Many times in life, we are thrown curveballs that either make or break us. We are so caught up with our monotonous lives that sometimes, it takes a shock to wake us up from oblivion. Especially in our youth, living our bachelor lives in college, we don’t let any worry of the world slow us down. At least, I used to think so.
It was July of 2018 when our lives were turned upside down. My girlfriend Pooja left a lump in her breast, and we decided to visit the doctor and get a consultation as soon as possible. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with stage 2, grade 3 Breast Cancer. I still remember the chill that went through my spine that day. We both cried as much as we could that day because we were adamant about fighting this beast and surviving. That was the last day any of us shed a tear. Luckily for me, Pooja has always been incredibly resilient and a fighter. We decided that we were going to catch the bull by its horns and survive this together.
The first step that was taken after the diagnosis was a surgical procedure. The Surgery was to remove the benign mass of tissues, the mother lesion. After that, it was a daily visit to the doctor and innumerable hours on the internet, researching treatment plans and ways to improve this for her. We prepared ourselves as much as possible and were always ready with questions and queries. After all, this was no time to take a backseat. We went from one hospital to another, looking for better doctors and treatment plans.
Apart from the current treatment plan we were taking, which included 12 cycles of chemotherapy, 15 rounds of radiation, and eight cycles of targeted therapy, the one lifestyle change we made for Pooja was her diet.
She was put on a more nutritious and balanced diet that included a lot of berries. They are high in antioxidants, and we came across many articles that suggested including as much as berries, fresh fruits, and fibre-rich vegetables to fight the side effects and Stress of all the radiation she was taking in.
They say miracles happen in this world, too, and we saw one happening before our eyes. Some of the alums and alums from our college in Mumbai made a kit link that allowed them to create a fund and allowed people from our college and all over the world to donate and raise money for Pooja’s ongoing treatment. The link was active for three days, and we raised 8 lakh rupees! We had never imagined this, but the beautiful people around us did, and we shall remain forever in debt to this kindness.
After we were done with Pooja’s treatment, we were left with some amount that we decided to use for other needy patients we met on this journey. I think it was only fair to spread the kindness shown to us.
Seven years back, I lost my best friend Akanksha to acute Leukemia. It was heart-wrenching, but she went down fighting, and I will always be proud of her. She is not here now, but her resilience taught me a lesson that I am still carrying forward with me.
When Pooja and I went to one of the hospitals earlier in the treatment stage, I remember seeing a quote written in the cancer ward: Tough times never last, but tough people do. This quote gave us a different sense of strength that everyone needed in our situation. Those lines stuck with me from that day, and they helped us in our journey. The journey wasn’t comfortable, but now we are thinking of getting married soon- that might be our reward!
For anyone on this journey of survival, I would say: I genuinely believe there is light at the end of every tunnel; you have to decide to live and fight. It is not easy, but the resilience and fight you put in matter. The fight gets rewarded, and he decides to live.