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Charmi (Lymphoma)

Charmi (Lymphoma)


In 2012, after I graduated, I went on a much-awaited trip. When I came back home, I started having back pain. As I have always been lean, I thought perhaps my back was not very strong, causing the pain. At that time, there were many malaria cases around, so we thought it might be malaria, as I also developed a high fever. Soon, I got tested for malaria, dengue, and many other things, but all tests were negative.

It wasn't long before the back pain started worsening. One day, I couldn't lay down on my back, so we ended up calling a doctor who gave me many injections. But even after that, I couldn't lie down. I would sleep while sitting, but as soon as I tried to lie down, the pain would shoot up.

So the doctor immediately suggested admitting me to figure out what it was all about. He wasn't sure and thought it might be TB. As soon as I was admitted, they started giving me antibiotics, and the pain reduced. They conducted many tests, all of which came out negative. Another doctor also suspected TB, so they recommended getting a biopsy done to confirm. We proceeded with the biopsy and other tests, and the reports were expected to come after ten days.

I had no clue about what was going on. I thought it might be TB, but I never used to cough and I always had the notion that TB is always when you are coughing. But the doctor said coughing is not the only symptom.

It was during Halloween when my Biopsy results were to come. My parents asked me to visit the hospital and later they would drop you to the Halloween party on time. So I went with them and met my doctor for the first time. She was just of my grandma's age but was very stern. She was quite straight forward and without wasting time she told me, It's Hodgkin's Lymphoma. You have to deal with it, so better get yourself ready.

My first and only question was, "Am I going to live?" Because I didn't know anything about the disease. Until then, I was just a normal person living a normal life. I still remember her words: "Don't worry, you'll be proud of yourself one day." I trusted her to get me out of it anyhow.

After I left, I ended up going to that party and enjoying it to the fullest. I thought it's just a dream, I'll wake up one day and it will be gone.

Cancer Treatment

A week later, my Cancer Treatment started. till then whatever information I could collect from Google, I did.

The doctors were not sure about which stage it was, so they advised me to get started, and they would let me know the stage later. They asked me to have a port inserted because my nerves are fragile, and the chemo might leave marks, or my nerves could also burst because of those injections. So it was better to get a port done. I had minor Surgery where they just inserted the port in my main vein and every time I took chemo, they would give me through the port.

I started my chemo cycles, and initially, the first month was insane, I didn't know what was going to happen. As it was year end of the year it was cold outside, but still, I used to sweat a lot, puke and sleep . I just remember coming home, Vomiting a lot, eating a little whatever I can and going to bed. I used to get up at midnight and would feel very hot. But after a few cycles, I was adapted.

Doctors were supposed to give me 12 Chemo sessions (6*2), and it went on for quite a long time with a very strict diet. Being brought up in a Gujju family, I always loved having good food, so my parents would cook anything that I wanted. However, I was strictly not allowed to eat outside food or any kind of raw food. Even if I wanted to have a fruit, I had to take out the pulp and boil it before eating it. Trust me, it's not that good to taste.

During my 6th Chemo cycle, the doctor told me that we finally could detect it and it was 4th stage cancer, and for the safer side, they would give me one extra cycle.

Medical Support

My doctor used to tell me that she could only explain the technical terms, but whatever it was, I had to face it. However strong you are, the moment you start crying and feeling helpless, it's not going to help. Her straightforward and blunt behavior helped me a lot. I was literally scared of her. If I asked her silly questions, she used to scold me. It might not work for someone else, but for me, it did. I did not cry much, apart from the food cravings.

The nurses and the staff were also very kind. There was a group of nurses treating me, and I became friends with one of those nurses, who used to be very kind and loving towards me.

The Counselor's Support

Doctors had also provided me with a counselor. I could just go and talk to her anytime I wanted. One day she randomly called me and said I have a very great wig with me and if you want to try.

I went to her during my next chemo and she came up with a very fancy kind of wig, which was amazing. I think it was comforting because I could go out. I enjoyed wearing it. It gave me a lot of confidence. I also flaunted it a lot.

But then I came to this realization one day: okay, I don't have hair, but it's not like it's the end of the world. It will eventually grow back, and if it doesn't, I can go completely bald and still rock it. You just have to have the guts to go out being bald. The only thing that matters is who you are as a person and how you carry yourself. So I returned the wig and told her to give it to someone else who might need it, because I didn't.

Inspiration during my Cancer Treatment

During my cancer treatment, I met a 4-year-old child who was incredibly bubbly and happy. He was undergoing treatment for blood cancer. Even during his chemotherapy sessions, if you gave him something to play with, he would sit for 2 hours without complaining, not even for a needle prick, and that was very inspiring for me. Whenever I saw him, I would think to myself, "This child is only four years old and yet facing this aggressive cancer treatment with a smile." Every time I saw him, I would remind myself that he had every right to complain, but he chose to smile and be brave instead. It made me realize that complaining or crying is never the solution; facing challenges with a smile can give hope and strength.

I also met an uncle who was 60 years old, and he used to come all the way from the south to get his Cancer Treatment done.
Some people right after their chemo went to work. I used to feel how lucky I am to get to rest and recover, and there are people who are struggling a lot of other things as well.

Mental strength is what we need. If you believe you can beat it, you will anyhow and if not at least you will live a life you'll always be proud of.

While getting inspired and discovering my inner strength,my Cancer Treatment ended. After that I was given five years period in which there are chances of relapse, so you get tested every year.

My Father's Support

I have a cancer history in my family. When my father was nine years old, he lost his father to Pancreatic Cancer. So more than me, it was difficult for my father to go through it all again. But he used to be very strong and very supportive. He never cried in front of me because he knew if he cries, I'll lose all my strength. My parents and grandma always kept me entertained.

Friends Support

My friends used to come home to meet me daily. My place was their new adda as they didn't want me to miss on anything.

During my cancer treatment, I did a lot of research and came across a girl who had gone through a similar journey. Luckily, she lived nearby. We got in contact and started talking frequently. Whenever I felt very upset or had strange questions, I would call her, and she would answer everything. She would suggest things she had done, and most of them would work for me too.

There were times when I wanted to say something, but another person would not understand that and would show pity on me. But with her it was easy to communicate.

One thing that she taught me which I can never forget is no one else but you yourself can help you, and the time you realize that you are your superhero.

Initially, I was not very open about cancer, but now I think it's very important to open up and tell people about it because there might be people going through the same journey, and it might give them hope that they too can conquer it.

It's been a life-changing journey:

Being a big Bollywood fan, I used to see a lot of movies. One thing I have learned there is Life is uncertain so live to the fullest because there might not be a tomorrow.

It's been a life-changing journey for me. From me being very introvert to bold and straightforward. I would instead do things which I like rather than doing what other people expect. It turned me in a way that I'll always be proud of.

I won't say people need to go through such experience to learn something, but we be bold to accept the situation and overcome it.

Parting Message

If you are going through anything in your life, I know it's difficult to come out and speak up because there are chances that people wouldn't understand.

Don't do it for people do it for yourself, it's important to talk about our feelings.

During this journey we go through a lot of unwanted stuff and it's not easy. Speak up, maybe just to a random person you meet, speak your heart out and you will feel good.

Live life without regrets.

Make the person you see in the mirror smile everyday, because YOLO.

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