Arick Khara (Breast Cancer) : “Always be with them.”

Caregiver of Breast Cancer Patient - Arick: "Always be with them.”

Story of Breast Cancer Patient – Detection / Diagnosis

 

This story of breast cancer patient is about my wife. Let us begin.

 

In April 2015, she was normal. She just informed me about a lump swelling that she felt on her right breast. She was very casual about it, and did not want to go for any test.

 

In fact, I forced her to go for a test. We went to a diagnostic center nearby. After seeing the reports, the doctor asked us to go for a biopsy immediately.

 

We flew to Mumbai at once, and the biopsy was done there. The reports came out – it was stage 3 breast cancer. The doctor suggested us to consult a medical oncologist.

 

 

Story of Breast Cancer Treatment in Mumbai 

 

My role as caregiver of breast cancer patient taught me a lot about how to deal with challenging life situations. We started my wife’s breast cancer treatment in Mumbai. She took three cycles of chemo. After the third cycle, she underwent surgery. Even after the surgery, she received five cycles of chemo.

 

During this period, my loving wife underwent an emotional roller-coaster. She had her ups and downs because chemotherapy is very stressful, both mentally and physically.

 

Initially, my children were in a state of shock. My daughter was 15 years old, and my son was seven years old at that time. They were young; the entire situation came as a big shock to them.

 

My wife used to be with her mom in Pune; I stayed with my children in Calcutta, as their schools were ongoing. I used to manage all the household work myself. My mother was around 74 years old, so I had to look after her as well.

 

As a caregiver of breast cancer patient, I used to travel to and fro Calcutta-Pune, Calcutta-Mumbai, and sometimes Mumbai-Pune. It was up and down for me on regular basis. During their vacation, our children went to Pune to spend time with their mom. This continued for 7-8 months.

 

After completing eight cycles of chemo, the breast cancer evaluation was done. We were advised radio therapy.

 

We planned for radiation in Calcutta. We did consult a doctor in Mumbai, who also advised us to take radiation in Calcutta. The plus point would be that she would be able to stay here with her children. So, she moved to Calcutta in December, after spending eight months in Pune due to her breast cancer treatment in Mumbai.

 

In Calcutta also, she was doing fine with her treatment. She underwent 25 schedules of radiation. After radiation, scan, and every other test, and she was doing good. My wife was in remission, and life turned to be okay.

 

 

“Life got fair”

 

I am glad to tell you that our lives got back in track gradually. The first and foremost thing that doctors cautioned us was that despite any breast cancer treatment my wife took, she ought to be positive.

 

If she is positive, then only she would respond to breast cancer treatment. Otherwise, recovery would be challenging. It is difficult for any person to undertake chemo and radio therapy. I would say that yes, my wife got her family’s support, but it was her determination and will power that caused her to overcome her problem.

 

Her breast cancer treatment completed in January 2016. In October 2016, we planned a family trip to Dubai; we enjoyed it a lot and had great time there.

 

Two and half years passed well. We took a foreign trip, and a trip with friends too. My wife was doing pretty well as a breast cancer survivor. She used to attend Navratri functions as well.

 

But still, I kept constantly reminding her to avoid too much public places. That’s because of my uncle, who is based in USA. He is a doctor, and he suggested me to keep a breast cancer survivor away from any infection. So, as her caregiver, I tried my best to ensure that.

 

Stage 3 Breast Cancer – The Sudden Relapse 

 

Everything was going very well with my wife being a stage 3 breast cancer survivor. Suddenly, she developed a cough in June 2018. She was coughing a lot, and her hands started to swell. She did exercises for her hands, but her cough grew chronic. We consulted a doctor; He said that nothing wrong with her. All was okay; it was just due to weather change.

 

We usually get her mammography, blood tests, abdomen scan, and everything else, done every 6-7 months. So after January, again, in August, we did all the tests. Though her mammography was normal, we found something related to liver. This was a sudden setback in our story.

 

The very next day was Rakshabandhan. My wife was supposed to go to Pune, so I called my brother-in-law to tell him to get her scanned there immediately. It was the doctor’s advice to. My wife reached Pune the next day and got her scans done.

 

The reports showed cancer metastasis in her lungs, liver and bones. Her breast cancer had metastasized to vital parts of her body, like lungs, liver and bones.

 

When I shared this news with the doctor in Calcutta, he simply gave up. He said that there was nothing to do now; it was just a matter of time, maybe two months. I was asked to leave the matter to our destiny, and closed the file.

 

Needless to mention, this response shook the world around us. It was really beyond comprehension. My wife was doing fine; she had just got a cough, right? We even used to get her checked regularly, and nothing was wrong.

 

So, after receiving this news, I flew her to Mumbai immediately and consulted the doctors there. Even there the doctor there were not optimistic about the entire situation. Even they informed that it was time factor. He said that we could go for the metastasis treatment, but according to him, it would not brighten the scene much.

 

We consulted another doctor, who said that things looked bad, but it was not the end of the world. He assured us that he would try to extend her life as much as possible. This gave us hope; thanks to advancements in medical science.

 

For us, things came, but we both fought it head on. Both of us, as breast cancer patient and caregiver, never believed in giving up on anything. We always believed in the Almighty. We knew people live for a long time in breast cancer, so we were hoping for the same miracles in our lives.

 

We were always very warm, kind and cordial to people around us. So, it was our belief that nothing was going to happen to us. We started the new breast cancer treatment in Pune for the metastasis.

 

Six weekly cycles of chemotherapy and PET scans were done. My wife started losing her hair again, but she was prepared for it. Here, a caregiver’s support meant a lot. I stood with her, and she felt secure.

 

I shifted my children to Pune, as we did not want to leave the patient alone at this crucial time. We had critical roles to play as caregiver of breast cancer patient. Things were very serious. I stayed for two and a half months in Pune, and would visit Calcutta for 10-15 days.

 

Initially, there was improvement, albeit very mild. So, the doctors suggested to change the medication. My wife moved to oral administration, and took oral chemotherapy for two months. However, that deteriorated her health again.

 

New reports showed that her cancer metastasis had progressed. We were back to square one! The concern returned to us all over again, but in the meantime, we started naturopathy treatment.

 

Every doctor said that it was a matter of time, because the cancer had spread to his lungs, liver and bones. All of them shared the same opinion. However, we, as cancer patient and survivor, never believed in such negativity because we had to fight our own battle. We thought that we would succeed in winning it.

 

After fighting her breast cancer battle for a year and a half, and spending two and a half good years, my wife was very hopeful of a good life. However, the health problems returned. It shattered her, but she would tell me that I was there, and we will definitely come out of it together.

 

As caregiver of breast cancer patient, I had assured her that I would do anything to enable her to come out of it. She relied on my intuition and support. She had it in her mind that no matter what happened, I would pull her out.

 

After 3-4 monthly cycles, in May, her reports were good and showed that the cancer metastasis had reduced. The tumor sizes had decreased a lot. We were happy about the whole thing, and even the doctor said that he was happy that the tumor size had regressed. Regression was seen everywhere.

 

The only small setback at that time was mild Pleural effusion in the lungs, which was earlier not there. The doctor said that it was not a good sign. However, as it was mild, we would be able to manage it. My wife was responding to the treatment, so we were confident.

 

Later because of some unwanted circumstances, we shifted to Calcutta, and began treatment there. It was the same medication and chemo that had improved her condition. She took four cycles in Calcutta, and then in September, we took her to Mumbai for a PET scan.

 

This PET scan showed cancer progression again, and that was very shocking. It was a huge let-down because the chemo was showing a good report earlier; the treatment was working well. Now on the contrary, reports showed reverse signs; the cancer had progressed a lot. Even the doctors were very shocked about it.

 

By this time, my wife was not able to take heavy chemo because her counts were dropping. Her health was deteriorating. We could not risk heavy chemo, so she was taking very light chemotherapy at this time.

 

As her caregiver, I took her to Dharamshala because they have good therapeutic solutions. Some of my relatives had recommended. However, the cancer had progressed beyond repair. In every 15-20 days, the water from her lungs had to be taken out.

 

The story of breast cancer patient that had started with stage 3 breast cancer, ended up with metastasis. My wife used to take the painful process with a smile. I have never seen a fighter like her in my entire life.

 

 

As a caregiver of a breast cancer patient, I was always with her.

 

I was a caregiver of my wife, so my motto was never to leave her side, no matter what. Due to all these breast cancer treatment and metastasis, my business was completely disrupted. I began having financial issues, but managed all that was possible.

 

Every morning my wife used to wake up and look into my eyes to gauge my mood. I had to be in a smiling mode always, whatever the condition was financially or health-wise. She was deteriorating day by day, but I had to smile in front of her because I did not want to make her realize that things are getting worse.

 

As a caregiver, I just wanted to see her attitude to be hopeful. My wife always used to hold my hand and tell me to be by her side, whatever the situation may be.

 

My mother in Calcutta was also not well; she got severe infection. So, I had to call my sister from Mumbai to take care of my mother and children. There were so many things that I had to undergo as a caregiver of breast cancer patient. But no matter what, I had to be by her side. I could never leave her at any cost; she was very confident whenever she held my hand and felt me by her side.

 

Slowly, in November, I read somewhere about Pleurodesis. So I asked my doctor, and we started this treatment for her. Earlier she was not able to sleep and cough all night. Now, this pleurodesis treatment worked for her, and she stopped coughing. She was relieved, so it was very hopeful for us.

 

 

Stage 3 Breast Cancer and Metastasis: Wished the “Next Day” never came

 

There was a homeopathy doctor in Delhi. I had spoken to him over the phone and he told me to send her reports to him. He said that he cannot completely cure the disease, but would do whatever he could, to extend her life.

 

When the end comes near, the person has intuitions, and they give up on all the likings they have towards somebody. In her last 4-5 days, my wife completely gave up on us. She was just into herself and hardly used to talk. We had thought it to be a behavioral change due to the treatment.

 

Due to her breast cancer and metastasis, she was feeling weak, but we did not think that things would end so suddenly. We never expected it, and even her health did not show any indication that it would be the next day itself.

 

One night, she called all of us, kissed us on the cheeks, bid goodnight, and went off to sleep. The next morning, suddenly, my daughter came and said, “Papa, mom is not waking up.” Just as we approached her, I could sense that something was terrible. I poured a lot of water on her face, but she did not respond at all.

 

Her condition was bad, but we never agreed to take her to the hospital because the hospital could have literally tortured her a lot. She was completely against going to the hospital for any further treatment. She was on oxygen at that time, and we had an oxygen machine at home.

 

She was breathing, but her eyes were closed. We had called the doctor, and said that it was because of external oxygen that she was able to breathe. Once we turned off the oxygen supply, it would be done. However, we had not agreed with the doctor.

 

I got the bio oxygen mask, and just as I tried to take out an oxygen mask to put the bio mask, she had stopped breathing. She was just breathing because of this oxygen mask. Doctors were there, and we tried to pump her, revive her, but nothing happened. That’s how she ended her life, and moved to heaven.

 

But this is not the end of our story. I want her to be known as an inspiration for all the cancer winners, warriors and caregivers.

 

My Wife – A Stage 3 Breast Cancer Winner & Warrior

 

She was indeed a stage 3 breast cancer winner. The metastasis was unforeseen. Now when I look back to just one week before the end of the story of our story, I realize that she had given up on us. She could realize that things are not going well, and she could sense that her end was near. But my wife was too determined and courageous.

 

The enthusiasm she had displayed; I have hardly seen a woman like her. She took everything to her side very happily and she gave an extraordinary fight to cancer. She was a fighter.

 

Parting Message by Caregiver of Breast Cancer Patient 

 

My primary message to all caregiver of breast cancer patient:

 

“If any family member is undergoing breast cancer treatment, please never desert them in any condition.”

 

Give them the maximum time of happiness and always be by their side because patients want their loves ones to be with them.

 

Be free of tension and have a smiling face, because the person who is suffering can gauge your mood by your face. So, do not let them let down by your internal worries and tensions.

Keep them in fighting mode till the very last breath; they should believe you that the person fighting will save them. The hope of survival should be there with them till the last breath.

 

I request all breast cancer patients to not be careless about lifestyle. Even after remission, never give up on a healthy lifestyle.

Caregiver of Breast Cancer Patient - Arick: "Always be with them.”