It was the year 2011 and I had just completed my SSLC exams. During the summer holidays, I went for cricket coaching classes for three months. When the SSLC results were announced, I was so elated on being the School topper. My joy knew no bounds and I was relishing the moment.
But as they say, life has its twists and turns. In my case, the twists and turns happened too fast and too sharp. After nearly a fortnight of the results, I had irregular episodes of nausea and vomiting. Due to this, my travel to school was very hard and cumbersome. Despite being a bright student, I lost my interest in studies due to the health issue. I took a break from school and consulted the Railway hospital, Since my father was employed with the Indian Railways.
Though I did not exhibit any symptoms initially, there were regular bouts of diarrhea and fever. The blood tests conducted showed high infection, because of high WBC levels, which stood at 53,000. Further tests carried out could not diagnose anything. The Railway hospital suggested that I should go to Mumbai for further consultation. Without thinking further, my father and I went to Mumbai. At the Mumbai Railway Hospital, I went through another check-up and was shifted to the Tata Memorial Hospital.
After further tests at the hospital, I was seated outside in the waiting area. There I noticed a poster that displayed the symptoms of Cancer. While the symptoms stated on the poster matched mine, I was half-heartedly assuring myself that I did not have Cancer. The Doctors then put all my doubts to rest and told me that I had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, a type of Blood Cancer, which progresses quickly if not treated on time. They comforted me saying that it will be cured in 8 months. While many other forms of medication were suggested for me by our relatives, we are happy that we stuck to the Allopathic form of treatment (Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy).
Since we were new to Mumbai, it was very difficult initially. Also, the hospital had a policy, wherein they accept blood for transfusion from donors directly, rather than from the blood bank. However, we found blood donors who regularly donated blood for my transfusion. After 2-3 months of low blood count, things started to improve. The blood count became stable, in the aftermath of which Chemotherapy was carried out. It was a difficult phase in my life, wherein I lost nearly 30 kg of weight in a short period (87 kg to 57 kg). However, as I began to recover, the weight also increased.
In those days, mobile phones were not in much use and I had just a few friends. In the midst of this, I found the best friend of my life. – My Papa. He made innumerable sacrifices for me during those times. Due to fewer seats in the hospital, my father used to stand for 8 hours to attend to me. Even at home, he was always taking care of me. He prepared food for me and always attended to me. He was the only inspiration for me to recover me at that time. Also, seeing small kids fighting cancer pushed me mentally to hang on and stay put in the fight against Cancer. After 10 months stay in Mumbai, I resumed my life in my hometown. I got admission in 11th standard thereafter.
Though the amount of time in the hospital appears shorter compared to other cancer patients, it was a difficult period of my life. Mothers are the best emotional support in these situations. However, in my case, since my mother was undergoing severe depression at that time already, it was decided that the occurrence of cancer would be kept as a secret. Even after the passage of 1 year from recovering from cancer, we never told my mother. Since my siblings were small at that time, it was a testing time for all of us. When she was made aware of this after a year through a third person, she broke down but was happy that I had recovered from Cancer.
Before I came in touch with Love Heals Cancer, I was undergoing much stress. After connecting with Love Heals Cancer, I was in awe of the stories of Dimple didi especially. When I used to see the attendants of patients sleeping on pavements outside Tata Memorial Hospital, I used to think about doing something for them. Dimple didi’s charitable activities have strengthened my resolve in this regard. Through Love Heals Cancer, I have connected with Jimit Gandhi and Divya Sharma, with whom I can relate to, Since we are survivors of Cancer.
During my journey, I have had the fortune of meeting and being cared about by people whom I never expected to. The School Principal who refunded my school fees during my treatment and motivated me through phone calls. The classmates, who sent me “Get Well Soon” cards. The teachers who kept checking my health progress through regular phone calls.
The Railways Hospital authorities in Mumbai who supported us in all possible ways. Special mention should be made of the Doctors of the Tata Memorial Hospital, who were very composed and understanding. They bore with me during my bouts of anxiety and emotional outbursts. Dr. Reema Nair, a senior Doctor at Tata Memorial Hospital, was always a supportive person and provided special attention to me during my treatment.
Though there are no specific reasons to be pinpointed as to why Cancer occurs, I went deeper into my lifestyle and discovered that my unhygienic habits may have been a cause for this. I have reviewed my lifestyle and changed it for the better. The discipline I have inculcated due to this has made me more organised in life. Though I am still on a controlled diet, I have no regrets about it. Sometimes though I have an occasional down moment when I rue the 1 year gap in studies due to the treatment.
I believe that whatever will happen, there is always some good in it. This is what I want to convey to all the Cancer patients. Cancer is not a killer disease and it has an 80% survival rate. It can be detected, diagnosed, and cured. Contrary to popular perception, it is on par with other normal illnesses that can be cured. Keep positivity around you. During my time of treatment and recovery, we did not have the luxury of resources of the Internet at our disposal. Use the testing times to read inspiring podcasts and videos. Along and above the Cancer patients, the Caregivers are the silent warriors, who face more pressure and give a lot of emotional and moral support.
8 years have gone by and thankfully I am feeling better. It’s like a second life that I have been gifted. I have learned that second chances are hard to come by. I have been provided with one and I have resolved to make it count.