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Friday, April 1, 2016

Breast Cancer Survivor

My wife is cancer survivor and the fight against the dreaded disease needed the moral support, love and positive feelings from all members of the family and friends and as I recollect each person gave just that to my wife. I know that writing about cancer is nothing new but then I wanted to pen this on my blog as most of my blogs are personal in nature. Here is my recount of the entire episode

The earth just opened up beneath my legs of 30th July 2015 when I got the report of my wife’s biopsy on my mail confirming metastatic carcinoma in left breast. For a moment everything came to a standstill and I was wondering as to how I am going to convey this message to my wife …… suddenly shrill ringing of my mobile jolts me out of my thoughts and it is my wife call from India to inform me that she has also seen the report online and was inconsolable.  It had been just three months since I had taken up a new assignment in Middle East and with this news I had planned to resign the next day and head back to Chennai so that I could be around the family during this difficult period and also while the treatment is being done. My company’s management was particularly very nice and they said that I could just go back and take care of my wife without having to resign from services… My CEO stated that I could travel for few days every couple of months just to oversee the division and the running projects. Quite thankful to them for this gesture as I did not have additional stress of looking out for a job once the treatment gets over.

Initial finding of metastatic cancer was a bit scary metastatic means that the cancer cells have started spreading to other parts of body….. in other words as per the definition it means 4th stage of cancer. This finding was a shock to both me and my wife since a biopsy was conducted on the same lump just few months back while my wife underwent treatment for her knee in a reputed hospital. In fact had my wife not had any pains she would not have bothered to undergo a mammogram on her own in July 2015 and during this procedure the doctor in a leading diagnostic center again gave a clean chit on the mammogram but wanted us to take a FNAC (Fine Needle Aspiration) for getting a biopsy of the tissue and my wife undertook the same… and the report of this FNAC was the one that was sent by mail to me. The diagnostic center then corrected the mammogram report given couple of days back to indicate metastatic carcinoma. My wife was fuming and wanted to complain to the consumer court for a immense lapse by the diagnostic enter but then unfortunately they had collect back the first report back from my wife and we had no proof of wrong diagnosis. Well if my wife had not got herself tested it would have been even worse for the cancer cells would have attacked the vital organs and the survival chances would have been greatly reduced.

 My siblings (both my sisters) took my wife to cancer specialist for consultation on the same day the report was received as I was not around and the doctors explained the situation to my wife, daughters and my sisters and even counseled my wife as she was worried for her life. The PET scan conducted by the doctors to check on the spread of cancer downgraded the threat to stage 2B since the cancer had spread only to the left axilla and had not affected any vital organs. A huge sigh of relief amongst us since the doctors stated that the present condition is curable and the treatment would consist of Chemotherapy, Surgery and finally Radiation therapy.

Both my daughters were very brave compared to me and my wife, they used to say “Don’t worry appa we will defeat the disease “. Their positivity brushed on to my wife who now put up a brave face as she also started believing that she can be cured. This in turn was a great help going forward with the chemotherapy treatment which was started on 5th Aug 2015. Both my sisters were along with me and my wife for all trips to the hospital whether it was to meet the doctors or go for the treatment and this indeed was a great moral support & mental relief to me and my wife.

The treatment was 8 sittings of chemotherapy with a gap of 21 days between each sitting. Within days of the first Chemo, my wife’s hair started falling and in matter of 3-4 days she became almost bald and it is quite tough for all of us to console my wife for having lost her hair. Her cousin, to pacify my wife arranged for a wig but she hardly wore it as it was pretty uncomfortable. Entire cycle of chemo was completed in about 6 months’ time and after that even the mastectomy surgery has been completed. Radiation therapy is pending and is expected to take place from the coming week for 5 weeks.

Positive thoughts, feelings  and moral support is a must in addition to the treatment cycle for the cancer patient to defeat or curtail the disease and I have been fortunate that we had abundance of positive vibes and moral support of family and friends all through the difficult times.  

My advice to all women readers and friends who are aged 40+ to undertake a mammogram to ensure all is well and to keep repeating the tests each year for an early detection of breast cancer can save lots of pains and worries.