Monday, 17 June 2013

How it all started.

 In October 2012, I underwent hysterectomy operation.I was on medical leave and recovering at home.As all my life I have been a busy working mom, I could never enjoy sitting in my lovely garden in the mornings. I also missed out having breakfasts with my family. This was the time I got to stay at home the longest. During my recovery phase , only my husband was with me. My children were all abroad.

I started to have breakfast with my husband. While on the table, I noticed my husband  choked  on his food suddenly. He quickly gulped water and started to eat again.It is a sad story that out different work timings didn't allow us to have meals together mostly. My helper who would cook food and serve him reported that my husband was facing this problem since 3-4 months. 

It was 1st January 2013. I cajoled my husband to visit a gastroenterologist. He was reluctant first , he didn't want to start his New Year visiting a Doctor. Well, we finally agreed and he underwent an endoscopy after a clinical examination. His reports indicated Carcinoma Esophagus.

Back home, I skyped my children. It was a very difficult moment for me to tell them about their father's health. We all cried but promised to keep a brave front for Dad. We knew we have to face this situation bravely and also act promptly, no time had to be wasted.

We were all by ourselves in India at that time.We started to explore good Cancer Hospitals.We have relatives in New Delhi and found out Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.. It was solely dedicated to treatment of Cancer patients.We were lucky to get an appointment.

The hard fact of life is everything comes with a price. Cancer not only attacks your immune system but it also gives you a huge financial bolt. We prepared ourselves mentally and financially as well. Its the point of our lives that we greatly  realized a penny saved is a penny earned. Cancer treatment involves a lot of money.

We reached the hospital. and met the Doctors.They carried out few other  investigations. The hospital staff right from the Junior most to the Senior most were  extremely helpful and kind.I could see God helping me  in  the form of human being .My husband's date of surgery was finalized. My son landed in India and reached straight to the hospital. By that time, my husband was already in the Operation Theater. It was about an 8-10 hours surgery.By God's grace his surgery was successful.

My husband was retained in the hospital for about 12 days. By that time , my youngest daughter had arrived. It was during that time we went for a screening exam. On the day of my husband's discharge, my mammography reports were announced.

Life throws many challenges at you, mostly at the most unexpected times. Do not fear them. Face them, Pursue them and Win over them, God is there, if he has given you troubles, he surely has a solution for them.

The Bhagavad Gita sums it up, 
'Whatever happened, it happened for good. 

Whatever is happening, is happening for good. 
Whatever that will happen, it will be for good. '

           Last year, July 2012, Mussoorie.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Home is where the heart is.

I grew up in Deolali and my house was surrounded with greenery . I used to play in the orchards, climbing trees and I could stay for hours enjoying nature.I have always loved nature.My moment of happiness arrived when after my second chemo we  returned home- Dehradun.

 I was  back in my house after 4-5 months in Delhi,. I was soo relieved .I thanked God for bringing me back home. I have always taken care of my garden and we have many fruit trees and  flowers .

After a long time  I would wake up to see the green view of my garden. It appeased my  body,mind and soul.

Doon has a very pleasant weather. I would stroll in my garden and when the leaves would rustle on breezy evenings , I felt they are divine messengers of God encouraging me to go on in life. Life is a priceless gift. I could feel God's presence in every plant, flower and air.
Even in these challenging times,I felt God's  presence all the time.I felt he is purifying me.If you listen to Him and follow Him, he will help you to overcome every obstacle.
I have actually never been this free .Its been a blessing in disguise. I spend more time with family and am able to spend more time in mu garden, reliving my childhood memories of Deolali once again.

As life changed so did my looks. After my second chemo I lost all my hair. It did not hurt me rather I started to look smarter.I confidently walked around in my bald look.At the hospital, there is a cancer help center and they suggested ti me I could wear a wig.Earlier I denied, but then I realized I could be running short on my Medical Leaves. I had to join back work.So I decided to wear the wig just to work.

I drove myself independently to my office. My administrative staff  is  very understanding. I sit there only for 2 hours. People welcomed me warmly. Since not many people  knew of  my ailment, they felt I was back after my hysterectomy. Many complimented me for my new hairstyle.Getting back to work gives me a sense of normalcy.I have many staff in my Department, I just sit there and do little work. Second, most importantly I save on my leaves and make my salary. Cancer treatment involves a lot of money.Do not feel helpless once diagnosed with cancer.. You are still capable and able of taking charge of your own life.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Food and Nutrition

  Today, I would like to share my experience post chemo cycles.

 As you know I resume with my cycles in every 21 days, the very first week after chemo is the one I find the most difficult to bear.I lose appetite and at times feel nausea tic. My doctor has prescribed me medications for the same but since I am also a GERD patient, its an aggravated response. I would like to share the diet  I follow, its a diet I have designed as per my body needs. You may have a similar problem , always discuss it with your doctor and dietitian and  plan accordingly.

 About an year ago, prior to my treatment, I had developed strong aversion to smell or odor . My husband couldn't spray his favorite perfume while we attended weddings . I also couldn't bear the smell of food cooking in the kitchen. I would close my kitchen door while my help would prepare meals.
I was firm to keep my hemoglobin and platelets count adequate. I did not want to miss any of chemotherapy cycles as per scheduled.. I had to take charge of my body .In spite all difficulties, I made up my mind to eat well.
Mornings Breakfast-
1 cup of milk with protein supplement as prescribed.Semolina ( Sooji) pancakes/Puffed rice/mixed vegetables prepared in salt and water only, /sprouts of green gram and chickpeas/ idlis
Plenty of water, coconut water.Soups

Boiled rice and 1 bowl of lentils , 1 bowl of green vegetable,1 glass of buttermilk

Since fruits were barred, I  boil apples and eat. Soups  again in the evening.At  times I boil banana in milk, it tatstes yummy.

Sand which/ vegetable- 1 bowl

My family ensures I eat on time. I do not find taste in food but I do not fuss. I eat to live. I would like to encourage people fighting cancer to eat. Its an important aspect of getting cured. If we co operate, it will also lessen our family's stress. If we stay positive and work towards our health, it re affirms our faith and hope. We need to create strong positive vibrations around us . Be brave and be positive.

I am aware my body is prone to infection. I avoid going to crowded places. I do not allow any visitor to meet me directly.They are  first requested to remove their shoes and wash their hands . I have even  requested my close relatives to meet me once my entire treatment is finished. Thankfully, they all have been very understanding.

Interacting with people becomes exhaustive and tiring now. They en quire about my health over the phone or through mails. I have finished with my 5th cycle but I have refrained myself  from meeting even my own sisters. I love them a lot and I know they are thoroughly concerned about my health and well being. They have been the most understanding at this time. We yearn to see each other but we have to wait.

 For now, my world is only my children and my husband.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Heal and Deal!

It took almost a month's time for my operated site to heal.The drains were off and the sutures were removed. As a common complication after MRM surgery, I had seroma accumulation at my operated site.The doctors advised me few exercises and I gradually got rid of that as well. 

While I was in the hospital for my regular OPD, I interacted with fellow breast cancer fighters/survivors. Few complained of frozen shoulder and edema in hand and arms. They had to design their blouses accordingly. I was very cautious and discussed it with my doctors. One thing I follow and would advise every patient is to be proactive. Never feel shy in discussing even the slightest query with your doctor.I understand there is a lot of information Mr. Google can shed but do not rely on it completely.I have been doing regular exercises to avoid edema and frozen shoulder.I am also a GERD patient and despite of all the discomfort I never delay my exercises. I wear a compression stocking as prescribed by the doctor.Regular walks are a part of my routine.

 My doctors discussed my treatment plan with me. They very well explained me the pros and cons of the protocol.The plan is designed to give me six cycles of chemotherapy after every 21 days.Radiation is also in the list after I finish with my sixth cycle.During the course of the therapy I am barred to have any raw food. Since chemo and radiation will also target my healthy cells, my immunity is lowered.I have o be extremely cautious of my nutrition and prevent any kind of infection as my body is now vulnerable.

 Before my first cycle I prepared my body to beat all odds. I used to stroll slowly but I would complete my goal of one hour.I maintained my diet.My family and friends have taken utmost care of my diet .They ensured I ate timely and my diet was full of juices , soups and greens.They always encouraged me and motivated me. 

We would read a chapter everyday on Positivity and Optimism.My daughters would join me and we would watch health programs.In the mornings the three of us would do breathing exercises and Pranayam. This helped them as well.It reduced our stress levels and refreshed our mind and soul. My children never expressed any stress or tension , but a mother is a mother. I ensured they are eating well and also have some recreational activity.Throughout this journey my three angels are totally devoted to us and it is their love which encourages me everyday. 

 My first chemo day arrived.I was taken in a minor operation theater, where the doctors inserted a chemoport on my chest on the left side.It was an hour's procedure performed under local anesthesia. I was to avoid sleeping on my left side. I already couldn't do on my right.I somehow manage that by placing pillows and cushions on my sides.I was scheduled to be admitted in the hospital only for two days. I was given a combination of cytotoxic drugs, Fluracil being the main drug.

 In about 2 hours my therapy was over. I felt fine. I did as my doctors had advised. I had plenty of fluids and rinsed my mouth regularly with mouthwash( to prevent mucositis). All went well until in the evening I had severe nausea and vomiting.I was kept in the hospital for further two days on i.v. medicines and fluids. I knew my GERD problem flared up due to chemo. I was scared of this experience.I had five more to go in the following months.The doctors planned to give me a strong anti emetic injection prior to my next chemo. 

Well, I was more than happy when I was discharged.I was with my family again. I had the will power to fight on. As Richard E. Grant said, 'Never give up. You only get one life. Go for it!'

Monday, 3 June 2013

Thank you all for your love.I hope my story motivates you all.Heed to your body symptoms. Act in time. You are the master of your body. Take responsibility.

 So what comes after operation? You may think complete bed rest. Partly true.My motto was to take cancer as any other disease.I was still capable .I bathed myself taking care of my sutures.My daughter insisted to measure the drainage tube fluid,I felt my little girl would have to go through unnecessary trouble u,I would hold them and measure myself.

The love for my family pushed me forward.I am determined to cure myself so I can look after my family like before. The docs advised me not to work with my right hand for a month, so what ,my left was good.I was thrilled to prepare early morning tea for my husband! I had lost my appetite, yet I forced myself to eat greens and soups.My daughter would hold my tubes and we would walk .we as a family grew closer.

 When people,neighbors come to know that so and so got diagnosed with cancer,they think its the end of the world.It is not.I behave like a normal individual, dress nicely, look after myself. I never wanted people to look at me and say oh she's a cancer patient.

 I went for my review in a week,I counseled women in the waiting area about breast examination. once you forty its important you get a mammography done.Breast cancer has a good prognosis.along with science, you can heal yourself with positive attitude.

Think you are healing and you are healed.I t is a test of God. Pray to Almighty along with medical treatment and one day you will be cancer free.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

 The cold winters of Doon never deterred my spirit to water my lush green garden and the beautiful roses,daisies and lilies adorning my sidewalk.I have always been a busy person as my children would put it, but I feel I am an active person who believes in making  the most of her time, utilize your energy and time in doing and giving the best you can.I meditate regularly, its my  biggest asset.Meditation has played a pivotal role in my life.I have three grown up children and a wonderful supportive husband.I am a Physiotherapist for the last 25 years. This is my story of Change, acceptance and will power.

 My 27 yrs old daughter and I went in for a  routine screening breast examination. A mammography followed and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer . This was the beginning of Change. I took things in my stride and quickly went to get the rest of my investigations done.The doctor who saw my report asked me to get admitted the next day itself.The acceptance of my Cancer was prompt.I did not think much.I work only with my spiritual strength.

As I laid on my operation theater, I said, ' God, its not my body , its your body, this operation is performed on you not me'.My team of Doctors were god sent.After 2 hours, my doctor patted my cheek and said,'Lajja ,wake up'. I was suprised, I thought the operation was yet to begin, as my surgeon smiled at me and said, the procedure(  modified radical mastectomy) was successful. My entire breast ,right side was removed along with the lymph nodes. I was shifted in the ICU for one day.

The next day , I was discharged home. Two tubes running down from my right side for drainage, I came home.I thanked God for giving me the strength and support. I thanked him for strengthening the bond in  my family, for all the love , care and compassion. We are together in this battle.We are one again.