Major General C.P Singh, a celebrated veteran, has fought several wars for the country. On his fiftieth birthday, he got the shock of his life after being diagnosed with Cancer. Instead of being bogged down, he fought the dreaded disease thrice like a true-blood soldier and conquered it. He shares his story:
In 2008, I was commanding the Artillery Brigade in Delhi. It was a prestigious appointment, and I had everything one wished for a loving family, brilliant children, a busy career, recognition and happiness.
During the annual medical check-up, some anomaly popped up in the report, and my doctor was apprehensive about revealing something was wrong with me. I grew inquisitive but never got anything except vague answers.
After several attempts, a senior doctor spoke to me. He tried to sugar-coat words and tell me that there I had a lymph node infection of a cancerous type but couldn’t classify it as full-fledged Cancer.
I never saw what was coming. I grew impatient and asked him if I had Cancer. There was a minute of stark silence.
I got my reply.
Honestly, I wasn’t prepared to hear YES. Not even in the wildest of my dreams.
THE WHOLE WORLD HAD CHANGED FOR ME when I stepped out of the room. The volume of the ‘C’ word resonated and banged against my brain walls. I drove back. I sat down. Life is never going to be the same again. The realization kicked in.
A Maligned Word:
The king of all disorders, Cancer, is a maligned word. The problem with the term cancer is that it is like a snake bite. More people die of heart attack and paranoia after being bitten by a snake than from venom.
Surviving Cancer is Winning Cancer:
In one of my articles, I stated that a cancer survivor is a winner. Even if you merely survive Cancer, you are the winner.
A Lady of Steel:
My wife has always been a woman of grit and courage. She reminded me that I was a teetotaler and, therefore, not at fault. She convinced me that it was a curable disease. Empowered by her kind and bold words, I decided to fight the enemy.
My son, who had by then just joined the Indian Air Force, took a leave after a long fight with the authorities to see his father. My daughter used to wave through the glass before every exam and came out with flying colours despite everything that went through, all of us!
What helped you in your journey?
Firstly it is the attitude. I was determined not to die. Secondly, it is the support of your friends. At NCI Nagpur, I came across a caption that left a deep imprint in my mind.
It says, “Hum Sabki Ladai” Isn’t it true that it is our collective fight against Cancer as a society?
To give you an analogy, just like terrorists do a recce and find the weak spots of an area and then infiltrate and carry out attacks, Cancer attacks the weak spots of your body.
The Underlying Risks of Erroneous Detections:
Like my friend Dr B.S Mahal (Retired Ex-Army) claims, inadvertently examining and labelling strains erroneously can change lives and has been claiming lives for decades.
A lazy technician’s labelling error in a sample can lead to dangerously misleading reports and cost lives.
People with malignancy will be told that they don’t have Cancer, and people who have never had even a cancerous cell in their body, ever, are told they have Cancer
The Role of Psycho-Oncology:
Psycho-Oncology is essential in winning the battle against Cancer
Beyond medicines, family love and affection are essential for the recovery of the disease.
In most cases, Cancer affects you mentally more than your body.
During my treatment, I saw beds empty daily because many people did not make it. Most of them wither away due to their fear.
If you look at the case of Lance Armstrong, his testicular Cancer metastasized to several organs, and he came back from a 3% survival chance, only to become a World Champion again.
The Number Games:
Even when the doctor told me the chance of survival was 20%, I was cheerful. That’s because it meant that there was an 80% chance that I was going to Heaven. Look at the COVID-19 Pandemic.
People are so scared that they forget that only 3 lakh people have died. But over 11 lahks have died of Cancer in the last three months. For COVID-19, there is only a 3% chance that you will die.
Did your Army background help you recover?
Being a soldier, there is no doubt that my body’s immunity was always high.
I was fortunate to receive help from the best doctors in the medical fraternity.
What lessons did Cancer teach me?
Cancer gave me the courage to face any adversary. Today, I have the
courage to stand up to any adversary. I have learnt that one should never sympathize with the patient. The doctor does 50% of the work. The remaining 50% is a lifestyle disease.
What Do you Say for Caregivers:
Doctors, paramedics and nurses are nothing less than angels. They are the ones who fought and conquered Cancer while I only stood my ground.
After this ordeal, my respect for them has risen very high.
The Neglected Children:
The children belonging to the families of paramedics, doctors and nurses deserve love and attention. National calamities, pandemics or ailments of any order, the medical fraternity stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the patients and their families.
But, what most of you do not know is the sad fact that their children get neglected the most. Most emotionally and mentally affected children come from families where their parents cannot give time to them because they are busy fighting for someone’s life in the hospital. These children need a lot of support and care from all of us.
Finding Joy in Little Things:
Learning to find joy in small things will go a great way in your emotional healing. I grew back black hair again and was ecstatic over it. One of the best outcomes of chemo is that I had no cholesterol, sugar, or BP.
When most people cringe about chemo, I rejoiced that after my chemo sessions, my Cholesterol, Sugar and BP levels were ZERO. (Pun Intended)
Everything is in the mind. Have faith in God. Have compassion for others. When somebody comes to you, please be compassionate towards them!
I am glad and thankful to all of you—especially people like Dimple Parmar from ZenOnco.io and her team for motivating people in their fight against Cancer.
One should be eternally hopeful. Hope can win all grounds. Hope for miracles. They do occur.
Pain is inevitable. But Suffering is optional. Don’t let Cancer dominate you. Be Positive. Be a Fighter.
Cancer does not differentiate. It has a non-transferable account. Pain is inevitable; Suffering is optional. Please don’t suffer. Adversaries do come. Make yourself strong. Don’t let Cancer dominate your life. Let everybody live. Try to lead an everyday life. Let Cancer feel it has made a wrong choice. Don’t take Stress. Stress further complicates things.
On National Cancer Survivor’s Day, Dimple Parmar, founder of Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io, shares motivational quotes from several people.
Mehul Vyas: Cancer started the fight; I finished it.
Kishan: Be like a duck; no matter how deep the sea is, keep paddling
Atul: Have strong faith in yourself; you can do it, and always be grateful for what you get in life
Dr Gauri Bhatnagar: How you respond mentally, physically and verbally to what life throws at you affects your health and healing most significantly.
Vidya Sharma: Add life to days and not days to life
Mr Pathak, a cancer survivor, while thanking Major General C.P Singh for inspiring people, shares how he abstained from revealing his condition to too many people while going through a stem-cell transplant. He believes most people only sympathize and don’t empathize.
Because only a few people knew that he had Cancer, he was reminded very few times that he was a cancer patient. That played a massive role in his recovery. He adds that every battle is first won in the head.
Once won mentally, any battle can be won. Every individual’s response to complexity is different. It is easy to be suggestive or opinionated, but being empathetic plays a decisive role in a patient’s recovery.
Beating up healthcare professionals is rampant in India. People will take up this holy profession only if the earning opportunities are good or it draws much respect from society.
Dr Bhatnagar: How can a person be hopeful in severe Pain and discomfort?
Major General C.P Singh: Firstly, keep the patient occupied and divert their attention. Talk to them about better things in life. Secondly, have faith in God. Have faith in God. He will take care of you. And like SRK says, ‘Humari Zindagi Filmo Ki Tarah Hai, Jisme Hamesha Happy Ending Hoti Hai. Nahi hai To Sochna Interval Hai. Abhi Film Baaki Hai Dost.’ Remember that if there is any sorrow, that too shall pass.
Further, Dimple Parmar adds that there are four pillars of wellness. First is the right kind of medicines, and second is the right kind of nutrition by Onco-Nutritionists. Nutrition or Food is medicine in itself. The third pillar is strength and immunity. Fitness and exercise play a vital role in your recovery.
The fourth pillar is emotional wellness. Over 90% of the cancer patients confirmed that they suffered from Depression during diagnosis. Whenever doctors and families extend support and hope, that matters a lot. A lack of emotional wellness is also said to trigger the growth of cancerous cells in the body.
Therefore, a positive environment both in your home and workplace is quintessential. Next, community support in the form of healing circles and sharing survivor stories inspires a lot of cancer patients.
Ending his words, Major General C.P Singh goes on to say that even if a person is in the final stages of life, they should remember that miracles do happen in this world. Keep your hopes high.