The cure rates are now high in India. We should fight it out and get on with our lives.

In 2010, at the age of 30, I felt a new taste on my tongue, for a few seconds. Stagnant objects seemed to be moving and unspoken words were heard. In multiple instances over a period of six months, I lost consciousness for a couple of minutes. An electroencephalogram procedure indicated seizures. Linking seizures to stress, the neuro-physician prescribed medicines. An MRI procedure confirmed the presence of a tumour in the brain’s left frontal lobe.

After a surgical procedure called awakened craniotomy, a biopsy indicated anaplastic astrocytoma (Glioma Grade III, cancer). My parents, doctors, relatives and friends were all supportive, and urged a positive approach. They never let me feel lonely or depressed. Slowly I accepted my condition, started worship to strengthen myself, and took up photography as a hobby. One of my seniors at work told me of a colleague who faced a similar condition five years ago and suggested I get in touch with him. A software engineer, I started working full-time after chemotherapy. The encouragement and motivation that I got, brought my pace back, gradually.

During the period of medication, many fellow-patients, regardless of their age and type of cancers, became my motivators. At the hospital, there were a few elders who came alone for radiotherapy. One of them would read newspapers, undergo treatment and get back. Another would watch a cricket match, undergo treatment, and check the score again before returning. There was a lady who came all alone to take her chemotherapy for bone marrow cancer. I wanted to take my illness as a challenge and fight it out just like them.

Now, two years after surgery and a year after chemotherapy, I attend office regularly and cope well with work. Awareness of the World Cancer Day, the Pinkathon event associated more particularly with breast cancer, and the opening of a Conqueror’s Club to support cancer patients at the hospital where I took treatment, helped me come out with my experience. I intend to give my testimony to others diagnosed with cancer.

As a first step, let us stay away from anything that may be carcinogenic. Everyone has the full knowledge that tobacco is a carcinogen, and that passive smoking is injurious to health; people need no further advice on these. Double-check with your physician and confirm whether there is an alternative if any medicine prescribed is being mentioned as a carcinogenic.

Early detection increases the chances of successful treatment. There are screening programmes to identify some forms of cancer. Early detection is possible for cancers affecting the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx and skin.

If you are a cancer patient, have a positive frame of mind. Positive thoughts cure us more than medicines. Our mindset reflects those around us. Decide to be motivators and give the illness a fight. Understand that the medication has improved over the decades and could get us back to normal.

Do not simply believe websites that indicate a short prognosis. Nowadays cancer is not always fatal. At a recent function in the hospital where I underwent treatment, there were ex-patients surviving for more than a decade after treatment. Good treatment is now available in our country too.

Showing pity, seeking to know the reason for the illness and asking for the prognosis, as also too much of encouragement, may make a patient depressed. Citing examples of those cured could help them look forward to normal life. Support, motivation and appreciation of the courage with which they face the situation make them feel proud and face the challenge.

With the hopes that cancer will be eradicated in the coming decades and that right now the cure rates are high, let us fight it out.

a.chitra19@gmail.com

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