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My favourite cancer survivor


Today, this blog is a month old and I could not think of a better post to celebrate this   moment. This post is about my favourite cancer survivor, my grandmother. It is difficult to describe her in words but I will try my level best to do justice to her amazing personality and her fighting spirit.

Her symptoms appeared on a normal day, approximately two years back, after she had finished her daily quota of cooking (her first love and something which keeps her spirits high despite all odds). She noticed blood in her urine, which refused to stop despite medications and it made her and all of us anxious. Without any delay, we got an ultrasound done and it confirmed our worst fears. She had multiple tumors in her bladder. When we broke the diagnosis to her, she was, like all cancer patients, initially in denial but very quickly she reconciled to the fact that she had cancer and started preparing for the battle ahead.

Out of all the doctors in the family, she trusts my decisions the most (advantage of being a grandson 🙂 ) and so she called me to understand her disease and further course of action. Because she had been under the knife many times in her life, she was very calm about the diagnosis & the upcoming surgery, and for once she was happy that something was going to be removed from a her body rather than being added. In all her previous conditions, something had been added to her body (lenses after cataract, stents, pacemaker and artificial knees). 🙂 🙂

She was a bit nervous before surgery, not so much due to the cancer but because of her cardiac condition. Fortunately, her surgery went off really smoothly and although she had multiple lesions, all of them turned out to be superficial lesions which were completely removed. She had a speedy recovery, which was evident from the fact that she was back in the kitchen, cooking delicacies for us & knitting sweaters (her other passion), within a week of her surgery. My grandfather tried to discourage her from knitting after her surgery but we always encouraged her because it was one activity which kept her busy and left her with very little time to think about her disease.

More difficult than the surgery was her ordeal with the six cycles of intra-vesical chemotherapy (chemotherapy instilled into the bladder). She had to tackle repeated infections during this period but her strong will-power helped her pull through during this difficult phase. The first couple of days after each cycle were tough but on the third day she would be back doing what she enjoyed the most (cooking & knitting).

She finally finished her treatment and has been cancer-free for more than a year and a half now.

As a doctor observing her fight against the disease, I realised that being passionate about something (in her case, cooking & knitting) can really help one in channelizing his/her energy and it helps to tide over difficult times. I often give her example to my patients and it gives them hope and courage to fight their cancer with a smile.

17 thoughts on “My favourite cancer survivor

  1. Sir… I was 14-15 yrs old when my Nani was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nani was a very strong lady, but she had some very rigid misconceptions about surgery for cancer. Some age-old belief that if the cancer is touched with the blade, it will spread. My family members made her talk to some cancer survivors we knew, many doctors counselled her, but she adamantly refused surgery. Within a year, the cancer was a huge ulcer. We literally saw her die every day, but till the end she would say she was happy she didn’t undergo surgery. She had a strong will, but stronger misconceptions, I guess.

    I wonder if I was older then, if I was a doctor then, I would’ve been able to convince her, maybe I could’ve used my Granddaughter+Doctor powers to help her survive.

    That is why I have a special something negative for breast cancer, because it took my Nani away.

    And, I’m really happy for your Grandmom. Kudos to her amazing spirit. ^_^

    • Very sorry to hear about your grandmom ghazal. You should try and spread awareness about breast cancer and make sure that this does not happen with any other lady.

  2. Your blog on your Dadi who also happens to be my mother has left me in joyful tears because nothing describes her more eloquently than how you have put it. Her indomitable spirit and ever smiling demeanor allows her to fight every adversity she has faced in life. Her gift to her brood has been much more than amazing food on the dining table and hand knitted sweaters. It is the love that exudes fom every pore of her body without any ifs, buts and maybes….something we all can learn to do !

  3. Very well described feelings and emotions Rohan and it has brought tears to my eyes as well. We all went through a rough patch at that time but it was amazing to see her in those days as well. She was a totally calm lady, sitting at the same place on the dinning table with a cute smile on her face. It is just because of her that I know today that how unconditional and selfless a grandmothers love can be. She is a true fighter in every aspect and an inspiration for many cancers patients. Kudos to you dadi.

  4. Rohan !!! This is an amazing article, but more than that it brought tears to my eyes when i read that dadi faced such a big ordeal !!! brave, enterprising, inspiring she is. Dadi and aunty are my idols on how we must lead our lives. lucky you are to have them and they to have you and ila !

    • Thanks Sai! You have interacted with her and you know her nature. Her determination and zeal to live helped her fight cancer with relative ease. 🙂

  5. What a lovely article rohan! My dads phase through this horrendous disease just flashed before my eyes..but eventually stopped at the beautiful end result of a disease free and healthy individual.
    Kudos to the determination and spirit which these people have demonstrated through all the pain! They sure are a huge source of inspiration for cancer patients.

    • Thanks megha…I remember uncle’s battle against cancer and how he pulled through the whole treatment with a smile on his face.
      Cancer survivors are truly the biggest source of inspiration for us!!

  6. Rohan,
    Wonderful write up, she truly is remarkable.The term “survivor” should be replaced with “conqueror”. It feels like yesterday when the first batch of our college students walked in to my clinic and little did I realize that they were slowly but surely becoming part of a “mission” against this deadly disease.You and Sai (if I remember correctly)were the first recruits for the “dermatoglyphic” study in breast cancer, an ambitious dream to find answers for lack of screening in India.It goes on… and I am truly proud of the progress. It is very true ,we get associated with a “mission and thought” based on our own personal experiences but it is necessary as a doctor to realize that one is truly blessed with the kind of opportunity life provides to share the anguish(Ghazal !!) and awareness about this disease.If detected early, it is curable.For some of you that have shared my ignorance at the clinics, we do see a lot of them coming back, living and fighting hard (the true heroes for me!!)
    God bless you

  7. Rohan, sure, whatever you have written about Taiji is very true. She is full of energy and her passion for cooking make her more energetic. And not to forget, her biggest support your grandfather. Tauji and Taiji complement each other.

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