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I was probably 5 or 6 years old when I first came across the reality of death. My aunt (mother’s elder sister) came to visit for the first time in my memory. Married to struggling artists the sisters, thick as thieves in their childhood, hardly met now #livingwithcancer #Cancer
I was too young to know at that time but she was dying. And she was in Delhi in the hope of delaying the eventuality. Mother of a young girl with special needs, she would, over the next few years, try everything she could to live. #livingwithcancer #Cancer #CancerAwareness
It’s at this time that I first heard how my grandfather — a man whose life, work and love for arts I had heard a lot about — died. Of #cancer in the colon in his late fifties. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
My aunt, a patient of advanced endometrial cancer, was terminal when she left Delhi a few months later to go back home. When conventional medicine and its practitioners gave up she turned to Ayurvedic, homeopathic. Anything that gave hope #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
Through her illness she continued to work on her PhD and even finished it. Had a smile, even when she became bedridden. Hope never dies. But she did. She was in her mid-40s. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness #cancer
As it so happens you move on. And so my mother did too. Despite the pain of losing her closest sibling, my mother, with a tough life full of financial constraints, and the responsibility of three children, went on. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
Somehow, with my parents swimming against the current all of us grew up. My sisters became doctors and I, well, became something. And just when things could have hopefully became better they became a lot worse. Eight years back Ma got admitted— colon #cancer #livingwithcancer
A fairly advanced disease. Three surgeries, removal of almost half her colon and 12 rounds of chemo later, she was in remission in 2012. And stayed that way for about 5 years. #Cancer #cancersurvivor
But it was not to be. In about 2 years by 2014 another person started falling sick. Was too young so the problems were put down to bad eating habits, bad sleeping habits etc. But not really. By the beginning of 2015 I could feel a lump in my lower abdomen. #CancerDetection
I hoped, somehow, it will go away. Ignored the growing pain. Ignored the fact that my bladder control was fast becoming like that of a month-old rat on a steady diet of coffee. But the lump grew and so did the horrible pain. In a couple of months scans showed a big mass. #Cancer
Ovarian #cancer for me. Conventional wisdom says it’s rare for a young patient to develop ovarian cancer. Yet here I was. The surgery confirmed it. And I had a few lovely months when I could feel the breeze directly on my scalp. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
Two surgeries (to remove my ovaries and uterus) and 6 months of chemo later I was well on the way to recovery. And I rejoined work. And since then I have done things I never imagined I possibly could after treatment. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
Just when I saw hope, having rejoined work again in 2016, my eldest sister got her test results back — elevated #cancer markers and a lump in her ovaries. Ironically enough she is a gynae-oncologist herself. The same dance. Surgeries. Chemo. Bald head. Big hope. #livingwithcancer
My mother, who was then visiting my sister helping out during her treatment, came back home after being away for nearly a year. A pain in her chest, meanwhile, kept building for over a year. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
Scans the previous year (in 2016) showed a small node in her lungs, which the doctors assured us were merely some old scar tissues. And so she went to stay with my then sick sister. #Cancer #CancerAwareness
She came back in 2017, weaker than before. A different doctor, this time, found more nodes. They had spread over half of her left lung. My mother’s #cancer was back just 5 years later. In the lungs this time. Requiring the affected lung to be removed. #livingwithcancer
A year later in 2018 she was admitted. Again. With severe headaches, nausea and loss of balance. It was back. In the brain. Surgery and radiation this time. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
2019. She’s in the operation theatre again. I am writing this even as some surgeons, with scalpels and lancets, are trying to remove the disease they had operated her for just 10 months back. Again from her brain. #Cancer #livingwithcancer
It’s her 6th surgery in the span of eight years. Her fourth time fighting #cancer. Colon, lungs, brain. I have never considered ourselves unfortunate. Not when we we struggling financially. Not when I got diagnosed. Not when my sister or mother first fell sick. #livingwithcancer
I have never spoken about our tryst with #cancer very openly. Not because I am ashamed but because I have found it easier to deal with it. I don’t know why I am putting this out today. Maybe some sort of catharsis. Maybe it’s my anger, finally that this is happening again.
My mother, sister and I have Lynch Syndrome an inherited cancer syndrome. One of my sister has been spared, thankfully. But we live with the spectre of death, so to speak. Few could understand what it means to look over your shoulder constantly. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
Few could know how each tingle and twinge of pain sends us into a cold sweat. “Is it back?” I hope no one ever has to go through this like us. Incessantly for so many years. But if you do, reach out. Find some friends. Stand strong. Allow anger. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
And last, don’t expect unwavering kindness from the world. As I said few can know what #cancer does to you. And often their patience may run thin. It’s not their fault, just lack of experience. Find your support though. #livingwithcancer #CancerAwareness
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