About the Healing Circle
The Healing Circle at Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io aim to give cancer patients, caregivers, and winners a safe space to share their feelings or experiences. This circle is built on the foundation of kindness and respect. It is a sacred space where everyone listens with compassion and treats each other with honour. All the stories are confidential, and we believe that we have the guidance we need within us, and we rely on the power of silence to access it.
About the speaker
Dr Gayatri is a Paediatrician by profession and has been married to an Air Force pilot for the last 30 years with two lovely daughters. In November 2001, she was diagnosed with Multifocal Plasmacytomas, a variant of Multiple Myeloma, a type of Cancer. She had been through a series of misdiagnoses and a long period of immobility. Cancer showed her the spiritual path, and she gathered tremendous strength and courage through meditation and reading Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. Finally, she came out of the battle victorious.
She believed in God and knew that she could bear this pain and be brave enough to endure this ordeal. Dr Gayatri says, “I was destined to suffer this pain, then so be it! God knew I was strong and wanted to show great things through me. And I know that he has many more great things in store for me, so I like to look positively at that”.
Dr Gayatri’s journey
Signs and symptoms
My journey began in November 2001. I had pain in my left leg just below the knee. The pain worsened so much that I had to take the support of a stick to walk. After visiting the doctor, it was revealed it was a bone tumour. They said that I would be fine once the tumour was operated on. After the operation, the biopsy showed that it wasn’t a bone tumour. According to Tata Memorial Hospital, it was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. But the doctors at Delhi said it was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Treatments underwent and side effects
Since Cancer was very aggressive, they decided to go with lymphoma. Most of the drugs for both cancers are the same. I had six cycles of chemotherapy. After the surgery to remove the tumour, my leg wasn’t healed. My leg was in a cast for four months. Even after removing the cast, I wasn’t able to walk. I had to use a walker to move around even though braces were fit into my leg.
Even after six months of chemo, my condition didn’t improve. Then doctors decided to treat me for myeloma. It is not easy to diagnose since the cells are very similar. In August 2002, I went for an autologous bone marrow transplant. In this transplant, you are given a strong dose of chemotherapy. But before doing so, your bone marrow is collected and stored. After the chemo, you are planted with your stored bone marrow cells back. During this transplant, I had a near-death situation. I knew this, but I agreed because I wanted to live for my kids.
After this, I went for another bone marrow transplant known as an allogeneic transplant. My brother was the donor for this transplant. I went to CMC, Bangalore, for this. These transplants can be very painful and can bring you down. I am blessed to have such good doctors who took care of me. I am grateful to them for their perseverance and hard work. But I relapsed again in August 2003. Again, my brother’s marrow was given to me. Doctors feared that I might have graft vs host disease. When cells are provided to you, these cells attack the cancer cells and the normal cells. It can lead to complications. By the end of 2003, I was in remission. I had some signs of scleroma. My leg wasn’t healed, and I had to use a walker for another year. My limbs stiffened and lost elasticity due to scleroma. Times were tough for me. Plates inserted into my body broke due to stiffness. Doctors couldn’t operate on the broken vessels due to my lost elasticity. Slowly, my lungs were affected too. I started doing pranayama, which helped me with my lung condition.
In December 2006, I relapsed again. This time it was my right leg. I went through the same process again. I also had 20 sessions of radiation. Doctors tried a new chemo drug, but I developed a very nasty reaction. I had pneumonia in 2007. I started meditating after learning it from Brahmakumari. It gave me strength both mentally and physically. I saw pus formation in my left leg, and doctors suggested amputation. But another surgeon recommended that I think about it because it was my leg. So, I went to Tata memorial hospital, where the orthopaedic oncologist removed the pus and gave me IV injections. But this didn’t help. So, he suggested external fixators. After many surgeries with a leg shortening of about 5 cm, my leg wasn’t amputated. After almost ten years, I had to learn to walk again. I started volunteering to help others.
Even though Cancer was misdiagnosed in Dr Gayatri’s case, doctors did their best. She had sent her samples to numerous hospitals like the Army hospital, Tata memorial hospital, and US hospitals. All of them suggested different diagnoses. Only Tata Memorial hospital kept saying it was myeloma. It is hard to diagnose sometimes. So, you should seek a second opinion. It happens in a lot of cases. So, if you are in doubt, always seek a second opinion. We don’t know everything about cancer yet. Seeking a second opinion might help with your case.