Jimit Gandhi (Blood cancer): “It’s all for a while. You’re a strong boy.”

Blood Cancer Survivor

It all started in March 2011, a day before my SSC (Tenth) board exams, I was diagnosed with Ph+ve Pre B-Cell ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia). I was 15, and I didn’t even know what Cancer meant, except that it’s a deadly disease; a war from which not many have returned home.

I had lymph nodes up on my back and the neck region. But in the worst of our dreams, we ever thought that it would turn out so badly.

My platelet levels were (~7000), Haemoglobin was ( ~6) and also my WBC count was very high, so I was suggested to consult a hematologist/oncologist. On 3rd March 2011, I attempted my English paper and went for further checkup. Due to very low levels of platelets, I was urgently recommended transfusion. (The doctor at that time told us “If the lymph nodes surfaced, would have burst, it would have been very difficult to stop the blood flow. The lymph nodes were a sign of low platelet levels”).

The reports of Bone marrow and Biopsy arrived on 5th March, and then the diagnosis was confirmed (which we were skeptical about initially).

I cried a lot that day, not because I was diagnosed with Cancer, but I would not be able to attempt my board exams, for which I strives the entire year.

But then, seeing my parents and my closed ones crying, I took the first hardest decision of my life and told my parents

“I would have the treatment only on one condition. I would not want anyone crying from this day. It’s obvious that we’ll have to fight this monster, then why not fight it happily?”.

And then started the mission of “Overcoming Cancer“.

Similar to my board exam schedule (which lasted for 20 days), I was given a schedule of the entire chemotherapy process that I had to undertake.

1 year, consisting of 5 cycles of chemotherapy followed by 2 years of Maintenance follow-up therapy.

As and when the days passed, I got to know, what it is to have Cancer. Each and every day, I woke up with a different side effect.

Chemotherapy does as much harm as it does good. It is mentally as well as physically draining. It weakens the entire body, with hair loss being the most visible in its form. And this is when I stood in front of the mirror, I noticed what Cancer had done to my body. But I always had someone from my family or friends beside me, who kept saying,

“It’s all for a while. You’re a strong boy.”

And trust me, this is what you need, a few words of positivity and hope and it could do wonders.

Everything was going fine, my body was responding to the medications and everything was seeming to get back to normalcy. It seemed like it was Armageddon in my corner of the world, but it was not the case.

Sometimes, life is not as complicated as you think it to be. It’s even more. In 2013, we came to know that entire chemotherapy from 2011, hardly served any purpose.

“I was relapsed with this monster, and this time it felt that Cancer came back with even more force and power to entirely conquer me. It now started considering my body as a feast. And now I felt Cancer eating the marrow of my bones, leaving me like a building made of hollow logs.”

The doses were almost tripled, and again the disease starting killing and ripping off everything inside me. I was shifted from first line TKI to Second line TKI therapy (trying everything from Imatinib — Nilotinib — Dasatinib) By this time I was very well aware of the fact that Cancer is not suffered by an individual, it is suffered by each and every closed one associated. And things were getting even worse than the first time, I was diagnosed with. By this time, I somehow completed my HSC exams. I wanted to get into Medicine but I was strictly advised against it, considering my health. And so, I took the second hardest decision of my life, quit my childhood dream, and entered into Engineering.

During Engineering years too, it was not easy. Every year I had some major setback. Although the reports showed “No residual of disease”, but I felt that Cancer had left an impression in my body.

But, in the midst of all these bad events, I would not miss a chance to be thankful about certain good occurring :

  • I completed my Mechanical Engineering in 2018
  • The reports have been normal since 2014 showing “No residual of disease” and now, I would myself sometimes think whether I was living in a dream. Were all these sufferings real or was it just a pseudo notion that I had.

Today always bleeds into tomorrow. It’s sometimes good to stop compartmentalizing every event into good or bad. Rather than fighting fluidity in life, it’s important to remember that “This too shall pass”. Period.

The most important lesson that I’ve learned through this journey is to value life, believing and living in the moment.

And now I’ve emerged even stronger, knowing the importance of mind and body, both.

So how is it even possible for anyone to go through such a rigorous process?

  • 5 Biopsy tests
  • >30 Bone Marrow tests
  • >50 CT/MRI/Sonography/X-Ray
  • ~100 Methotrexate doses (Spinal Injections)
  • >5000 injections (Including blood test and miscellaneous injections)
  • Uncountable vomits (apart from nausea) and innumerable other side effects

Do painkillers work at such a high intensity? No

Then what does work?

In my case, my parents, a very supportive set of friends, some relatives, and professors, all of them made this possible.

Medicines only work when you get the power and positivity to fight this monster. And I had this power and positivity generators (close ones) around me, who were constantly with/around me and did whatever they could, to just bring a smile on my face.

The sole purpose of sharing this story is to create awareness and acceptance about certain aspects of life. You can’t run away, but you can defeat it by punching it hard, hard enough to make it cry.

Reading this, maybe someday sometime you could help/motivate someone to overcome any such stage in their life. And you know, this is how positive energy works in the universe. The more you spread, the more you get. So even if you need it again, it would come back to you!

Keep spreading and sharing love, let there be an epidemic of this “positivity-disorder”.

To all the warriors, let’s fight together!

It’s never about the end, it’s all about the means to reach the finish line.