Monday, June 27, 2022

I am Jacky Paul, a caregiver to my mother, today she is a luminary who lived with lymphoma Cancer with a smile. I take pride in my mother for her strength and love. 

The inception 

The start is with the dry cough being diabetic we thought it would settle down after a few days. But it continued for more days than expected so we consulted the doctor. Before consulting the doctor we settled our thoughts thinking that it is just a dry cough that can be cured with medication. Observing my mother the doctor requested a blood test. The reports showed a low hemoglobin count. So we thought it could be due to less hemoglobin count, but the thought did not settle in. Later she complained about the burning sensation in her stomach. The symptoms have already started showing out, one after the other. Because we are not aware that the symptoms could be related to lymphoma cancer, we were not able to contemplate her condition. But now that I am aware of cancer, when I see a person, I would try suggesting cancer diagnostic procedures or consult with the doctor. 

Later we consulted a doctor who concluded that the symptoms are ulcers and started the treatment for ulcers. Half of the month passed away but there was no improvement in her condition. Later we requested the doctor for sonography which revealed that there is a stone in the gallbladder and an inflammation that needs to be operated on. As in Tripura, there is no sophisticated hospital that can carry on this surgery, so we went to Assam.

The diagnosis

In Assam, we got a CT scan done which revealed the news of lymphoma cancer. The doctor said that there is an inflammation in the gallbladder that has passed to the common bile duct and the nearest lymph node and the already cancerous cells have spread through the stomach. Cancer has further spread to the lymph nodes near the neck. The doctor told us that they cannot treat cancer in that hospital and asked us to consult with a cancer hospital. 

So we went to the cancer hospital where they suggested an FNAC diagnostic test. The FNAC test was done two times because the first result came out negative, and the second result was not clear either. So the doctor suggested a biopsy test for which a part of the organ, the tissue is removed.  My mother got scared hearing the procedure to which she said no and she cannot do that. I tried talking to my mother telling her that we have to try out all the options for a better procedure and treatment,  and this is the first step we have to take. She was not convinced so I took her to the doctor. The doctor told my mother a few encouraging words “ You are a mother of two children and compared to all that this is a very small test”, to which she eventually agreed. The biopsy was done, and the report came on the next day. 

The next day I went to the hospital alone, leaving my mother at home. I waited for 3 hours before the results came and I was called into the doctor’s office. That three hours wait felt like an endless time. While waiting there I saw many patients of different age groups with pipes attached to different body parts, and bandages wrapped around different body parts. I felt so lost and torpid among them. Eventually, I was called into the doctor’s office, I was told that the reports came out positive with stage IV lymphoma cancer. The very first question I asked the doctor is how much time she has left, to which he answered 9 to 10 months. I was about to walk out hearing what the doctor has said, thinking it is absurd that the mother is totally fine until now and only has a few months to live. Then the doctor asked me to be patient and listen to everything he was saying about how my mother’s condition will proceed, what I have to do to help my mother during her nine months of life. I reminded myself that whatever I am today, my mother has supported me, helped me, and stood by me, and now it is my turn to be by her side and fulfill the duty of her son. The doctor told me that as cancer has spread a lot and is in stage IV they would not recommend chemotherapy as it would be painful. I also agreed with the decision not to give chemotherapy. 

My mother

I am very proud to be her son, I was never ashamed to tell anyone about my parents. My mother studied until the first standard and my father till the third standard, we were not economically well off. No one in my family has got to study as I have studied. I am a biology teacher in a private school with education degrees of M.Sc and B.Ed. 

My mother is from West Bengal. After she got married to my father and came to Tripura, never in 30 years she went to her hometown, thinking about me and my father. She dedicated her whole life to us and our needs above herself.

During my final exam for my Master’s degree, the university I was studying at was approximately 150 km away from our house. During my exams, she stayed with me near the university. During that time she got the news that her mother passed away, but she never said she wants to go to her hometown. Instead, she told me that she has prepared meals so I have to eat and prepare for my next exam. She was a selfless human being. 

As she is uneducated and cannot study the signs, she was not aware that we got the biopsy done for lymphoma cancer in a cancer hospital. She was not aware that she was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer.

The journey… 

We told our mother that it is a normal infection and it will be treated and you will recover gradually. We gave her complementary treatment, like Ayurveda, yoga, etc along with the medication given by doctors. But after a month she asked why my condition is still the same and why am I not recovering. Then I decided that she should be aware of her condition. Because a person should know about themselves for their life to be complete, in both good and bad situations. I told her that even though we cannot win the fight, we have to fight so that we will not have regrets while leaving this world. So I said to my mother about lymphoma cancer without mentioning the time she have left and asked her to be strong and happy for the rest of the time just as she was before the diagnosis. I started showing her videos of cancer fighters who fought cancer. 

I tried to indulge her in activities to divert her mind from the negative thoughts. Like making her sing songs and record them, I listen to them very often till today. It brings a smile to my face. I never showed her pity nor allowed anyone. I fed her food like she was a little child. She is a serial enthusiast and never misses them. When she misses an episode I used to give her an explanation of the episode she missed. 

She passed away at two-midnight. Approximately two hours before passing away she complained that her body was burning and she was in pain. I tried to soothe her pain by telling her jokes to which she laughed. After her pain subsided I left for my room. Again I heard the voices of my mother, so I left for her room. While sitting with her, I thought of ‘sometimes death is more gratifying than a blessing’. I wanted her to go peacefully rather than seeing her in pain. Her last words were father of Jacky, let me free from this. She passed away without pain. 

Lessons learned

Never ignore any kind of body discomfort, distress, or abnormal symptoms.

More Podcasts