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Bhadresh Sheth (Blood Cancer Caregiver): Live Care-Free Like Children

Bhadresh Sheth (Blood Cancer Caregiver): Live Care-Free Like Children

My dad never had any bad habits. He always used to have Parle G biscuits in his bag to feed stray dogs. In case he couldn't see any stray dogs on any day, he searched for them, fed them, and then only came home.

Blood Cancer Diagnosis

I was born in Mumbai. I have a very small family. Our financial condition was not so good, but my father never let us suffer from anything.

I was in Mumbai till my 8th standard, and then till 10th, I studied in a Jain Dharamshala. Everything was going well. My elder brother was very close to me; we had a very great bonding. Because of many reasons, we shifted to Gujarat. My father struggled a lot for two years to settle in his work. Later, he was shifted to Surendranagar and started working with my maternal uncle.

Suddenly, after a few days, he started having weakness and a fever. Everyone thought it was happening because of atmosphere changes. He used to take medicines and feel better, but one day, his health suddenly started deteriorating, and we went to the local doctor and got some tests done. All the reports were normal, so the doctor prescribed some medicines for two-three months.

He was fine for three months, but then again, he started feeling unwell. We took it seriously and consulted various doctors this time, but we didn't get any conclusive results. Someone asked us to go for some blood cancer-related tests. We were shocked to hear that and didn't want to go for that, but at the back of our minds, we had a thought what if it is true? We crossed our fingers and went for the tests. When the test results came, he was diagnosed with Leukemia, a type of Blood Cancer.

Blood Cancer Treatment

We got him admitted to GCRI, but it was too crowded, and my father wanted a peaceful place. Someone suggested to us a hospital that was known for its hygienic and peaceful environment. We got him admitted there and started his Blood Cancer treatment. He underwent Chemotherapy. My father required white blood cells every 3-4 days, but we never had to contact anyone for the donation; we got help from everywhere. That was when I realized the importance of blood donations and thought of donating my blood from then on.

My father had a great connection with everyone. One of the laborers who used to work with him told us that he wanted to be with him and take care of him in the hospital. He told me that he was brought up in an environment where he saw only the cruel side of the world. But after he met my father, he changed a lot and became humble after being with my father.

I was young at that time, so I rarely visited the hospital. Whenever I visited the hospital, I saw that the entire hospital staff got so attached to my father that even when my mother was not with him for a few minutes, the hospital staff used to take care of him.

He spent 6-7 months in the hospital. I never got much chance to spend time with my father, initially because of his studies and later because not many people were allowed to be with him. Therefore, even if I visited him, it was only for a few minutes.

His Sudden Demise

I still remember it was "Sharad Purnima Night when I got a call saying that he would get discharged the next day. I felt so happy that it was already Navratri at that time, and my father was getting discharged at that auspicious time.

I was outside the house when I got the call, but as soon as I got the call, I rushed home in the excitement that I needed to get ready to bring him home. Suddenly, after half an hour, he started Vomiting with blood and left for his heavenly abode.

I could not accept this news because just half an hour before, I had received a call that he would be discharged. But now everyone was saying that he had passed away. I was numb at that time. People who had heard about his passing started coming home, but I was just wandering around, unable to understand what was happening. I could not believe what had happened until I saw the ambulance arriving and saw my dad in front of me. I broke down and cried non-stop. I felt utterly blank after seeing his body in front of me. I never knew that those moments of extreme happiness due to his discharge news would turn into something like this.

We took him to his funeral pyre, and as soon as we pushed him for cremation, we were completely shattered. While he was in front of us, we still felt his presence, but after the cremation, the reality sank in that we would not be able to see or touch him again. I cannot put into words the depth of that feeling.

Clowning helped me to cope up

I never thought I would be able to cope. For two years, I cried every night. I changed a lot and became very quiet. Wanting to focus on my family, I moved to Ahmedabad and started a job. Later, I found out that my colleague, Mr. Jitendra Lunia, went to the hospital dressed as a clown. I saw some pictures of him in clown attire at the hospital but didn't understand what it was about. When I asked him, he explained that it was clowning.

I asked him what clowning meant, but he said he would love to show me instead of explaining it in words. We set off on Saturday and went for clowning. The first time I entered the hospital, memories of previous incidents with my father flooded back, but I tried to control myself. As I entered the ward, I couldn't believe it was a hospital ward, but then I realized it was indeed one.

Many volunteers were engaging in clowning for cancer patients in their unique ways. I was surprised to see how cancer patients were laughing and dancing with the cannulas in their hands. It didn't resemble a cancer patient's ward. It was a sight I had never witnessed before, so I felt a bit uneasy at first, but I decided to join clowning from that day onwards.

When I was about to leave, I saw volunteers sitting in a circle. They called me and asked me to join them. They said it was a circle of reflection to share everything we experienced or felt while clowning or even in our lives. I feel that this reflection circle should also happen in our day-to-day lives so that we can take off our masks and express everything we went through during the day.

"I introduced myself in the reflection circle and narrated my father's journey. My life took a U-turn after I joined clowning. It seemed like my life was back on track. I never visited any hospital after my dad expired, nor did I have the courage to visit. I could not join clowning for two to three weeks, but then suddenly, I wanted to go for clowning and make those patients happy. I gathered the courage and visited the hospital and did clowning, imagining how I would have tried to make my father smile if he were in this same place. The response was so positive, and everyone appreciated me for doing clowning.

I learned a lot of things while clowning. Making those kids fighting cancer happy feels like an achievement to me. Clowning helped me to cope with everything, and kids taught me that no matter the situation, you should never give up and look forward to life. I always loved singing, but I was too shy to sing in public, clowning made me open up and follow my passion. It has helped me in my personality development also.

Parting Message

Don't bottle up things; you have a small heart, and you cannot handle all the things alone, so try to express your emotions and feelings. Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. So try to make people happy as much as you can and share whatever you feel. Whatever has to happen will happen, and we don't have control over it, so just accept it and move on. No problem seems to be big because of the problem; it depends on how you react to it. Don't give much importance to problems. Live your life carefree like children.

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