Bhavya Patel (Liver Cancer): We have to create a mirage

Dr Harish kumar Patel Liver cancer

People often applaud doctors for spending innumerable hours to treat their patients and bring them back to good health. However, people often don’t realize that doctors expose themselves to infections when they treat patients. Some doctors even neglect their own health, and continue to treat patients until the patient gets fine. My father was one such warrior.

My father died this year on 11 Feb 2020. He was an orthopaedic surgeon who got himself infected from Hepatitis C while treating a patient, which later developed into liver cancer. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in July 2019, but then it was already in an advanced stage and had spread significantly. We knew that complete cure would be difficult, and hence we did everything that we could to increase his life expectancy. Being a medical student, I know that one can lose hope easily when battling death. But my father never showed this attitude. He always kept his spirits high, and was willing to live further. He never lost hope, and was ready to give it all. But cancer was stubborn too, and had a different plan.

My father and I used to meet various doctors, while insulating my mother from these visits. My father knew that he had 6 months to a year to live. In spite of knowing this, he was worried about my mother and family. He used to ask us to buckle up. I was not ready for this, and wanted him to survive liver cancer. If I had been at his place, I would have been frightened and shattered. But he was as strong as a rock. I think this is because he accepted the circumstances and was willing to fight. This acceptance really comes very hard. But I think this is very important for cancer patients.

Because of the nature of his liver cancer, we had very limited options for treatment. Chemotherapy was not very effective so we have to go for a newer technology i.e. SBRT. He went through various tiers of treatment. In January 2020, he went for a checkup. This time the doctor recommended a new type of chemotherapy which is more reliable and effective. But his condition started deteriorating within 10 days. We don’t know whether that was a side–effect of chemotherapy or something else. He was admitted to ICU for 20 days. And after that, he left us.