It was the year 2014 during Diwali when we got to know that Dad has cancer. All of us were shocked to hear the news. I was located in Delhi and my sister in Bangalore and were not with our Dad.
The first symptom was when Dad started having pain in his thighs. There was a lump in his prostate, and we did not think much of it and for the initial six months, he ignored it as there was no pain. This generally is the case with people who have no idea about cancer. After the initial four-five months, Dad started having pain, and he decided to go to the doctor. My parents were staying in Ranchi at that time. So, they went to a local doctor who advised to get a biopsy done to be clear as to what the lump was.
My sister asked my parents to come over to Bengaluru for the check-up as the facilities are good there. So, our parents went there and Dad got his test and check up done at Manipal Hospital. That is when he was diagnosed with cancer. The first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word cancer is how much time, do you have.
Dad was a very healthy man. Having been from a sales background in the Pharma industry, we have seen Dad travel a lot and lead a very active life. We seldom saw him fall sick, and so it was a shock when he was diagnosed with cancer. As compared to Dad, our mother has been the one whom we have been more concerned about health-wise as she is diabetic and has had health issues off and on.
I was having my final exams and wanted to go to Bengaluru and be with them. But my father supported me and told me to focus on my studies and not miss my exams. All he told me was to give the exams properly and get my degree and travel down post the exams as the cancer was a situation that was not going to go away soon. We all decided to be practical and not handle the situation emotionally. Post my exams I travelled down to Bengaluru to be with him.
The treatment being given was for sarcoma, which is a soft tissue cancer. Dr. Zaveri, who is one of the best doctors in Manipal Hospital, carried out the surgery on his external where the cancer was found and this was followed by radiation. It all went well and Dad was relieved. Chemotherapy was also done but the dose was less than in this type of cancer it is not very effective. We all kept a very positive mind during this time as even the doctors were helping us by being optimistic and telling us not to worry.
During the surgery and radiation, there was a risk of paralysis to the leg as the infected tissue was very close to a nerve and the doctors had to carve out the tissue cautiously without touching the nerve. We all prayed for the surgery to go well. Post the surgery Dad could not feel any sensation under his feet when he walked, so we realized that this was a side effect of the surgery, and we were happy as it was relatively a minimal issue in comparison.
The doctor asked him to keep coming for check-ups as a chance of relapse is always there. These check-ups are scary for every family with a cancer patient. So, every three months it was like a dagger on the head as it would be uncertain of what will happen. By 2015 he had recovered well and was doing fine but then by the end of the year it relapsed. This time it happened in a part of the body where surgery was not possible.
We first went to Manipal and then to AIIMS, New Delhi. But between this, my sister shared a blog with me about Yeshi Dhinden, who is the private doctor of the Dalai Lama and lives in a Dharamshala in McLeod Ganj. He uses some Tibetan medicine to treat such diseases. So my sister wanted me to go and find out about this as she felt maybe Dad would get cured and would not have to go through so much pain again.
The medicines were available only based on booking done earlier. They did not have any online facility. On the date of the booking, one has to go with a sample. The office would open at 10 in the morning, but I was surprised to see that at 3 in the morning the place was crowded with people rushing to get the medicine. I was standing in the queue and talking around, Most of them were relatives of cancer patients. The crowd included people from all walks of life and I heard many stories about recoveries because of this medicine. I got optimistic about it and managed to get a booking for two weeks later.
Dad was not convinced about it as he was from a pharma background and had handled medicines. But he came with us for the appointment after we convinced him. The doctor, Yeshi Dhonden, examined him and communication was a difficulty as there was a language barrier, but we managed it somehow. He gave some pills like Hajmola candies which were distributed from a medicine counter. This doctor is very popular there, and I am not sure if he is still around there.
Even if he is, we would not be going there. The chamber was well organized and only forty patients were seen a day. They could courier the medicines to you after your first visit as going there every time was not possible. Dad started taking the medicines. Initially, he had a pain in his thighs, but then he got some relief after having the medicines. We parallelly continued with the other treatment too. We conducted an ultrasound which showed the growth reducing in size which we felt was a miracle. I again took a urine sample of Dad’s urine to the Dharamshala, and they did some tests and gave more medicines. Eventually, at AIIMS we got to know that the lumps were placed too internally and surgery was ruled out.
That left us shocked as that meant that Dad had to live with it. We met Dr., Rastogi, and he started giving Chemo and dad’s health started deteriorating. Dad stopped the Tibetan medicines too even though I went and got them. There was no difference in the size of the tumor. As a last resort, the doctor advised giving Spazopanic but dad’s age was a factor as this medicine is a targeted medicine which cures a particular part only. To help us be positive, the doctor showed us many positive cases where people survived with this medicine.
I then had a very difficult discussion with Dad after this where I told him that this is our final shot at curing your cancer but it could go either way. Dad just said that he had suffered enough and that he wanted to take this chance and that if anything happened then he was only responsible for it. I never discussed this conversation with my mother or anyone even after a year after Dad’s death. I was perplexed but Dad was suffering and no one likes to see their loved ones in pain.
Dad was taking Morphine which was not helping him much because he would remain awake for days in pain. I still requested Dad to think once more about the pros and cons as I did not want to lose him. Dad said that this was our only hope and even if it did not, he wanted us to know that what he was living was not good either. As he had an idea of medicines and how they work, he knew what he was saying. Dad dealt with the situation in the best way as he had seen many deaths in his life and was mentally strong.
I consulted the doctor again, and he said that this is the last chance as eventually, even this would go away. With this medicine, dad had a chance of getting a new lease at life and if it did not work also the kind of life Dad was having was not worth it because the quality of life also matters and Dad was suffering badly. I could not be selfish and make Dad live just for it. So, we decided to go for it and Dad remained positive and gave me courage whereas it was I who should have given it to him. But as fate would have it, the medicine did not help. He took it for a month and his health deteriorated further.
During the consumption of this medicine, one needs to keep an eye on the heart function. On the 23rd of September 2016 an emergency happened. On that morning my Dad was looking all swollen up and I took a picture of him and sent it to the doctor. The doctor told us to stop that medicine and take him immediately to the hospital to get tested.
While getting the test done the doctor was also present, and he said that only 22% of your Dad’s heart was working and asked to admit him immediately. Luckily, my friend was with me and I asked him to drive the car to the hospital. Dad understood what was happening and asked me to pick up mom. We called his doctor up, and he asked us to come soon as he would help to get him admitted immediately on reaching. We reached there and thanks to the people there, Dad got admitted. My sister also came down from Bengaluru.
A Cardio specialist came down and consulted dad’s oncologist and then said that seeing everything, there was nothing they could do except giving all the support that they could medically in the form of ventilators and other support to keep him alive, My sister did not want to believe it and was fighting and wanted to take him out of the hospital and shift him. I explained it to her and even the doctor asked us to understand the reality of the situation and told us that we could only take him out after signing a paper stating that we were doing so on our responsibility.
If anything happens to him then they would not be responsible. We discussed and decided to stay. I stayed with my dad all the time. On Saturday night I was with him, and dad had started talking gibberish and was living in the past. He would ask me if I had come back from school and would tell me not to lose my pens which I used to when I was young. On the morning of the 25th of September 2016 at around 10 a.m. he passed away after having a seizure. I was ready for it as I already had a discussion with the doctor and I knew what was going to happen.
I am still in touch with people having similar cases. This experience changed me completely as I used to take life very casually. But as Dad had wanted me to live more responsible, I learned to be so. What I learned from this was that no matter even if your loved ones are not around you physically, they are with you in your conversations, your surroundings and in everything you do. I was 25 years old when I lost him and I missed having him around as that was the age when my life was evolving. So, even now I keep him alive in me by thinking how Dad would handle any situation that I face and live like he wanted me to.
Dad would always say that in life there are two kinds of problems; one which you could brainstorm about, find a solution and solve and the other which cannot be solved. So, solve the problem that you can and forget the other. He maintained the same attitude towards his cancer too. He told me not to regret as we did the best we could and not live on contemplation.
It is important to do things and not think about what is right or wrong. He asked me to take care of mom as he would not be around, and I am proud of being able to live up to his words. I still go to support meetings and I try to help as much as possible with my busy professional schedule. Many people come from far-flung places and I speak with them too. I am delighted with the way Love Heals Cancer is working towards helping people suffering or associated with cancer and also spoke to Dimple and expressed my appreciation.