In anyone's life, 25 years of togetherness is a landmark and is supposed to be memorable, and it was as my test results which came on my 25th wedding anniversary, indicated that I may have one of the most dreadful things - Cancer. The next few days were spent consulting doctors and getting different opinions from health experts.
Finally, with the intervention of my brother, who is a doctor as well, guided us to one of the best oncologist surgeons in town. Best for me, as he explained meticulously what I have and his plan and procedure. It all began with a heaviness in my abdomen, and I went for a complete health check-up.
The ultrasound revealed a huge cyst in the abdomen, and the blood reports correlated the presence of cancer. Such was the size of the cyst and the intensity of the matter, I had to be immediately admitted for surgery to remove the cyst. It was a major surgery where they removed the cyst very carefully and thoroughly so that it did not rupture during surgery and spread to other parts.
In short, having found that it was high-grade cancer, the relevant organs were removed. The surgery lasted almost 4 hours, and the doctors did a marvellous job of saving me. I was recouping well, getting back on my feet, and meeting my doctor every week as advised to remove more the 40 stitches in phases.
I was also asked to consult an oncologist, who confirmed that though the cancer had not spread to any other parts and was completely removed, I needed six chemotherapy sessions. I started preparing for the chemotherapy by talking to friends and family who had cancer and educating myself with the help of doctors and online searches.
'Another Blow In My Life'
That's when I had another blow - complications associated with the surgery, which rarely happens, and I am one of the rarest. When so many organs from your abdomen are removed, the other organs in the area try to adjust to the additional space inside.
In my case, the intestine decided to stack up, restricting digestion. It was one of the most painful weeks of my life when I was in intensive care and then in a hospital room with tubes and wires all over me. All this was amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three weeks after my return from the second hospitalisation, I had an appointment with my doctors. This time, I was told I needed immediate Chemotherapy (CT) sessions as there had already been a long gap since the surgery and for the CT to have an effect. The first session of chemotherapy itself was not that painful, but what followed as the side effect took a toll on my health.
The side effects are different for different people. Around 36 to 40 hours post the session, I would be unable to get up from bed or eat anything, and every joint in my body would have excruciating pain. This would go on for a week, and by the time, week three would be staring at me for the next chemotherapy session.
During these interim three weeks, I would have to keep a tab on my blood counts and get injections to increase my WBC levels – with my immunity down and coronavirus all around. I completed three CT sessions and contemplated if I had to go through the other three.
'A Numbing Experience'
When the news of cancer came, it was a numbing experience, and it took time for it to sink in the entire family. I was constantly asking why, as I am a very active person, always on the move, even in my office, as the job demanded me to be in several places. I was also into Yoga, running, and cycling in a big way in the last three years.
However, when I saw kids and young adults in the hospital suffering from this dreadful disease and yet taking things in their stride, I thanked the supreme power called god, who blessed me with a peaceful and healthy life till now. This was like a speed breaker; I was expected to slow down and glide over carefully.
In all this, unstinted family support is significant to face physical and mental trauma. Though my husband and son were going through mental agony, they would always cheer me up and make fun of me at times as I had gone entirely bald and also lost my eyebrows and eyelashes (though these are temporary and would come back once the CT is complete). This would make me focus on better things in life. They were always by my side to support me physically and mentally.
I would also turn to my brother and sister-in-law, both of whom are doctors, for constant guidance and advice. My dad continues to be my biggest inspiration, he fought cancer for nearly 20 years. A retired Colonel of the Indian army, he would say if I can do it at this age, you also can.
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