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After fighting cancer, Vivek on a mission

HE LOVED to talk endlessly. He realised the beauty of speech after being detected with vocal chord cancer 12 years ago. Today he is on a mission - to highlight the pernicious affect of tobacco.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 14:43 IST

HE LOVED to talk endlessly. He realised the beauty of speech after being detected with vocal chord cancer 12 years ago. Today he is on a mission - to highlight the pernicious affect of tobacco.

Vivek Hirde, like others of his age was stung by the tobacco fever at 21.  “I started smoking as a societal fad but gradually the habit seeped into me and I became a chain smoker. I was not oblivious to the toxins I was inhaling. But it was simply irresistible.”

Vivek was 29 when his voice petered out. “I just could not understand where my voice had dissipated. Initially, I neglected it but when my voice did not return, I consulted a doctor and the verdict was clear. I had cancer of vocal chord,” he recalls.

“At that point I did not know who to curse, myself or the nicotine that had piled up in my body. Anyway, once I got over the depressive phase, I moved on to battle the disease. I had invited the disease and I was determined to weather the vicissitude,” he says.

That was in 1993. Thirteen years hence, Vivek moves on minus one vocal chord and exalts, “I recently celebrated my 12th birthday after detection of cancer.”

Post operative after his recovery, the first thing Vivek did was to form a Cancer Club which has around 5,000 members  across the country of which more than 3,000 are cancer patients. “We organise get together for cancer fighters, take out rallies and conduct mass awareness campaigns against tobacco.”

On what changes he perceived within himself after battling the disease. “Every bitter experience ends on a positive note. When I realised that I had cancer, I prayed to God to lessen my longevity but not my ability to talk. Today, I can talk but with some punctuations. The disease has, however, spiraled my will power and determination,” says Vivek.

“I have two main objectives in life - to make people realise the pernicious affect of tobacco and secondly to filter the notion that cancer is curable,” he adds.

Vivek, an assistant registrar with the Madhya Pradesh Government  has written two books on cancer. Even as Vivek has successfully trampled his disease there are many who are not so fortunate. According to surveys  Bhopal has a very high incidence  of oral cancer, most of which are tobacco related.

Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital Director Dr KV Pandya says, “Besides cancer, tobacco can trigger high blood pressure, heart problems, paralysis, kidney and liver abnormalities.”

The Tobacco Cessation Clinic at the hospital, one of the 11 such clinics established in the country has been actively carrying out diversion therapies, psychotherapy and drug therapy for tobaccoholics.

Dental College, Indore Principal Dr B M Srivastava who has done extensive research on the link between tobacco and cancer says, “This problem cannot be erased in a small time frame. It is pertinent that tobacco has today become socially deglamorised.”