Hodgkin's Lymphoma Diagnosis
It was in December 2013 when I felt some continuous itching in my legs. I consulted a doctor who prescribed me some medicines, but that didn't work for me. So I was then given steroids to take in the morning and evening, but due to its overdose, I would feel a burning sensation in my legs. All my blood parameters got disturbed due to this. After two months, I found two enlarged lymph nodes near my neck. I consulted the doctor, who doubted it was something critical and thus advised to get the CT scan done immediately. I got my CT scan, and some other tests, but to no avail. The doctors couldn't find anything definitive in the results, even though they doubted Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Thus, I got operated, and the lymph nodes were taken out and sent for Biopsy. But in the Biopsy too, it was not confirmed whether it was cancer or not. Later, the doctors suggested the IHC test, and when reports came, it was positive, and I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It came as a shock for me as I never had any bad habits. I had a seven months old baby, and I was diagnosed with cancer. I cried for 10 minutes questioning why it had happened to me, but then I set my mind that if God has given me this disease, then there might be some reason behind it, and I will be capable to fight against it and come out of it alive.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment
That's when my actual journey against Hodgkin's Lymphoma started. After my first chemotherapy, I realised that it is very aggressive, and thus began searching for alternate options to reduce its side effects. Due to the chemotherapy, I used to have constipation, used to feel too hot, could not bear any voice around me and would get irritated very easily. All my blood parameters also came down.
But I prepared myself for the next Chemotherapy and took the help of ayurvedic treatment. I started taking giloy, wheatgrass, and papaya leaves. If I had Chemotherapy on Monday, I used to stop taking solid food on Sunday. I would only take liquids, and that too, I avoided milk and preferred taking juices. These measures helped me take the Chemotherapy very easily. I would go alone for my Chemotherapy sessions, and if the doctor or nurses asked where my family or caregiver was, I used to say that they were in the parking. I used to go for work the next day of my chemotherapy, and no one would be able to distinguish that this man had got his Chemotherapy the day before. I was as normal as everyone else on the outside.
I was relatively happy at the fact that there were only 12 cycles so that it will be over in 6 months, as my body was reacting to the treatment. But after the 12th session, when I had the PET scan, there was another shock waiting for me in my report. While the nodes near my neck were clear, there were new problems at the right side of my lungs, and it had crossed stage 3 of cancer.
I decided to take a second opinion on my Hodgkin's Lymphoma treatment, as I was not satisfied with the doctor I was seeing. So I went to another specialist in Gandhinagar. He started my chemotherapy, and initially, we decided to take three Chemotherapy sessions, but after the 2nd chemotherapy, when I took the PET scan, we found that most of the cancer cells were destroyed. But the doctor said that we should do a Stem- cell transplant. So after the two Chemotherapy sessions, I got admitted again for my autologous transplant and developed my own stem cells. These stem cells were collected for two days and were followed by five cycles of Chemotherapy again before the transplant. I was keeping an ice cube in my mouth during the Chemotherapy sessions to make sure that I do not develop any further issues in my mouth due to the high dose of Chemotherapy.
Later, I had my stem cell transplant, which was done rather easily, but then my cells were not developing. On the day of my stem cell transplant, my WBC count was 12, Platelets were 10000, but then the counts were not increasing, and it went like this for 5-6 days. I was working at that time, but the doctor advised to take rest because even if I had a small cut, the blood flow would not stop since the Platelet counts were so low. But I made up my mind to get out of this positively.
Even my family (my parents and relatives) was not aware of my treatment; I told them everything only after one- and- a- half years. When I had the Biopsy for my lungs, I was told very clearly that there was a 99% chance of MH in the lungs, so we have to do open Surgery. I agreed for the surgery, but even that time, I told at home that I am going for a 21 days training (doctors had told me that it would take seven days for all the procedures). My wife and in-laws knew about it, so I dropped my wife and child at my in-laws' and got admitted at the hospital.
The damaged part of my lung was taken out during the Surgery. I had 26 stitches on my back. I was in the hospital for 21 days, and out of them, I spent three days in ICU. Later, when I came back home, I told my family everything. I told them that this is the problem, and I have been fighting it for more than a year, but I need your support now, so don't get all emotional on me, because I am ready to fight, so you also get prepared from your side and support me.
My Motivation in the battle against Hodgkin's Lymphoma
I always had one sentence in my mind, I am just one person for the world, but for my family, I am their whole world. It used to give me renewed energy to fight, thinking about what will happen to my daughter and wife if I am not with them. For the world, I was just another human, like any other human. The world will not get affected if it loses me, but for my family, I am their whole world; I had to keep fighting for them. I kept this thing in my mind that I have to fight with this, come out of this and help everyone come out from this. Secondly, I try to think that if God has selected me for this, then I might be capable of fighting it, and that's the reason he gave me this cancer; as a test so that I can pass it successfully.
I used to take kadha, and it helped me a lot. Now, every morning, I play the flute for 10 minutes, and it helps me in the breathing process. I take Ginger daily. I am always energetic and go for regular checkups.
Life has changed after cancer. When you come out of this, you have a fear of relapse, but that's normal. When you see other survivors, it gives you confidence and motivation at the fact that there are people, leading a healthy life even after 22 years of having cancer, so we can too.
Parting Message to fellow Cancer Warriors
I have counselled many people, and I've found that people get scared of cancer by merely hearing the C-word. What they don't realise is that there are advanced treatments for it now, and therefore there is nothing much to be worried about. We should spread maximum awareness about cancer, and should not make much havoc of it. We should treat it as a common disease, but on the other side, we should be aware of our health too.
Don't take any decision hastily, analyse everything, and then start your treatment with the doctor in whom you completely trust. Have your data with you; it will help your doctors and yourselves too. In cancer, teamwork, data analysis, and your overall confidence matters the most.
It would be best if you have a positive mindset, and try to keep off the negative thoughts. I started the counselling to make sure that others don't repeat the mistakes that I did. I did many things on a trial and error basis, so I wanted to make sure that the same mistakes were not repeated by anyone else. I educate them about the small precautions that we need to take on this journey.
Key Points from Umesh Patel's Healing Journey
- I found two lymph nodes near my neck. I consulted the doctor who advised for Surgery. I was operated, and the lymph nodes were taken out and sent for Biopsy. The Biopsy results couldn't confirm, but ICH test confirmed that I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
- I underwent surgery, 12 Chemotherapy sessions, and a stem cell transplant. During my treatment, I used to take a lot of liquid, giloy, and some kadha to boost my immunity and to reduce the side effects of Chemotherapy.
- Don't take any decision hastily, analyse everything, and then start your treatment with the doctor in whom you completely trust. In cancer, teamwork, data analysis, and your overall confidence matters the most.
- I have counselled many people, and I've found that people get scared of cancer by merely hearing the C-word. What they don't realise is that there are advanced treatments for it now, and therefore there is nothing much to be worried about. We should treat it as a common disease, but at the same time, we should be aware of our health too.