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PATIENT/CAREGIVER CORNER
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 500-502

The “CANCER” (Shush! Don't use the word) Chronicles


Date of Submission04-Jul-2021
Date of Decision30-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance01-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication08-Oct-2021

Correspondence Address:
Sanjyot Parasnis


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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_154_21

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How to cite this article:
Parasnis S. The “CANCER” (Shush! Don't use the word) Chronicles. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:500-2

How to cite this URL:
Parasnis S. The “CANCER” (Shush! Don't use the word) Chronicles. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 9];4:500-2. Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2021/4/3/500/327762




  Getting Through! Top


How do you get through life with a smile on your face when you keep getting hit, blow after blow? How do you keep picking yourself up after getting knocked off your feet? I suspect the answer to this is different for each individual, but I would like to share my experiences and how I dealt with my circumstances, for the last 3 years have been insanely tough on me and my family, so much so that I felt like all the bad luck in the universe was raining down on me.

We normally live in Seattle, U.S.A., but we have been in India for a couple of years for work. I have been extremely fatigued for the past few days and am bleeding profusely. It could be because of all the stress from the packing and moving, three back-to-back in vitro fertilization cycles, which still feel like yesterday, a miscarriage, grieving Sunshine (our Golden Retriever), even though it has been 4 years since we lost her, and Thunder's (our Belgian sheepdog) declining health. “That's okay,” I think. “I will see the doctor soon. But, right now, my Thunder needs me.” Thunder seems overly excited to be in India, what with all those “interesting” smells around! But soon, he falls sick and has to undergo a couple of surgeries, and suddenly, he is paralyzed. He needs help to eat, drink, and do his business. He needs his dressings changed, his stitches kept clean, and timely medication. “It's okay,” I think. “I just need to be strong. I can take pain killers for now, and I will see a doctor soon.” I prioritize Thunder. What gives me strength is that at least we are all together. We have managed to make the journey across the seas safely with Thunder, as his age. We can get through this. My husband, Rahul, is extremely stressed. He is in the middle of some major changes at work, as they are expanding the business. It is a customer-facing product, and one bad season could tank the business. Amidst all this, Rahul has to be there for Thunder as he needs to be carried outside and held up to be able to do his business. “That's alright,” I think. “I can look after Thunder while Rahul is at work. I will rest soon, once Thunder is better. I know he can do it. Thunder is a survivor. He's my baby after all!” People advise us to put Thunder down. The vets say he will never walk again, but the way I see it, Thunder just needs swimming and physiotherapy. Once again, I think, “That's okay. We can rest when Thunder walks again.” I can see in his eyes that he wants to live. He is not giving up, so I am not going to give up on him either. It worked! Thunder walked again! He needs support, but he can walk! We are exhausted though. I am bleeding too much and am low on hemoglobin. I need a blood transfusion. However, this is a temporary fix. What is wrong with me? What is this fatigue? Why am I not able to walk 10 steps without panting? They said it is the fibroids and that the bleeding will stop once they have been removed and I will be all better. Me: “Should we do a biopsy before the surgery?” Doctor: “No, there is no need. We are removing the fibroids anyway. We will send the sample for examination after surgery, as this after the removal, as that is the standard procedure.” Layman me trusted this. I have my first surgery. They morcellate the fibroids and send the samples for examination. But why is it taking so long for the results? Finally, they tell me it is not a fibroid at all. It is cancer that mimics a fibroid. It is aggressive, persistent, and has spread through my blood vessels to the rest of my body, including the vital organs. Once the initial shock wears off, we spring into action – phone calls are made, referrals, contacts, research, friends, and family trying to help any way they can. People wonder if I am going to take any action against the doctor. However, I cannot be wasting my energy and resources on all that now. I have to be forward facing. Hence, I decide to concentrate on the hope and draw from all the love that is pouring in from friends and family. Besides, the full implications of my diagnosis have not really sunk in yet. I have CANCER! It is the bad kind, and also, incredibly rare; so, it makes sense that I should get it. After all, Murphy fashioned his law after me. That's okay, I am determined to prove Murphy wrong. There is much discussion about what protocols to follow, which poisons to use, should chemotherapy follow the radiation or the other way around? This cancer is so rare that there are not enough studies and no set protocols. Finally, they decide to do the radiation first, followed by intensive chemotherapy. But first, I have to undergo the urgent second surgery. My incision starts above the navel and goes the way down. They remove everything – the uterus, ovaries, tubes, surrounding tissue, some nodes as well as my omentum. “That's alright,” I think. “They are doing all they can. They are trying to save me. I am surrounded by love and well wishes. All I need to do is be a good patient. I can take the pain. I can help them along. I will fight this. My husband, my mother, and my Thunder are waiting for me.” The surgery is done. All the tragicomedies that followed with the hospital screw-ups belong in a sitcom! But I get through the hurdles. If I can fight cancer, what are a few mishaps along the way? They cannot keep me down. Soon they start the radiation. It is going to take commitment, as I am not allowed to miss a single session for 25 days straight. Intense! So, guess what? I catch swine flu. LOL! Yup, because of the low immunity and all that. So now I have to travel for 1–2 h (depending on Bangalore traffic) braving my high fever. Then there is an hour-long water protocol at the hospital to prepare for the radiation. But first, I have to wait in a queue for my turn. Then I travel back another 1.5–2 h (evening peak hour traffic) to get back home before I can get into bed. “It's alright,” I think. “I have already been through so much; this is nothing in comparison. I can do it.” My mom feeds me with so much love when I get home. I look forward to those meals as my reward for getting through the long day. Two of my aunts come all the way from Pune to help me through this difficult time. There is so much love waiting for me at home. Somehow, I get through the radiation. Now, I have a short break before my chemotherapy. YAY! I am so happy to be at home – drinking coconut water all the time, with people making me fresh food and doting on me. I could not have asked for more. I decide to use this break to get strong and prepare for the upcoming chemotherapy. They did say that they were going to max out the dosage. Each cycle would last for 3 days, 15 h/day. I was told that I had to make sure to drink 4 liters of water each day, else my organs would suffer. I was told that I should also expect to lose all my hair. My scalp would hurt when that started. I think, why wait for the scalp to hurt? I would rather save the pain for other things. Hence, I get rid of my hair before I check into the hospital. My husband and I spent the night at the Leela's. We ate good food and drank good wine. I wore my new silver earrings and looked pretty, even without the hair. Early the next morning, my chemotherapy was here. They would stop chemotherapy once every 4 h for an injection without which my kidneys would fail. This injection could not be even 10 min late. The nurses would often forget about it, so I had to set the alarms myself and be after them. Rahul would call from work for the same, but sometimes, he could not get out of meetings. Weakened state or not, I could not afford to take it easy. “That's okay,” I think. “I can do this. I just have to set the alarms and start making noise. I will whoop their behinds if they delay my injection! I'm a lioness!” I was always flaunting my baldness and making jokes about my husband's long hair. “What's yours is mine,” I tell him as I wrap his long hair around my head. I even make up a funny song about it, to the tune of Sinead O' Connor's, “Nothing compares to you.” Except, mine is called, “Nothing compares to hairdos!” My husband then suggests that I make a video on it. So, I get busy right away! We do this project together and have a lot of fun doing it. It keeps me distracted through my chemotherapy. Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v = cfNkYVC83BI. The chemotherapy is finally over. There were many ups and downs, but I get through it. I am very proud of myself. Now for the healing. But why should that be easy? The radiation and chemotherapy gave me fissures. I have never known such pain in my life! I could not bear to sit, and I could not bear to lie down. I get chemo brain and my mind is in a fog, which I cannot describe! It was bad enough for me to consider stopping chemo midway! “But that's okay. It's supposed to be temporary most of the times. I should get better with time. Of course, I will.” I decide to be open about my journey. I am fierce like that! I want to show other patients with cancer and survivors that they do not have to suffer alone. I got a lot of love and support from my friends and family. I feel incredibly lucky to have had that. I even made new friends through this journey. Furthermore, cancer is not something to be ashamed of. When life deals us a hand, we play it the best we can. To combat the morcellation error made by the previous surgeon, my doctors threw the book at my cancer. It seems to have worked. So far, my scans are clear. I do have lingering side effects from the harsh treatments, but I got to live; so, it was a fair exchange, I say! Rahul uses my medical borderline disasters as fodder for his Facebook posts. I laugh on reading them, because, the alternative is to cry.

I think he knows this!

Hence, the next time life gets you down, just tell yourself, “It's okay!” Find a reason to look forward and then simply power through. Prioritize yourself, not others. To be able to help your loved ones, you need to be healthy and happy in body and mind.

Today, I have some guidelines by which I want to live my life:

  • Always look at the glass half full. It helps tremendously to get through difficult situations.
  • Get rid of negative influences in life – be it people, things, or situations. It's not worth it.
  • Do not hoard emotionally. You must let things go. Treat it like sunk cost. Face forward.


No matter what the future has in store for me, I know that I will be alright. I have fire in my belly, and I will not go down without a fight. I will deal with it when I have to. For now, what I know for sure is that there are many laughs in my future. I want to see the world with my husband, do art projects with my mom, do silly things with friends, and have more beautiful furry babies! Did I mention that I am a foodie? Yes, that too.


  Life is Beautiful! Top


I would be remiss not to thank some special people who came through for me on a personal level in spite of their extremely busy schedules, when I needed them the most – Bijoy Sagar (my college friend who is a bigwig in a Pharmaceutical company now).

Dr. Vanita Noronha (my college friend who is an oncologist now).

Sangeeta Parasnis (my aunt who came to Bangalore all the way from Pune to help me) and her family for doing without her while she was with me.

Rani Parasnis (my aunt who came all the way to Bangalore from Pune to help me).

Wg/Cdr Ravindra Parasnis (my dad) and last but not the least, Surekha (my mom) and Rahul Chandran (my husband).

Love you! I would also like to thank Dr. Somashekar SP (my surgical oncologist), Dr. Amit Rauthan (my medical oncologist) and Dr. Vadhiraja BM (my radiation oncologist).

THANK YOU doctors, for saving my life! I knew from the moment we met that I was in expert hands. I was lucky indeed to have found you.

About the author:

Hello, I'm Sanjyot. I'm middle aged, but I still feel young.

I love all things creative, but I'm particularly passionate about cooking and dancing. I love being surrounded by nature, and I believe in animal rights. I was born and brought up in Bombay of which I have fond memories. I also love Pune. Seattle is home though. I have a degree in English literature from Fergusson College, Pune. I was more than halfway through a degree in Interior Design at Design Institute of San Diego when the economy crashed, and we moved. I never completed the degree, but I'm having a great time doing up my new house. I'm very good at it even if I say so myself! I love hanging out with friends, playing poker and other strategic board games. But I love spending time with my husband the most. He is always cracking me up with laughter. We love binge watching shows together. We like to travel and to explore different cuisines. My world is made up of my husband, Rahul, my mother Surekha and I should also mention my Thunder and Sunshine (Belgian Sheepdog and Golden Retriever) who are always with me even though they have departed this world. We hope to have more furry babies when we feel ready.

I'm fiercely loyal. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I think with my heart rather than my head; so practical, I'm not. I like to think that I have a good moral compass. I have firm beliefs and values and I will debate over issues for hours but I'm accepting of others' differing opinions for I staunchly believe in “To each, his own.” If we just live and let live, we would have world peace today. Hence, here's hoping to see a more tolerant and civilized society in my lifetime, CHEERS!






 

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