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Neera Singh (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Caregiver): Adversity makes us brave.

During that time, cancer was practically a death sentence in our society. Even in films, it was shown that being diagnosed with cancer meant that the person would die within a few days. Therefore, my husband's Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma diagnosis came as a huge shock to us.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Diagnosis

My husband was in the Army, and while he was posted in Delhi around 15 years back, he had a routine health check-up. He opened up to the doctor that there was a small lump that he could feel behind his neck when he used to shave or take a bath and asked the doctor to take a closer look at it. The doctor asked for a couple of tests and asked him to wait for the reports. After the reports came, the doctor told him that there were some problems with the results, and therefore he needed to see an Oncologist. That was the first time that we were hearing the word Oncology or Oncologist. The doctor took him to the Oncology department, and he met the Head of the Department, Dr Dhar, who is now a retired Brigadier, and was a Colonel then. Dr Dhar studied the reports and told him that it was a cancer called Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Dr Dhar also explained to him the treatment procedures of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and gave him confidence that it was treatable.

He came back home lost in his thoughts, had his lunch and hardly talked to me. Later, I asked him how was his reports. He told me that he had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of cancer. When he told me about his cancer, I was emotionless and totally numb. I didn't know what to say or how to react, which can be the same for most of us because none of us are brave; the situations make us brave. He told me that the doctors told him not to worry and that he will be alright, which gave me the hope to fight this disease.

During that time, cancer was practically a death sentence in our society. Even in films, it was shown that being diagnosed with cancer meant that the person would die within a few days. Therefore, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma diagnosis came as a shock to us, but we had faith in the doctors, God, and not even for a single second did I feel that he will not be with us. We decided to pass this test with flying colors. We took it as a challenge and decided that we will see whatever that comes on our way.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment

We were together most of the time. He never got admitted; he used to take Chemotherapy sessions in daycare. We made sure that everything was taken care of. We kept on doing what the doctors told us. The most important things that helped us a lot are music and positivity. My children were young, my son was doing engineering, and my daughter was in class 9th. Though they were young, they behaved very maturely. We all were living our lives as normal as we could.

He was okay after six cycles of chemotherapy, but after two years, he got a relapse and the low-grade Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma was turned into high-grade cancer, which became the toughest part of our journey. He was advised to go for a bone marrow transplant. We were confined in one room for his BMT, and my children were outside. My daughter had board exams at that time. He was dangerously ill, and they both might have had a lot of pressure on their mental health for those 30 days. All of us had a lot of patience and perseverance.

It was tough for him. He was very weak and developed an infection, but he fought with everything very bravely. God was with us, smiling at us, and he had different intentions for us.

Things went well, and he was okay. The doctors were always with us, and they supported him immensely. All the nurses and hospital staff became like a family. We celebrated Christmas, New Year, our anniversary, and his birthday with them. We had the best team of doctors with us.

We always had family support, and everyone was with us throughout the journey. We kept ourselves away from the negative things.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: The Third Relapse

After his bone marrow transplantation, he was in remission for five years, and we were so happy that it had been five years, and he was cancer-free. The doctors had advised him to undergo a PET scan every six months, which he was regularly doing.

During one such PET scan, the doctors found that the Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma had relapsed again. There were a lot of discussions on what treatment to give him. The doctors avoided Chemotherapy for six months because they felt it would deteriorate his health further, but after that, Chemotherapy was the only option left.

He was supposed to undergo Chemotherapy when our daughter was getting married, so he said that we would go for Chemotherapy later and let's first focus on our daughter's marriage. Our daughter postponed her marriage after discussing it with her fiance and in-laws so that he could take proper treatment. Later, he took six cycles of Chemotherapy and took one month to recover. After his recovery, we got our daughter married.

We always had a positive mindset, and we never let cancer harm our mental state.

Our Learnings

Caregivers should take care of themselves, especially when they need to deal with a cancer patient. We all were eating what my husband was eating. We learned a lot of things. That was the time when we really started appreciating other people's work because otherwise, you are so busy in your lives that you don't notice everything so deeply.

We started enjoying the little things in life. What we have today is the best, so just enjoy today and leave the rest to destiny. Our faith and positivity helped us to sail through all those things. God was always with us, and there was a lot of positivity with which we always moved forward.

After our cancer journey, I did an MSc in Nutrition, and now I am a nutritionist. I am fond of listening to music and used to listen to music whenever I felt low throughout my caregiving journey.

I never liked getting sympathy from others. I didn't share the cancer news with many people because people tend to sympathize with us rather than treat us as normal as before. I cut off negative people from my life because my family's mental peace was more important.

No one is ready for bad times; you become brave when bad times come in your life. Adversity makes us brave.

Parting Message

When God gives us many good days, we don't ask him why he is giving us so much happiness. Then why should we ask 'why me' when he gives us little problems? We should take whatever that comes our way. Take everything as a blessing, and you would be able to deal with everything. Be positive and happy. Be busy and keep doing exercises as they are good for your mental and physical health. Smile as often as you can.