In 2012, after I graduated, I went on a much awaited trip. When I came back home,I started having back pain. As I have always been a lean kind of person, I thought maybe my back is not much strong and that's the reason for having back pain. At that time, there were a lot of malaria cases around, so we thought it might be malaria as I started getting a high fever. Soon I got tested for malaria, dengue, and many other things, but all tests were negative.
It wasn't long when the back pain had started becoming worse. One day I could not lay down on my back, so we ended up calling a doctor who gave me a lot of injections. But even after that, I could not lie down. I would sleep while sitting but as soon as I tried to lie down, the pain would shoot up.
So the doctor immediately suggested getting me admitted, to figure out what is it all about. He was not sure, and he thought it was TB. As soon as I got admitted they started giving me antibiotics, and the pain reduced. They did a lot of tests which came out to be negative. Even another doctor thought it might be TB, so they asked me to get the biopsy done to be sure. We got my biopsy and other tests done, and reports were to come after ten days.
I had no clue about what was going on. I thought it might be TB, but I never used to cough and I always had the notion that TB is always when you are coughing. But the doctor said coughing is not the only symptom.
It was during Halloween when my biopsy results were to come. My parents asked me to visit the hospital and later they would drop you to the Halloween party on time. So I went with them and met my doctor for the first time. She was just of my grandma's age but was very stern. She was quite straight forward and without wasting time she told me, It's Hodgkin's Lymphoma. You have to deal with it, so better get yourself ready.
My first and only question was, am I going to live? Because I didn't know anything about the disease. Until then I was just a normal person living a normal life. I still remember her words, Don't worry, you'll be proud of yourself one day. I trusted her that she would get me out of it anyhow.
After I left, I ended up going to that party and enjoying it to the fullest. I thought it's just a dream, I'll wake up one day and it will be gone.
A week later, my cancer treatment started. till then whatever information I could collect from Google, I did.
The doctors were not sure about which stage it was, so they advised me to get started and they would let me know the stage later. They asked me to have a port inserted because my nerves are fragile, and the chemo might leave marks or my nerves could also burst because of those injections. So it was better to get a port done. I had minor surgery where they just inserted the port in my main vein and every time I took chemo, they would give me through the port.
I started my chemo cycles, and initially, the first month was insane, I didn't know what was going to happen. As it was year end of the year it was cold outside, but still, I used to sweat a lot, puke and sleep . I just remember coming home, vomiting a lot, eating a little whatever I can and going to bed. I used to get up at midnight and would feel very hot. But after a few cycles, I was adapted.
Doctors were supposed to give me 12 Chemo sessions (6*2), and it went on for quite a long time with a very strict diet. Being bought up in a gujju family I always loved having good food, so my parents would cook anything that I wanted said whatever because I was strictly not allowed to eat outside food, or any kind of raw food. Even if I want to have a fruit, I had to take out the pulp and boil it before eating it. Trust me it's not that good to taste.
During my 6th Chemo cycle, the doctor told me that we finally could detect it and it was 4th stage cancer, and for the safer side, they would give me one extra cycle.
My doctor used to tell me that she can only tell about the technical terms, but whatever it is, I had to face it. However strong you are, the moment you start crying and feeling helpless, it's not going to help. Her straightforward and blunt behavior helped me a lot. I was literally scared of her. If I asked her silly questions, she used to scold me. It might not work for someone else but for me, it did. I did not cry much, apart from the food cravings.
The nurses and the staff were also very kind. There was a group of nurses treating me, and I became friends with one of those nurses, who used to be very kind and loving towards me.
The Counselor's Support
Doctors had also provided me with a counselor. I could just go and talk to her anytime I wanted. One day she randomly called me and said I have a very great wig with me and if you want to try.
I went to her during my next chemo and she came up with a very fancy kind of wig, which was amazing. I think it was comforting because I could go out. I enjoyed wearing it. It gave me a lot of confidence. I also flaunted it a lot.
But then I came to this realization one day that okay I don't have hair, but it's not like everything in the world. It will eventually grow back, and if it does not, I can go completely bald and still rock it. You just have to have those guts to go out being bald. Only thing that matters is who you are as a person and how do you carry yourself. So I returned the wig told her to give it to someone else who might need it because I didn't.
Inspiration during my Cancer Treatment
During my cancer treatment, I met a 4-year-old child who was too bubbly and happy. He had come for blood cancer treatment. And while his chemo, if you give him something to play with, he would sit for 2 hours without cribbing even for a needle prick, and that was very inspiring for me. Whenever I used to see him, I would feel like he is four years old and going through this regressive cancer treatment with a smile. Every Time i saw him I used to say to myself, This child has every right to complain, but he is still smiling and being very brave. I cannot complain about how unfair life is. His smile used to give me hope that you can face everything wearing a smile, crying or complaining is never the solution.
I also met an uncle who was 60 years old, and he used to come all the way from the south to get his cancer treatment done. Some people right after their chemo went to work. I used to feel how lucky I am to get to rest and recover, and there are people who are struggling a lot of other things as well.
Mental strength is what we need. If you believe you can beat it, you will anyhow and if not at least you will live a life you'll always be proud of.
While getting inspired and discovering my inner strength,my cancer treatment ended. After that I was given five years period in which there are chances of relapse, so you get tested every year.
My Father's Support
I have a cancer history in my family. When my father was nine years old, he lost his father to pancreatic cancer. So more than me, it was difficult for my father to go through it all again. But he used to be very strong and very supportive. He never cried in front of me because he knew if he cries, I'll lose all my strength. My parents and grandma always kept me entertained.
My friends used to come home to meet me daily. My place was their new adda as they didn't want me to miss on anything.
During my cancer treatment, I searched a lot and came across a girl who went through the same journey. Luckily she stayed nearby. We got into contact and started talking a lot. Whenever I used to feel very upset or had weird questions, I would call her and she would answer everything. She would suggest things she did, most would work for me too.
There were times when I wanted to say something, but another person would not understand that and would show pity on me. But with her it was easy to communicate.
One thing that she taught me which I can never forget is no one else but you yourself can help you, and the time you realize that you are your superhero.
Initially, I was not very open about cancer, but now I think it's very important to open up and tell people about it because there might be people going through the same journey, and it might give them hope that they too can conquer it.
It's been a life-changing journey:
Being a big Bollywood fan, I used to see a lot of movies. One thing I have learned there is Life is uncertain so live to the fullest because there might not be a tomorrow.
It's been a life-changing journey for me. From me being very introvert to bold and straightforward. I would instead do things which I like rather than doing what other people expect. It turned me in a way that I'll always be proud of.
I won't say people need to go through such experience to learn something, but we be bold to accept the situation and overcome it.
If you are going through anything in your life, I know it's difficult to come out and speak up because there are chances that people wouldn't understand.
Don't do it for people do it for yourself, it's important to talk about our feelings.
During this journey we go through a lot of unwanted stuff and it's not easy. Speak up, maybe just to a random person you meet, speak your heart out and you will feel good.
Live life without regrets.
Make the person you see in the mirror smile everyday, because YOLO.