My Cancer Journey:
When I was in my third year, I had a swelling behind my ear. We had a lecture about surgery back then and my professor was teaching about lymph nodes. I noticed that there was something wrong and I felt it growing. The swelling was very small and I was able to palpate. But I did not give much attention to it then. I started having a fever that lasted for 15 days. I used to be sick very often. I had weight loss and hair loss as well. I became very weak due to frequent fever. At first I thought that it was due to my hectic schedule in my final year of dental studies.
I used to live away from home as my college was in Nagpur. Then when I returned home, my mother noticed the swelling and asked me to consult a surgeon. The Cancer surgeon first thought it to be a tubercular node since it was very small at that time. I started taking antibiotics according to his advice. Later, I did my tests and it came negative for tubercular nodes. So again, I started ignoring it thinking that it will get cured because of the antibiotics I took. I shouldn’t have done that. It started growing and it was showing.
In Amaravati, we went to a doctor after my final exams and did a biopsy. It was very firm. I understood the medical reports from the tests done. It suggested that it was a tumor. However, it was not confirmed whether it was benign or malignant. But I was very devastated to tell my mother about the Cancer diagnosis.
I was 23 when this happened, so no one had thought that something like this could happen to me. Since the first year of my undergraduate life, I used to dream about being an intern. However, I could not join at that time and had to go to Nagpur for my Cancer surgery the next day. That time I did not share anything with anyone, not even my parents or my friends. But now I feel that I should have shared this with someone. It is very important to share things with your close ones. This will help to reduce the time spent on overthinking about the negative things and utilize that time on something that makes you happy.
I was at an initial stage of mucoepidermoid carcinoma. This is a very common carcinoma which can be found in women worldwide. Since it was a cancer related to parotid glands, cancer did not spread to any other part. A surgery was required to remove these parotid glands. However, one thing that had concerned me was that the nerves that are required for facial expressions pass through this area. So this was the risk associated with the surgery.
A surgery was done to remove the malignant tumor. It was very painful. I was very weak due to the blood loss. I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom or sleep properly.
The surgery went well. There was nothing to be scared about. I also didn’t share my burden with anyone. To start my new normal life was very difficult. My parents were stressed too.
Cancer is just a word. This cannot stop me from living. I started focusing on my studies. I got the degree I wanted. I have everything I wanted. I am very privileged.
I always wanted to give back to the community, be it research. I can do something small so that my dream can come true.
My friend circle used to be small. You should communicate as it can relieve stress. I used to not eat properly and mostly used to eat from outside. Meditation for 10 minutes is enough. Start thinking positively.
I got a purpose. I got a new life. Life used to be monotonous. I used to think cancer is equivalent to death. I suggest doing treatments and following the Surgeon’s advice.
Cancer is just a phase in your life. There is more to your life. You can do a lot more with your life.