Cancer!! That word is enough to create panic environment around you. That’s what exactly happened when my dad was diagnosed with Cancer. I know, I am not supposed to reveal this but I really don’t care about it. Whole world around me knows about it now. I don’t prefer hiding it anymore.
The purpose of this post to let everyone know different stages of mental trauma everyone goes through and realize everyone that all this trauma could easily be avoided and should be avoided.
So, around 4 months back my father was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. After hearing this, obviously anyone will start worrying. It happened with us too, specially my mom, she kept crying all the time. Dad had become very weak too. I am sure he must have cried many times (when we were not around him). Everyone from family started saying, why did it happen to dad? He never drinks or smokes, no bad habits then why him? Even dad kept asking himself this same question all the time.
Whenever we hear the word, Cancer, we relate it to what we have seen in the movies, but it’s not like that. There are different types of Cancer. This particular cancer can be 100% cured. It took me good amount of time to get this fact into mind of my family.
So, dad was discharged from the hospital and we had to start the cancer treatment. Now, the big question was, which doctor? (We had really bad experience at the time of dad’s heart attack last year – I will come to this point in another post -) Suggestions started pouring in from relatives. This time, I didn’t want to make same mistake that we made last time. I had done research from my side about the doctors, asked few trusted people and go to know about Dr. M.B. Agarwal.
Before going to the doctor, I talked to one of my very good friends, Ashok Nayak. One of his family members had cancer and he had very good idea about everything. He gave me ideas about things like Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy and couple of other things. He strictly told me, not to go for Ayurveda treatments or any other non-medical treatments. I trusted his word blindly. (Thank god I did)
He even talked to one of his friends who had the same type of cancer and got out of it totally. This helped a lot as I had live example of a person who got 100% cured out of exact same cancer.
The word Chemotherapy is another dangerous word. Everyone relates Chemotherapy with person suffering in pain all the time, blood vomits, he cannot walk, and what not. Infact, quite a few people told us about these same things.
Mom, dad and few very close relatives started getting worried and they were very much afraid of the pain.
So, we finally met Dr. M.B. Agarwal. Took us 3-4 hours of waiting time but we finally got to meet him. Thorough gentleman. He asked us to run few tests (Blood tests, biopsy, pet scan etc..) and meet him again. He also briefed us about the options but he said, he can give the exact option once the pet scan reports are out. (Pet scan generally helps to understand the stage of the Cancer. – at least in our case -)
We met the doctor again after getting all the tests done. He told us that Cancer had spread all over the body and dad was in Stage III B (Total 4 stages). The only option we had in hand was Chemotherapy.
He suggested us 12 cycles of Chemo for 6 months. (Once in every 15 days). Gave us rough idea about the costs and all. (I will come to that point at the end of the post). Dad and mom asked all the questions they had, mostly related to the pain in Chemotherapy. The doctor explained pros and cons of Chemo. He also mentioned very clearly that, the process is not all painful. Yes, there are side effects but those are not like the whole world thinks. They use combination of medicines to reduce the pain and everything has improved now.
This information gave relief to dad and mom. I actually knew about this from the start. (Based on whatever I had read on dad’s decease) Anyways, We decided to start the Chemotherapy in the same week itself.
The first day, frightening like hell. I could clearly see the fear in the eyes of my parents. They both were still in impression that Chemo is related to those huge strong injections and what not. But there was nothing like that. They basically used IV Therapy for Chemo, so no injections. This was relief for my parents.
The whole process took us 4 odd hours, dad was back home. He was feeling little bit weak. First 3 days were painful. Pain, not in terms of suffering but yes, odd things kept happening. But the medicines started working from the next day itself. His fever was gone. (Continuous high fever was one of the signs of Lymphoma – apart from rapid weight loss – )
Days started passing by, people started coming to meet my dad. Some of the idiotic people ended up crying in front of him. (Fake emotions). Some people also told him that you look so aged, you have lost your weight totally and what not. (He had actually lost good amount of weight, around 20 – 25 KGs)
These small things actually ended up being major hurdles for us. Dad kept feeling low all the time. He did not want to meet more people, in-fact we had reached a stage where we ended up restricting anyone to meet him. We just didn’t want that sympathy factor to come in between.
People actually don’t understand, everyone wants a piece of gossip and wants to be first in telling the world about it. So, random people started turning up, started wondering why he doesn’t meet anyone and all. But I didn’t bother about it much. (My mom and dad did though)
We did not tell people the real reason at that point of time, we kept telling everyone that he has blood infection and is being treated. We simply did not want to announce it to the whole world at that point of time. It didn’t make any sense as he was still in early cycles of Chemo.
So, after all that mess, dad got used to Chemo cycles. (Despite of odd disease like Fissure, stomach pain etc..) He slowly started getting back to his work too. (From home).
Slowly, he started losing hair (this is one of the side effects of Chemotherapy). We managed to make dad and mom understand that, it’s not a big deal. Don’t announce about the Cancer but you can tell about it openly to the people you want. Tell them proudly that you are fighting the Cancer and there is nothing to worry about it.
So, 6 cycles were completed. Reached at 50% of the completion level. It was time for Pet Scan to understand how is the improvement. This was done, the reports were in our hands. We could not understand much even though it was written in English.
All we could understand that, there was some reduction and the medicines were working well. Dr. Agarwal’s appointment was at mid of the next week but dad / mom did not want to wait. They ended up asking about it to one of our family doctors, he said there was around 50-60% reduction. They were quite happy but there was no point in getting into any conclusion as no one except Cancer doctor would be able to give exact idea. The report was shown to dad’s main doctor too (who had treated him in Jupiter Hospital and from her only we got to know about the Cancer). She gave some bad news to parents. The reports were not that great. Like always, mom was first one to cry and get worried. This created tensed environment around us.
We finally met Dr. Agarwal and he echoed same views as dad’s doctor. Nothing to worry though but the main lymph node still remained affected. We were asked to continue the cycle, run through another Pet Scan at the end of all the cycles and then decide the next step.
This obviously was not a good news but anyways, that’s life and you really can’t expect firecrackers all the time, you have to keep fighting.
Currently, we have completed 8 cycles, 4 more left. Dad is still hesitant to go down for a walk as he doesn’t want people keep asking him same thing all the time. Still not mentally strong as he used to be earlier. Slightly weak but I totally understand the trauma he has been going through. Even mom is tensed always as she has burden of new responsibilities on her shoulders.
I am quite okay with everything, I often get irritated with few people asking me about his health. (Obviously not the closed ones). People still act as him something major has happened to him and he is gonna die soon, we are totally helpless and what not. My only answer to whoever asks me is “He is doing fine, recovering very well. He works from home”. And that’s the fact. He is fine, fighting and will come out it soon. I am sure about it.
So, in this whole chapter, what I have realized that, Cancer is not as dangerous as it has been projected as. (Yes of-course, there are many dangerous of types of Cancer too). Apart from cancer’s treatment, the mental condition of the person plays major role in cure process. The person should be mentally strong and ready for the challenges. He should not listen to everyone, people are going to show the sympathy, people are going to gossip but he should be least bothered about all these things.
The person should take extra care in food habits, cleanliness and meeting people. Not advisable to meet more people during first few days of Chemo cycle. The person is prone to any disease during that period. The natural ways of treatment many times help (along with Chemo cycles) but you should consult your cancer doctor before doing anything additional.
I will also give basic idea about the costs. Cancer treatment is not cheap. Period. We ended up spending around Rs. 50,000 on every Chemo cycle. Around Rs. 30,000 goes in for one cycle of Chemo + balance Rs. 20,000 goes in to medicines, various reports, doctor visits etc..
So, you should be prepared to shell out around Rs. 7-8 lakhs for treatment of this kind of disease. (Of course the charges vary from doctor to doctor)
Health insurance is highly recommended. It helps during these kind of situations.
I hope this long post will help someone.
Update: As of 15th May, 2013, dad has fully recovered and is free from Cancer.
Note: Please keep in mind that, this is my personal experience, it is not necessary that every person suffering from Cancer will go through the stages we went through. The treatment, cost will differ on case to case basis.