I am the only person in India who has defeated cancer 6 times. I was fifteen years old when I was first diagnosed. It all started in 2013 when I was in Class 10. I found a small lump on the right side of my neck, which turned out to be cancerous. It was also the first time I heard of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. While there was no pain, the lump grew, becoming more noticeable. I was admitted to Bhagwan Mahavir Cancer hospital in Jaipur for surgery and treatment. It was here that I went through chemotherapy for the first time. I underwent six chemotherapy cycles and was declared cancer-free on 12 January 2014.
I have always been a rank holder in my academic journey. Throughout Class 5 to 9, I held a record for never missing even a single day of school, and then suddenly, because of my health, I was forced to stay home for such long periods.
My recurrent relationship with cancer
In 2015 cancer recurred, and I was again admitted to Bhagwan Mahavir cancer hospital for treatment. That was not my last brush with cancer.
Unfortunately, in early 2017, cancer struck again; this time, it was on my pancreas. I would often experience excruciating stomach pain, and this was during the time I was in my final year. Since I was alone in Delhi, my father urged me to return and get treated immediately. I could not complete my studies because of the pain, and I had to get surgery to remove a 1 cm tumour eventually. I eventually managed to complete my graduation through distance education.
In 2019, I was diagnosed for the fourth time with pancreatic cancer, and I was again back at the doctor’s office to undergo oral chemotherapy treatment. In 2020 there was a tumour detected in my right axillary, and this time my father and I went to the Gujarat Cancer hospital to get it removed.
At the end of the same year, cancer came back, and this time it was in my lower abdomen. I had to get a bone marrow transplant to cure this cancer. There has been no recurrence since then.
Family’s initial reaction
Going through cancer six times is a traumatic experience, and when we first learned that I was diagnosed with cancer, we were all quite scared about how to go about it. Our first concern was what treatment I should take and how much financial strain it would put on the family. But I knew that we couldn’t be stuck in that fear, so I googled my disease and researched what the process would be.
The recurring cancers that came after the first time were not as shocking as the first. We as a family were worried about how much the treatment would cost, but other than that, each time I got diagnosed, we had attained the maturity to accept what was happening and move on to the next step.
Treatments that I underwent to survive the cancers and how I managed my mental health
Throughout the six times that I had cancer, I went through twelve cycles of chemotherapy, sixty rounds of radiation therapy, seven operations to remove tumours, one bone marrow transplant, immunotherapy, and homoeopathic treatment.
After a point, these experiences become something that you can face. Even before cancer came into my life, I had learned that life is more significant than you, and you can not stop whatever happens. I understood that I had to accept it and focus on solving the problems and crossing the obstacles that come my way rather than be weighed down by them.
My startup helped me get through the difficult times
Everyone needs something that keeps them anchored when going through the complex treatment process. My startup played that role in my life. This organisation was started to help cancer patients in India who have gone through similar journeys. I dedicated the startup to sourcing medicines and financial resources for people who might need them.
Even before cancer entered my life, I had read Mark Zuckerberg’s story about how he became the youngest billionaire at 23, which inspired me. I wanted to become an entrepreneur who was the next youngest billionaire. I was 18 when I began my startup, and working with these people has helped me fight cancer more than any other practice I follow.
The lessons that cancer taught me
This journey has been very extensive for me. If I had put together all the times I was in the hospital, I would have been there almost four years. And the few things that cancer has taught me are that I have to be patient, understand the value of time, and that money is essential.
I learned I should be patient with the disease and everything else that comes with it because I can not force anything to happen. The value of time and money go hand in hand. It is vital to get your diagnosis at the right time, and having your finances in order will take a load off you when you are going through the treatment.
My message to the patients and survivors out there
There is a mantra that all successful people follow to achieve great things in life. It is to accept and rise. There are a million things that can happen to you in this life, and there will be good and bad things. So, if you want to overcome all the hurdles that life throws at you, just accept that it is happening for a reason and rise above it.