It was during November 2004; I was 11 years old kid at that time. Being an adherent cricket lover, I would play the game for hours every day. One fine afternoon, I tripped down while playing at home. When I didn’t get up for a few seconds, my father sensed something wrong. We observed swelling in my left knee and decided to consult our family orthopedic doctor. The doctor noted the limited movement of the knee, which went unnoticed by us for a long time. He prescribed pain killers and told to come back after one week if the swelling doesn’t go away. The swelling didn’t reduce, and it was quite similar to before. So the doctor asked for an MRI scan which confirmed that it was an initial stage Osteosarcoma, a kind of Bone Cancer in the left knee (if you have watched The Fault in Our Stars, it’s the same disease Augustus Waters suffered).
We went to Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, and the treatment was planned which consisted of 9 Chemotherapy cycles and a Total Knee Replacement (TKR) journey. The entire treatment would take 9-10 months. The surgery was scheduled after the third chemotherapy cycle on Feb 04, 2005, which also happens to be World Cancer Day. Each chemotherapy cycle consisted of five days at a gap of 21 days. All the heavy medicine injections were given through a catheter tube (thin flexible tube) which went straight to the heart from the right elbow. The tube was placed for a period of nine months, right till the last day of the treatment.
The chemotherapy effects on each person are different depending upon chemo drugs, duration and type of cancer. However, for me the effects were intense as I lost my appetite completely, and was confined to bed for almost 8-9 months. The White Blood Cells (WBC) count would go drastically down after each cycle leading to extremely weak immunity. Even a normal sneeze from a healthy person would be sufficient to make me infected! Hence, I was asked to wear a mask whenever stepping out of the room or the hospital. The injections were given for 1 week after each chemotherapy cycle to increase WBC count in order to prepare the body for the next cycle.
After my 4th chemo cycle, unfortunately, I developed an infection, which led to a high fever. In these infections, the fever is not treated by the normal medicines and they had to give more kinds of drips and injections to treat that infection which led to the delay in treatment for more than 20 days. Hence it is essential to follow your doctor’s advice strictly.
The last chemotherapy cycle ended in July, and I joined back my school in August, where I was fortunate enough to receive full support from my teachers and classmates.
My motivation was my parents because they didn’t let me down. I feel if your parents/caregiver has sufficient strength, if they are strong, then the patient also gets the strength. My parents always believed that life always has equal ups and downs, and whenever life goes downside, you need to face it with correct willpower so that you can come up again. But before anyone, it is the patient himself who needs to have strong willpower and an optimistic attitude.
Doctors also play an important role in this; the way they talk, the way they motivate patients, it helps patients in their recovery. I feel whomever you meet during your treatment leaves a very important mark on your mind. After my surgery, one of the physiotherapist contacts, who worked in Singapore, was in the hospital. During his childhood, he underwent the same treatment. He explained to me that there is nothing to be afraid of, and the disease will be gone soon. He further explained how he had multiple surgeries, and then how he ultimately got back on his feet.
Even after 15 years, I still remember that 10 – minute conversation, and that is something which always remains in my mind because such people who you come across during your treatment, work like motivation for you.
However, there are all types of people in the world. I also remember a few negative conversations that I came across during my treatment. There would be few people kind enough to understand what you are really going through, while others won’t be! But then it is up to you, what you allow to go through your mind for your well-being.
Around 15 years back, when I was undergoing treatment, support groups were not common. But today, we have people like Dimple, Kishan who are working hard in this field to provide support to the patients on a larger scale.
It’s very important to have trust and strong will power for a speedy recovery. Some people can have faith in God or in some invisible power, visualizations, subconscious mind or in your doctor. For all the survivors, we need to be thankful for this beautiful life. It might not be according to our expectations, but we need to be grateful that there is a lovely life! Such incidents definitely teach to appreciate the even smallest thing in life.
These phases of life remind us about uncertainty in human lives and gives the message to enjoy each and every day, spread love, happiness, and kindness.
Some people believe that cancer doesn’t happen to young and healthy people. But unfortunately, it does happen. Childhood cancer is a little different because, in childhood, you might not have some negative emotions in your mind. But as you grow up, those negative emotions can come into your mind, so you need to cope up with that. Now I started practicing yoga and meditation, which helps me to keep my mind calm.
Cancer is not a death sentence, and neither can it define you. Medical technology has grown rapidly in the last couple of decades which has helped to discover new treatments, and early detection is always beneficial for the patient and treatment. Even if odds are in not your favor, just never ever give up because miracles do happen!
In the end, let us always remember that our life is a story in which we ourselves are the writers. There are many chapters in this story, and the outcome of every chapter depends on how we handle such situations in our lives.