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Amit Ahuja (Breast Cancer Caregiver)

Amit Ahuja (Breast Cancer Caregiver)

It all began at the start of 2017. My mother had gone for a regular check-up, and all the parameters were fine except for her thyroid levels. So, the doctors prescribed some thyroid medicines, and she started coughing a lot when she took them. This happened throughout January. Soon, her thyroid levels went down, and we reduced the dosage of the medicine. By March, we understood something was wrong because she could not function normally or even eat properly.

Initial diagnosis 

By the last week of March, we visited a liver specialist who suggested we take an ultrasound to understand what was actually going on. The person taking the ultrasound noticed an abnormal growth, which made us go for a CT scan. And that is how we came to know that she had stage 3 breast cancer. By the beginning of April, the diagnosis was confirmed, and we consulted doctors on the best way to go about the treatment. 

The beginning of the treatment process

We began the chemotherapy sessions and also added a lot of alternate therapies to her lifestyle in terms of her food and practices. We even consulted a nutritionist who customised a diet chart for her. Apart from her dietary changes, we also included naturopathy, which helped a lot. The initial stages of chemotherapy were really tough. There was always something going wrong. So, to make it easier for her, we inserted a chemo port, and almost twice, the chemo port got infected. 

The surgery and its effects

After three sessions of chemotherapy, we did the tests again, and the results were excellent. The cancer was almost gone, so we thought we would plan a surgery, but the doctor that we preferred was not available, so we finally settled for another session of chemotherapy. This happened at the end of June. 

This session of chemotherapy didnt go well either, and my mother again developed an infection. So by July, we decided to go ahead with the surgery. By July, she had her surgery at the Manipal Hospital, Dwaraka. All her parameters were normal after the surgery, but soon she started having an extremely high fever. 

It was so intense that she collapsed and was admitted to the ICU. She was put on a ventilator, and her hands and legs started turning blue due to the lack of oxygen. She was in the ICU for a week before she came out. This was caused by a septic infection that happened as a result of the doctors mistake, and we had to extend the entire treatment process for a month. 

Even after she was discharged from the ICU, there were always minor problems that she had every day. There were multiple tests taken throughout the one-month stay, and there were 2-4 doses of antibiotics given to her intravenously every day.

Even after all the treatments that were being given to her, she was not getting better, so we shifted her to another hospital, where the specialist took great care of her. And she recovered from her ailments in fifteen days, and she was finally back home on August 27. 

Regrowth of cancer

When we took a few tests later as a part of regular check-ups, there was proof of the regrowth of some new cancer cells. This news was especially hard for her because she was already going through a lot of mental stress. We decided to go for another round of treatment, and in September, she went through another session of chemotherapy.

This cancer was not considered a relapse because the initial plan for treatment was three cycles of chemotherapy, followed by the surgery and then three more cycles to complete the treatment. But since the surgery went bad and she faced many problems, the chemo sessions after the surgery were left out. 

The second session of chemo

When we finally got to do the chemo sessions again in September, we also included homoeopathy in her treatment. That really helped her through the process, and the homoeopathy doctor still gives her guidance on her food practices. 

After the chemotherapy, her health is normal again. We had taken CTC tests, and her parameters are normal. The only thing that has affected her body during the treatment is her hernia. We are advised to go through with an operation, but we are putting it off due to Covid and are planning on doing it as soon as the situation improves.

Our inspiration from cancer

Inspired by the experiences we had with my mothers cancer journey, my sister started an NGO. The main initiative of this NGO was to create awareness about the diagnosis of cancer because people mostly ignore their symptoms as something very trivial and dont get a proper diagnosis. Hence, she started the cancer foundation called Sashak, which has a lot of talks on cancer to make people aware of the symptoms. 

What got us through the journey

I dont think we can point to one factor as the inspiration to get through this phase. There were multiple reasons that motivated my mother through the cancer journey. I believe it was a combination of the generic treatment along with the alternative ones and her spirituality and family that made her journey a successful one. She focused on the things around her rather than what was happening to her. She also tried different types of meditation. 

My message to cancer patients

I have spoken to a lot of cancer patients after going through this process with my mother, and I believe that most of your health lies on whether or not you stay positive. Additionally, following the proper treatment and finding what works for you and a diet that will suit your needs. I have also noticed that more than cancer itself, the patient has to fight the side effects of chemotherapy. So preparing your immune system and health for that is vital, along with fighting the emotional cancer that plagues the mind.

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