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Manish Mandiwal (Colorectal Cancer Survivor)

Manish Mandiwal (Colorectal Cancer Survivor)

Early signs and symptoms

So in April 2019, I was diagnosed with stage three adenocarcinoma of colorectal cancer. The signs and symptoms were irregular bowel movements and some false calls to go to the toilet. That's when I realized it was not normal, but I took it lightly. One or two days later, I noticed other symptoms like blood in stools and white mucus followed by a false call. I found it unusual and immediately went to the doctor. They ordered some diagnostic tests. The diagnostic report was positive for cancer.

Treatments underwent

I went through 28 rounds of targeted radiotherapy. Along with radiotherapy, I also had oral chemo given by tablets. Every evening, I used to go for the radiotherapy. I had surgery followed by chemotherapy. 

I went to the Ayurvedic doctor, and he asked me to consult an oncologist. He knew it was not a simple disease that can be cured easily. That's why I finally decided that I will not go through any alternate treatment.

My support system

My wife, my family, my friends, and my doctors were my support system. I had friends who even flew from the US to meet me. It was really encouraging to know that people really care for you. Even if a single person cares for you, it means a lot in life. I also joined a community called the Ostomy Association of India. They actually helped me to live a new normal.

Emotional impact

At times, I felt tired not only physically but also mentally. Since treatment is very long, it actually tested my all capabilities. Whenever there was any requirement, we called up our very supportive family members. Everyone tried to help us with some of the other tasks. That kind of support actually made me stronger. 

What motivated me

Since childhood, I have had one strong belief that I will live long. Holding on to this belief helped me to get through. I love my life and every moment of it. I believe that I will see a lot of things and meet new people. That's how I kept myself motivated. 

Lifestyle changes after the treatment

I made some lifestyle changes. As per therapy, I have changed my diet. Initially, I lost almost so much weight in nine days. I gained weight as I had to eat up a lot.

Life lessons and positive changes

My cancer journey made me more humble. It helped me to understand the value of life, the importance of time, and the importance of everything else like your lifestyle, members, close friends, and so on. It also taught me how to be responsible. My son was only nine months old back then. It helped me to stay strong. I cannot run away from my responsibilities as a father. It helped me to hold on and fight. It also made me a better person or a better version of what I was.

Message to other survivors and caregivers

I advise them not to worry and to stay calm. Treat cancer like any other disease. Avoid excessive stress and listen only to positive and knowledgeable individuals. Refrain from searching online. Instead, focus on finding a good doctor and the best treatment available. Seek advice from people who have undergone similar experiences.

Dont jump into homoeopathy, Ayurveda, and other therapies. Every therapy might have its own importance. What I am saying is a delay can cause a serious impact on your life. So, always approach the right people. You can at least approach any support group that is working for cancer patients. But don't take input from anywhere. 

One more thing I realised is don't switch doctors frequently. If you want to search for doctors, search for a doctor before starting the treatment. You can go around the entire country, the entire world, but find a doctor before your treatment starts. Because every doctor is different from any other doctor. 

I trusted my doctor completely, and I followed what he said. I think you should do the same. Trust your doctor and follow all the advice. Also, you should not lie to yourself. You should accept your weaknesses and this disease. This is what helped me to fight and stay strong. 

The stigma attached to cancer

Stigmas surrounding cancer persist in society, accompanied by taboos that are deeply ingrained. People may treat individuals with cancer as outsiders, often looking down upon them or expecting the worst. The mere mention of cancer can evoke a sense of impending doom, leading to a distancing effect. There's a tendency to surround those with cancer with an aura of hopelessness, as if they are expected to succumb to sadness. However, I believe in staying strong and positive despite these challenges."

When your inner strength and motivation are inside you and you will not get them from other people. You will only get sympathy. Even God supports the people who support themselves. So that's what I thought. Everything will be the same. Nothing will change. Don't believe that people are going to change. People might not agree with me because this is, again, a stigma. Society is made of people. So the stigma will be there. You have to take it positively and not fall into that trap.

Life after cancer

After completing my last chemotherapy session, my doctor advised me not to lift heavy weights due to my surgery. However, I decided to embark on a ten-day hiking trip to Bhutan and even visited Delhi. Upon returning, I resumed my job without allowing cancer to interfere with my relationships with family, friends, or work.


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