“Cancer is a deeply personal disease. It affects all of us – including me. We all have friends and family who have lived and sometimes died with this horrible disease. Cancer exerts a tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities, health systems, and countries. Nearly every country has seen an increase in cancer cases over the past decade, and over the next 20 years, cancer rates are projected to rise by at least 60%.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director-General World Health Organization
Citation: WHO report on cancer: setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Cancer barged in
Uninvited and unwelcomed
Wanted us to shake and break
We stumbled and wavered
It mocked at us and made us shiver
But we stood like a rock and became braver
Raised our spirits and said It’s enough
It’s our turn to daunt you
We fought our best
To make it just a guest
To deter it from staying forever
We won and you lost
Cancer—–I think the name is enough to scare anyone. And, this spine chilling exploration comes unexpected and uninvited for everyone.
Change is inevitable. And, the sooner we accept, the better for us. But, what if the change is brought from some precarious disease? Exactly the same thing happened with me. Cancer had made its dark sudden appearance in our life in 2018 and then nothing has been the same since then. Life had turned upside down when my mother-in-law was first diagnosed with it.
You may have read many real stories of cancer, of either friends, family acquaintances, or celebrities. The recent one is of Late actor Irfaan Khan who succumbed to a rare cancer–neuroendocrine tumour (NET); chances are that you may not heard of. As he had revealed in a tweet that the confrontation was unexpected, but could gather strength to fight it off. Indeed, tumors and cancer do catch us unawares, always.
Here I wish to share my own
Life changes completely when someone is diagnosed with cancer—for the individual and the family member
It was a just a usual day for me in 2018 after the Holi festival. My mother-in-law said that she has some hard lump on her breast fora year and there is no pain or any problem. I immediately got suspicious and booked an appointment with an oncologist. Until that day, my family members never knew why people visit oncologists.
That day the most shocking news the oncologist told us was she had breast as well as thyroid cancer. Our world seemed devastated: further, we were just clueless as to the course of action one should take. We returned home and mustered up courage to get through this. We began searching, surfing, consulting to find the best oncologist and cancer hospital. Finally, we zeroed in on the hospital and doctor.
Every day was like a phase that was not ready to pass. Financial burden was just one part of the entire process, although very important one. A major chunk of the entire retirement gratuity and provident fund was spent to cover the treatment costs. The pain associated with the treatment, the relentless care ofthe patient, along with the daily house chores, and upbringing of my toddler was a ticking time bomb. Last but not the least, my better-half co-managing hospital with office work. There was no respite for anyone of us. There were times when the bomb would explode and then I turned to God to seek strength, patience and perseverance. There were many highs and lows but we steered through.
Can Cancer Take a Toll on Second Inning of Life?
The painful course of treatment began with a number of blood tests, PET scan biopsy and FNCA. These were just preliminary tests to confirm the type nature size of cancer. It was veritably just a tip of iceberg.
My mother could never imagine that she had to deal with something so traumatic just when her second phase of life had begun. She had just crossed 60 a year back and together with my father-in-law she had made so many exciting plans for enjoying their second inning. The first inning of their life kept them busy in upbringing their kids, making them fiercely independent adults. They made innumerable sacrifices and nursed the kids with toil and care—the like of any middle class family in India. This cohort has parents do everything for their kids’ happiness, and their own dreams and luxury take a backseat; a strong sacrifice, I should admit. And then, then we wait for that day when their children will be settled and they will be having ample time and finance to fulfill our dreams.
But Alas! Cancer struck them and us off-guard. The cancer was a mental, physical, and financial agony for all of us.
It was not just her battle but ours as well: we had to win it under any circumstances. After initial tests were over, throat and breast surgery was scheduled. In her entire lifetime, she has never gone for any surgery and suddenly she was told she would have to undergo surgical knife. Soon after all diagnostics were done, the crucial surgery of throat and breast was scheduled, and was performed successfully with the outcomes we had expected. We were so thankful to the surgeon: the surgery was immaculate.
It took almost one month for her recovery. That one month was not at all easy — she needed utmost care. Thankfully, all my sister-in-laws had arrived during that time to be with us in that difficult time. Mood swings, emotional breakdown, and physical strain had become an inextricable part of our life. We strived hard to keep her morale high and motivate her that everything will be okay.