Cancer is a dangerous disease that causes excruciating pain. It arrives unannounced, it will shock you, torment you, and later transforms into a massive adversary.
The long and torturous journey of battling with cancer reoccured for my mom, Santosh Kapoor, who was 84 years old, with a pain on the right cheek.
She initially overlooked it since she had injured herself just a week prior, and she thought that the injury was the reason for the agony. The torment continued for a month, and I decided to take her to a specialist. We got the X-Ray done. The report demonstrated no issues, so the doctor prescribed certain medicines which did not give much relief to the pain. Consequently, in August 2018, I took her to our dentist, when she saw my mom’s mouth, there were white patches all over the upper palate. She was almost sure that the disease is cancer.
My mother also had a history of cancer, like 16 years back, she was diagnosed with the disease, but with the help of radiation, she had recovered from cancer.
A biopsy confirmed the cancer reoccurrence.
I took her to a renowned Onco surgeon. The specialist after examining her revealed to me the heartbreaking news that considering her age surgery was ruled out and that she had one year in her hand and in case she lives more than it will be challenging and painful for her, he advised that we could consult a Radiologist, but that would also give her only temporary relief.
In the course of her treatment, I read about Waghmare, Ayurvedic cancer hospital in Valsad from an NRI who had given up on the cancer disease and treatment and had visited India to meet his aunt for the last time. His aunt inspired him and persuaded him for the treatment once in this hospital. After taking the treatment, he recovered.
I took my mom there for treatment, and luckily, that worked for her. The patches reduced, and swelling almost subsided.
We returned to Mumbai and were to follow up with them after a month.
Unfortunately, my mom became impatient, not realizing that Alternative medicine is slow but effective and would have healed her. Given her relief, also she did not have any other alternative. One day her ayurvedic medicine got over, and she did not inform me for 10-12 days, and so her swelling reoccurred. When I asked her, she disclosed to me that she wants to go for radiation as that had cured and relieved her earlier, and she can still tolerate it.
Since the swelling had increased and abscess ruptured, the radiologist refused to give her radiation and was advised to go for chemo medicines. Still, it was not providing her relief, so Oncologist decided to give her six sessions of weekly mild doses of Chemo since she was still strong and active and did all her house chores herself.
Chemo proved disastrous for her. She deteriorated with every Chemo and had to be hospitalized 3-4 times in 3 weeks.
She was losing all her strength and confidence, and it was harrowing for me too to see her in this condition, my mom who till now had to lead her life with her terms, a strong, hardworking independent woman.
I could see her in pain, not so much for her disease but more because of her being at the mercy of people around, for the first time in her lifetime I saw her losing her confidence.
I put my foot down and decided to stop the Chemo sessions after the third one.
I came to know about Palliative care and chose it over these aggressive treatments to let my mom live the rest of her life in peace n with respect without any more torture and pain.
My mom, too, began taking the treatment. The best thing about the treatment was that the drug was not very strong; the attendants would visit my mom at my home to keep track of her advancement. Her health began to improve; at least she was able to walk and eat properly.
After a couple of days, she started finding difficulty in gulping the food. I took her to the doctor, and they tried inserting a food pipe, but it hurt her, causing intense pain. Therefore, we brought her home without it.
One day I had gone to attend a wedding ceremony. Her caretaker was with her. When I returned, I saw that she was eagerly waiting for me. She just asked me if the wedding went well and congratulated us. Since it was late, I advised her to take rest and thought that we would talk about it in the morning and will narrate her everything in detail, but unfortunately, from the next day, she was not eating much and soon stopped responding. The specialist disclosed to me that though she is not responding, she can hear, so keep talking to her, she has just a couple of days left, and I should call all her near and dear ones to meet her.
I saw my mom sleeping like a child, shrunk with her hands and legs bent, totally given up and lost all hopes.
I started talking to her, told her, mom, don’t give up like this. You have always been such a confident, courageous, strong woman, even in your battle with the ailment, please remain like that and go peacefully, we all will be fine, do not worry about us” Within few minutes I saw her turning, and she stretched her arms and legs and slept straight. I was delighted to see her strength returning, so she could hear whatever I was telling her.
Her last days, I kept caressing her head, holding her hand in mine and chatting all good things with her which I thought she would like to hear, I knew she was listening, though not responding.
She was unable to move, but the good thing was that she was in her senses. I called my family- my dad, brother, and sister. My sister also kept talking to her and told her, “mom, I love you.” Instantly, we saw a tear rolling out of her shut eyes.
She knew everyone was there, and the first time in so many days, she opened her eyes, took a proper glance at everyone, and shut her eyes for the last time.
She passed away that very night as if she was just waiting for everyone to visit her.
I tried my level best to save my mother from cancer. I left no stone unturned, yet this time, I could not.
But I was satisfied that she was at home and at peace and went with grace, her abscess on the cheek vanished, and her face was glowing, looking beautiful and divine.
She left for her heavenly journey in February 2019, not even one year!
The message that I would like to give to all those who are taking care of their parents or near and dear ones is that –
- Give them love and warmth.
- Always attempt to comfort the patients in an ideal manner, particularly aging patients like my mom or those who have lost all hopes.
- Do not go for aggressive treatments for cancer patients of her age. Instead, Alternative medicine, Holistic healing, and Palliative care are better options.
- Our goal should be to reduce their agony as much as possible. Fight till the end. Treat them with extreme love, fondness, warmth because these might be your last days with them.-Rajaani