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Biren Vora (Caregiver of Breast Cancer Patient): My mother was a fighter

Background

My Journey is quite complicated. I was in the boarding school from the age of 9, though I never really liked being in a boarding school. When I was in my 7th standard, my mother got diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I had a brief about cancer because I had cancer history in my family, so I knew how dangerous this disease was.

Breast Cancer Detection/Diagnosis

It was in 1977 when my mother got diagnosed with breast cancer, at the age of 37. My sister and I were too young at that time, but due to the cancer history in our family, we both knew how dreadful it was.

Breast Cancer Treatment

My mother had told me that her Breast Cancer was fast-growing cancer. While she was taking her treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, my younger sister and I used to stay with our older maid at home. I was in boarding school, but during my 10th standard, I came home and continued to study in day scholars' school. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. The treatment was very aggressive, she became very frail, dark, thin, and bald, but she never gave up hope. It was only when her mother passed away, that her deterioration started since she was her anchor. When the autopsy of our grandmother was done, we found that she also had cancer. When I was in the 12th standard, doctors indicated that her cancer had spread everywhere, and there was no hope on how long she will live. My sister and I were not aware of this news then.

Roughly for the next six months, I moved to my father's friend's house, who agreed to take care of me, and my sister moved to her friend's house, and we virtually spent few months at their homes', and from there, we appeared for our board exams. I was in the 12th, and my sister was in the 10th. When our board exams were going on, our mother was living on the verge of death. Cancer was spreading very fast in her body; it had spread to the spinal cord, liver, and other parts too. On 29 March 1992, around 1 o'clock, I completed my board exams, and by 3 o'clock, my father's friend picked me up from my school, and another friend picked up my sister from her school. We boarded to Mumbai on the same day. The idea was to get a last glimpse of our mother. We went straight to Jaslock Hospital Mumbai, and till around ten at night, we were with her. The next day, we spend the whole day with her, and that was the first time when she had said that I am dying, and I heard that. I got frightened and panicked, I didn't know what to say, and whom to tell this because it was only my sister and me with her and there were no phone calls or mobile phones at that time. After that, we came back, and my father stayed with her that night, and the same night at one o'clock, she left for her heavenly abode. And then six days later, her father passed away, as it was too hard for him to take his daughter's death. That period was very traumatic, as we lost our mother and our two grandparents, in a short time period.

Trauma

I completed my education and worked for three decades. I had also developed a lot of somatic symptoms as a result of my childhood experience, which I did not realize myself. So I had to go and take treatment to de-stress myself. Doctors say that I have a very high level of Stress from childhood, which never got released. Now I am in my mid-50s, I have developed Insomnia and high level of Stress. About two years back, I was short of breath, but now gradually, everything is under control.

I have a habit of going for long walks. For the last 24 years, I have been doing that, along with some forms of meditation, listening to soothing music and being with nature. These are the things that have helped me quite a lot. Now the pandemic started, so I am at my home, and my health is relatively better now.

Parting Message

My mother was a strong person; she was a real fighter, but her Breast Cancer got detected very late. Even when her radiation and Chemotherapy went wrong, and she lost her hair, she always had a never die- come what may attitude. So I would say that be aware of your body; if you notice any changes, please go and get yourself checked because early detection is essential in Cancer Treatment.

Be regular in your treatment and do what your doctors advise. Be strong and don't give up.

Key points from Biren Vora's Healing Journey

  1. It was in 1977 when my mother got diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 37. My sister and I were too young at that time, but as we had cancer history in our family, so we knew how dreadful this disease was.
  2. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. The treatment was very aggressive, she became very frail, dark, thin, and bald, but she never gave up hope. It was only when her mother passed away; her deterioration started. Her cancer started spreading all over her body, including the spinal cord and liver, and just after our board exams, she left for her heavenly abode.
  3. I developed lots of somatic symptoms, Insomnia and severe Stress due to the trauma I underwent as a child. Now I do several things such as going for long walks, along with some forms of meditation, listening to soothing music and being with nature to relieve me of all the Stress and trauma.
  4. Be aware of your body; if you notice any changes, please go and get yourself checked because early detection is essential.
  5. Be regular in your treatment; do what your doctors advise. Be strong and don't give up.