Before I started blogging again in January 2017, my last post blog was in January, 2015 and surprisingly the title was “Amazing benefits of frozen foods”. In this blog I had discussed how frozen lemon helps in the cure of cancer cells in our body. Little did I realize that this was one way the nature was transmitting a message to me which perhaps I did not grasp at that time. Now that I sit back and reflect over the events of last 15 months, I wonder how in the world I missed the message.
On a bright, sunny day in February, 2015 I had gone for a day’s trip to New Delhi to wrap up some unfinished business. At around 4 pm I felt a severe headache coupled with a strong feeling of nausea. A couple of days back I had read in some journal that this symptom calls for an immediate visit to the doctor.
I therefore went to see my doctor who, after full physical examination, told me in a very serious tone that my blood pressure was critically high and that I should take the prescribed medication and complete rest. Additionally he advised me to return back to Bangalore immediately and consult the family physician.
Once in Bangalore the next day, I was feeling better and had no nausea or headache. I was only feeling overall weakness in the body. This made me think to take it easy. However my wife called up the doctor in Delhi who strongly advised her not to take the symptoms lightly and to see the doctor without any delay. So I met my doctor who advised a complete checkup, which was done immediately. The result was that my hemoglobin was as low as 7. This count is way too low for a healthy male body. The silver lining was that all these symptoms lead to further investigations. I therefore went through an endoscopy and colonoscopy tests. The results were quite disturbing. It was found that there was a growth in my esophagus near the joint with the stomach known, in medical terms, as GE Junction. Doctors had taken out a sample for biopsy to check if the same was malignant. The result was expected in about four days and these four days were the longest and never ending for me.
The biopsy result came. My wife and I were sitting with my doctor, anxiety written on our faces. The doctor read the report and informed us that unfortunately the growth was malignant and that I must see the surgeon who would decide the future course of action.
That was the moment when both worry and anxiety wrapped me. It is at moments like these that one should keep their calm and not allow these negative feelings to overpower oneself. I had to therefore pull up all my self-confidence together to prepare for future events.
The surgeon met us and explained that while the condition was quite serious it was curable and controllable. That was enough for me to build my confidence and self-esteem. Mentally I had prepared myself in the last four day to be ready to face any and all consequences and fight the disease. There after the surgeon prescribed a number of further tests to zero in on the treatment. We were told that surgery was not an option but it was imminent.
Once all tests were done, my surgeon explained to me that since the size of the tumor was quite big, I will have to undergo at least four rounds of chemotherapy to reduce the size and then go for the surgery. Chemotherapy is quite taxing on the body. In my case each session lasted for around three days (depends on the type of tumor) when bottle after bottle of medication are injected into the body through a chemo port inserted below the skin for the purpose. The port is inserted in the body through a surgery.
Worst are the after effects of Chemo. After each round of chemo, I lost my sense of taste, for example, things will taste sweet and I always complained that there was no salt in the food. I did not feel hungry and was always feeling lethargic and nauseas all the time. As if all these effects were not enough, I lost my hair, became bald and lost my eyebrows and even the hair on my hands and legs. I was using a golf cap all these days to protect myself from cold and heat. These after effects would last for around 10 to 12 days and then it was time again for the next session and the same drill all over.
One more after effect that I had to watch was the sudden fall of white blood cells in the blood count which starts from the 7th day and lasts till the 12th day. This forced me to take weekly blood count to ensure that the white blood cells count was in the normal range. If it falls below than one must take a course of three injections which stimulates the bone marrow for production of white blood cells. The aftereffects of this injection are quite painful. I had to take this injection once and after which I could not get up from the bed due to body pain.
Having completed 4 sessions of chemo therapy, I had to undergo further tests to determine the size of the tumor. These scans also tell you if the medication was having the desired results. I was lucky as after the scan, the radiologist told my wife that the tumor had practically vanished from the body. Armed with this positive report, I once again met my surgeon for his advice. “Good, so you are now ready for the surgery” was his announcement. He was very clear that with the tumors tissues in the body one cannot take chances. It disappears temporarily but attacks back with a vengeance. So “surgery was not an option”, I remembered the surgeon telling me during our first meeting.
The doctors explained the total process to me and my wife as there has to be a gap of four weeks between the chemo and surgery. We fixed the earliest date that was available and took the surgery. It was a long procedure of six and a half hours. They removed my esophagus and 50% of the stomach, pulled the remaining stomach and joined it with the neck. I was in the intensive care for over four days with tubes coming out of my body from everywhere and was on a ventilator. The ventilator was removed after 36 hours of the surgery.
I was in the hospital for fifteen days or so after the surgery before being discharged.
After almost a month of the surgery, I had to take the balance two sessions of chemo therapy and then again undergo a Pet-CT scan to see the post-surgery state of the body. Thank god, it all came normal.
Post-surgery, I had lost almost 15 kilos weight and 8 inches of my waist. On the positive side, I have grown back all my hair and had my first haircut after almost 14 months.
Today as I look back on the those past months, I can only say God is great. I had successfully won over a dreaded disease. It was possible only due to an unshakable faith I had in God, myself and the support of my family, positive thinking and a fighting attitude. I have also learnt that one should not ignore even the smallest symptom when it comes to health and well-being. Have faith in yourself and never think negative.
I am sharing my experience in the hope that even if it motivates one individual; I would have succeeded in my mission.
Never lose hope. Winners never do!
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