World Cancer Day 2018: An ode to the brave hearts and their spirit
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World Cancer Day 2018: An ode to the brave hearts and their spirit

On World Cancer Day, cancer survivors and their family members share their tale of triumph, and a message of hope to all those suffering from the disease.

delhi Updated: Feb 05, 2018 14:07 IST
Abhinav Verma
Abhinav Verma
Hindustan Times
World Cancer Day,Rina Dhaka,Cancer
Agnivesh Karmakar, who is 4 years old, bravely fought leukaemia for two years. He is now on the road to recovery. He and his parents Barna (mother) and Uttam Karmakar ( father) along with his doctor- Dr. Prachi Jain, consultant, pediatric oncology hematology BMT at Max super speciality Patparganj, are a symbol of perseverance and never giving up.(Jasjeet Plaha/ Hindustan Times)

It’s only when the going gets tough, your patience, your strength, and your willpower is tested. It’s during testing circumstances you get to know what you are made of. And this is certainly the case with cancer patients and their families. With approximately 10 lakh new cases detected every year in India, cancer, certainly pushes the individual and their family, to the limit. Therefore, on World Cancer Day, people who have survived cancer and their family members recall how they resiliently battled and beat the disease.

Those who survived

You got to keep going, with a smile

Usha Agarwal, a 73-year-old housewife, was diagnosed with chest and uterine cancer in 2015. Usha had two back-to-back operations for the treatment, and she refused chemotherapy. After the surgery, cancer had subsided. However, the joy was short-lived as after one and a half years, cancer came back. “This time, the doctors said that there was no chance, and said that I’ve got only three months to live. When he said that my children started crying, and that broke my heart. I took a deep breath and said ‘You are not God’, I will not go right now,” she said in a determined voice. After that, she started chemotherapy. Now, the cancer is gone, but she still is under medication. “My message to people on World Cancer Day is that if there is a beginning then, there is an end, we all have to go someday. The only thing you can do is do justice to your life and live to the fullest. Keep yourself occupied,” says Usha. Over the past few years, this young at heart braveheart has learnt to play the sitar.

Family is everything

Abhijit Dasgupta, 63, was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 1997. The disease put him and his family in a tight spot. “My kids were young, and my wife and I were determined to secure a happy future for our family”, says Abhijit. The determination to secure a stable future for his family meant Abhijit did not give up hope. “We met a few doctors who didn’t give us hope but we still kept going, we kept trying to find someone who wanted to try as much as we did. The treatment was not easy, and I knew that I would never be same,” recalls Abhijit. On World Cancer Day, his message to everyone is that family is everything, without their unconditional love and support, nothing is impossible. “My family gave me the determination to continue. Those moments of laughter and making light of the situation helped me the most”, says Abhijit.

Those who are battling it

Getting the right doctor is imperative

Vinita Thukral, a 38-year-old Hindi school teacher, got to know that she had uterine cancer in August, last year. Initially, she thought everything is lost. However, she says that she was lucky as the doctors treating her were kind and made sure that she never felt as if there was no chance. “Getting the right kind of doctor is imperative for recovery. A good doctor can raise your spirits as they can become your source of strength”, says Vinita. After getting diagnosed, she got operated, and now her chemotherapy is coming to an end. Her message on World Cancer Day is that one should never stop smiling, no matter how painful it gets. “It’s easier for you to deal with the pain when you are smiling. Also, your family members suffer along with you. A smile makes it easier for them to support you”, says Vinita.

Self motivation is the best motivation

Rajkumari Gupta, a 66-year-old housewife, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November, last year. When she first got to know that she has breast cancer,her world was knocked upside down. “I was blank, I thought why would it happen to someone who eats right, who does yoga.... why of all the people, me?,” recalls Rajkumari. However, she didn’t let the initial shock affect her willpower. With the support of her wonderful children, she sailed through her operation, and now is regularly going for her chemotherapy. “You can’t let cancer stop you from doing the things you do daily. You have to continue with your routine as it’s normal,” says Rajkumari. Her message on World Cancer Day, “Self-motivation is the best motivation. There’s no other way around it”, states Rajkumari.

You have to persevere through

Fashion designer Rina Dhaka was stunned to find that she had cancer. She was diagnosed on November 8, 2016. “For someone who had no history of illness, it was a shock that I cannot explain. It was surreal, and the irony was that my tendency to overwork drove me to cancer,” says Rina. Initially, she battled thoughts of self-pity and anxiety, but she overcame those feelings through chanting regularly. “I try to chant, I even refuse suggestions to take a sleeping pill by the doctor,” says Rina. And today on World Cancer Day, here’s what she has to say: “I am grateful to my husband, my sister and my surgeon. One has to be resilient. Chant and pray for yourself and your loved ones,”.

How cancer takes a toll on the entire family

You have to be the pillar of strength on which your loved ones rely on

Abha Changmai, a 24-year-old, who works for an MNC, was in for a rude shock when her mother, Padumi Dutta Changmai, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. “When we got to know that our mother has cancer, it hit us like a hurricane. And on top of it all, the doctors were quite casual about it, which made the situation worse,” says Abha. The doctors gave her mother a two-year timeline. “We were emotionally challenged. My brother and I went through depression, but we’ve battled through it,” says Abha. Her message on World Cancer Day: “You need to have the right attitude. And you need to remember that you are a source of strength for your loved one, you have to be strong for them to be able to rely on you,” says Abha.

You have to be there for them in totality

When 55-year-old Vanita Sharma got to know that her husband Rajivv has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, it was like an earthquake that turned their lives upside down. Rajivv was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on October 14, last year. And on his 60th birthday, he started his chemotherapy. “Your existence comes to halt, the way you define life, changes,” says Vanita, adding “and when this happens then the only thing you can do is be there for your loved”. Her message today is that, “Never underestimate the power of a prayer. Also, you need your family and friends to rally around you,” she says.

Spreading joy for a cause

Workers making wigs for cancer patients, who have lost hair due to their treatment. (Jasjeet Plaha/Hindustan Times)

Major Gulshan Ravi Kaushik started his venture Marchers International Pvt Ltd, a hair transplantation clinic that specialises in hair replacements for cancer patients 26 years ago. The 62-year-old retired Major says, “We started this because there was a need for specialised hair replacements for cancer patients in the market. We realised that when patients lose their hair because of chemotherapy, they also tend to lose their confidence. And we thought that if by providing hair wigs to the patients, we could help them regain their confidence, then why not?” Each wig is customised as per the patient. The process involves taking the mould of the head and using it as a thin filament. The hair comes from the famous temple of Tirupati Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh, where a lot of devotees go to donate their hair.

Expert Opinion

Cancer is the most curable chronic disease, when detected early. On World Cancer Day, let us be aware about it and join hands to eradicate this disease.

- Dr. Leena Dadhwal, consultant, surgical oncology, RGCIRC, Niti Bagh

Having cancer is not the end of the road, rather a beginning to embrace the pain it takes to fight back. On World Cancer Day, let’s pledge to quit smoking, drinking and go for early and timely screenings for effective management of the disease.

-Dr. Professor P.K Julka, Sr. director Max Daycare Centre, Lajpat Nagar

First Published: Feb 03, 2018 18:32 IST