When this cute kid kicked Cancer’s butt!

When this cute kid kicked Cancer’s butt!

Hey people,

When I was a kid, I was intensely, madly, passionately in love with cricket. If you had have asked me what I wished to become once I grew up, the answer would be nothing but ‘a cricketer.’

I mean can you match that craziness of playing cricket whole day without worrying about, home, school, classes, any comic strips/ cartoons! Talk to me about the game, and I can talk for hours…I lived for Cricket and could see the same match for continuous many days till the time I would know the scoreboard numbers by heart.

Hi, this is Rohit, and this is my story of courage, determination, and fearlessness. 

This is a story of a twelve-year-old boy who fought a fierce battle against Cancer when he wasn’t aware of the seriousness of the disease. Let’s dive together to the memory lane.

Sometimes, real superheros live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.~ Anonymous

I remember that day of autumn was no different.

It was afternoon when I accidentally (or rather, fortunately) tripped while playing. For some reason, I couldn’t get up for a few seconds. Somehow my Dad sensed that something was wrong (You see, there is a reason they say that parents are God!). I had swelling in the left knee. Since the pain killers did not work for days, our family doctor asked for X-Ray of my knee. Later I was sent for MRI as he could sense something fishy.

And that’s how my journey with Cancer began in the year 2004. Ummm…Stupid Cancer, I was too little for this!

The MRI scan gave a clear picture that it was an initial stage Osteosarcoma, a kind of Bone Cancer in the knee (if you have watched The Fault in Our Stars, it’s the same disease Augustus Waters suffered). 

Within a week, I found myself at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai.

In those years, Cancer was not a disease much talked about. There was a stigma attached to it (there still it, but I guess it’s better now). My parents thought they would hardly find any patients in the hospital as we never heard anyone with this disease! ( I talked about stigma thing!). But we had a completely different picture altogether. With thousands of patients, this place looked nothing less than a ‘Mecca’ for Cancer patients where every patient had his own story.

And there I saw a million emotions in those quiet faces. But if you strike a conversation, they were more than happy to share their part of the world.

Their journey has stories of diagnosis, disappointment, and a ray of hope when they started their travel to this unknown city. After all, everyone needs a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry!

Once in TMH, they started their procedure with biopsy.

And it was tough I tell you! I still remember the pain it caused when the needle touched the bone. As I pen these lines, I still shiver with pain. The pain was so intense that I did not allow doctors to complete the process properly.

The thought of getting surgery scared me! No! Not because of the pain, but because of the fear.

Would I be able to walk again?

 How am I going to be a cricketer?

I saw my dreams getting shattered!

And then I resisted the treatment. ‘Oh! I can get well by medicines only!’

(The picture above is my parent’s favorite of all. They think I have incorporated all my childhood strength in this yellow color.) 

Somehow my sister convinced me to get admitted, and I trusted her words. I sometimes feel that being a kid can be one of the greatest blessings. This moment you are sad, and the other moment you find happiness in little things. You aren’t aware of any negativity in life!

Life is ‘fun’, ‘games’, and ‘happiness’ and that’s the best part of childhood!

Very soon, I knew the names of chemos instead of my classmates!

My treatment consisted of a total of nine chemotherapy cycles broken into  – three chemotherapy cycles, a total knee replacement surgery, and then six more chemotherapy cycles. Each chemotherapy cycle was for five days and it was intense. All the heavy medicine injections were given through a catheter tube (thin flexible tube) which went straight to the heart from the right elbow. The tube was there for the whole 8-9 months.

Since the chemotherapy had made me vulnerable to infections (due to low white blood cells), I was given injections for the next one week after every cycle to manage that. (Are you afraid of injection! Oh! I too belonged to the same category till they stopped scaring me!)

I wish it would end just this way, but wait there is more!

Chemotherapy does not come alone, it brings along with it other side effects of treatment too which includes weight loss, low appetite, no taste in food along with certain every food restriction to name a few, and I had them all.

For one year, I had to eat everything home-made boiled/cooked just so that my body did not have to fight another infection in between the treatment. But how could a Mom settle for tasteless food for her son even if it had to be boiled!

She would try to make the best of what she could every single time, even when she knew that I would vomit the food as soon as I take it! 

In those tough times, my parents were my pillars of strength though it was harder for them. Now when I ask them ‘What kept them going‘, I see their sheer determination of bringing me back on my feet.

They believe that there are equally good and bad times in life. If this phase is putting you down, you will equally have good times tomorrow. But for that to happen, you need to fight out this time with your heart.

I have ‘this mantra’ for my whole life now!

There is a small incident I remember which still occupies a big place in my heart.

And that was the support of my little young army of friends. One of my childhood best friends, Utkarsh visited me and brought cards sent by my school classmates. This kind gesture was more than enough to push me harder towards getting better, I now knew that I was surrounded by so many lovely people, and I looked forward to my bright days and my happening life with them.

I guess everything together helped me to recover faster!

Here is a little piece of advice from my heart to yours: When you love people, let them know. Tell them that they are valued, and there is a reason they are here. Your good words will help them move forward during their hard times.

As a young adult, the memories haunt me sometimes. When you are a kid, your mind is less occupied with ‘bad thoughts’.

But as you grow up, the negativity piles up and tries to make room in your heart. And here comes your will power to control the negative thoughts and keep a positive approach towards life. I have also learned to believe that whenever one finds himself in any crisis, it is important to keep your trust firm. Now that trust can be on your God, or any invisible power you believe in!

Many times when someone says that ‘I was too young to remember anything from my days of treatment’, it surprises me. Because it’s not easy to forget a major life event, and the pain you suffered. (Also, I was in Class Six, not a kid to forget things! I always knew how to smile. Any day! Can you see that above?  😉)

And Cancer is not a disease that happens to every other person (Thankfully. Phew)! Neither do such phases come and go. They always leave ineradicable traces in your mind and remind you to be thankful for whatever you have.

And here I am! Thankful to everything!

Thankful because I am here, breathing and living my life. It might not be the ‘best’ as per society’s standard, But there is life! There is always something to be thankful for, even if it not according to your expectations. If you enjoyed your life before cancer, then do not be afraid of life post-Cancer because you will find the beauty in your life again.

 If you are brave enough to start, you are strong enough to finish! ~ Gary Blair

I still have few scars on my body due to the treatment, surgery, and the catheter tube, but I am not afraid of them. Because they always remind me that I am stronger than whatever tried to hurt me!!

You see, I believe in magic! And years later my diagnosis, I am still a cricket lover (also a food lover now (sneak- peek into my world)). Who knows, a few years from now, you might see me in the stadium, if not playing cricket than may be accompanying Sunil Gavaskar in the commentary box of Eden Gardens, and going for the famous snacks post the match. 😉 🙂

May we all learn to trust, grow and remember that ‘This too shall pass!’

Health and Healing on your way…

Rohit

P.S: Childhood Cancer is worse. When you are an adult, you can do things to take care of yourself, but as a kid, there is so much at stake! Whenever I visit the Childhood Cancer Center, my heart screams in pain. Please do share this story among your circle to let everyone know that there is faith, there is love, and there is healing too. This face needs love and recognition. ~ Ankita

When Strength found a lovely face!

When Strength found a lovely face!

Hello World!

Life can be a bit rough and distressing sometime but if you look at it with a positive outlook you’ll witness that all of this is going to be
worth someday. Everyone has a story, a lesson to teach, and wisdom to share. Every story inspires. So, here I am sharing mine, a small part
of it.

Hi! This is 19 year old cancer survivor Prapti talking. I was 17, young, naive and reckless when it all started. I remember that things
weren’t going fine that time in my life. My physical and mental state wasn’t good. My body was signaling towards something. My stomach
felt bloated, there was anxiety, sudden weight loss. One fine day, I told my mother about it (mothers are goddess), and same day she
took appointment of a Gynecologist.

No, I’m not going to the hospital”, I told her because I was afraid of gynecologist.

My mother won the argument, and we went to the doctor next day. The doctor advised an ultrasound. Next day I got my ultrasound done. The radiologist called his senior, his senior called the third person. I could see a question mark on their face. The whole procedure lasted for 45 minutes. Next thing advised was few blood tests, and a CT scan because ultrasound didn’t make anything clear.

A day after, CT scan was done; I found the whole procedure astounding (I am a curious child who can be dangerous sometimes). Then next day I got my report, and we headed straight to the doctor’s cabin. After few checkups and I was told to wait outside while my mother stayed inside.

After a while, I could hear some noise.

I could see my mother coming out of the cabin.

This feeling was not new. I could sense all of it. I could smell what all was going to happen. I trusted my instincts because 5 year back I lost my brother to brain tumor. I decided to remain silent.

I took the report and searched every scientific word on the internet while my mother was sobbing. It breaks my heart to think about it again. It showed Stage 3B Immature Teratoma!

The body never lies! Period.

I went back to my mother. I told her, “We’ll get out of this soon.”

Courage speaks when YOU are numb!

Tickets to Mumbai were booked. We went to the city of dreams with some hope.

October 1, 2018, my registration was done. A card with my details was hung around my neck. That day, I met people to whom I’ll be forever grateful: My doctors!

Tests were done, biopsy was done and within three days I got the confirmation. I was told that the treatment would last for 4 months which will include 4 big rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery if needed. Okay! Bring it on. I’m ready. I was already aware of chemotherapy.

It takes courage to choose hope over fear-Mark Zuckerberg

I was admitted on October 5th for the chemotherapy. It was decided that only 75% dose will be given. I had all the effects. The damage in the liver disease went to Stage 3. My pulse dropped to 48 due to which the first round was stopped in the midway. It was not a good experience at all.  Same happened with the second round. I remember we used to sleep in casualty all night. Out of 30 days, I would spend 22 days at the hospital.

Why all of this is happening to me only?”, I had this thought in my mind. I guess when you are stuck in the middle of life by a crisis like this, your vision is blurred, nothing positive comes out and the mind screams to get some answer, ‘Why me! Why me! Why me?’ I clearly didn’t bother to see the suffering of the other patients.

Second round was over by the end of  November. I got my CT done which showed that I haven’t really responded to the chemo. The report mentioned two lesions of 20*17 cm and 15*10 cm. It reached Stage 4.

I was shattered and hopeless. Meetings were done, and surgery was planned. I somehow knew that this surgery is going to be worth it.

Surgery was to be done on January 4th, 2019 in the morning shift. I was shifted in the Operation Theater. I could see 19 patients of every age lying on the stretcher outside their respected OTs. All smiles lit my heart. All of us were in the same boat, and all of us trusted that we would land safely to the shore.

I could see my Name and details on the whiteboard. Big lights, machines, doctors and BEEP BEEP sound in the background. “Is this a real life or a Bollywood movie?”, I asked myself.

The whole procedure gave me 38 stitches. It was a Unilateral Oophorectomy .I came back with 4 tubes coming out of my body. My stomach was flat now. Finally, my 5 kg tumor was out.

Ah! What a relief! This made me feel strong. I knew that I’ll appreciate it. More importantly, I wasn’t hopeless anymore.

There’s only one mantra with which you can make any tough situation look easy, i.e., you telling yourself, “You’ve got this, and you’ll come back stronger”.

Childhood Cancer is too challenging and seeing those little warriors on the ground fighting this deadly disease was my biggest source of motivation. When life knocks you down you only have to look around, and you’ll find everyone is fighting his/her own battles which is tough in itself. Some show strength, while some surrender.

I choose to be a warrior!

Two more rounds were left. Each time I was given 100% dose. I didn’t have any side effects this time. What made this difference?

I believe it was my positive outlook, my affirmations that ‘Things will get better’, and my surrounding which filled me with positive energy and hope.

The 4 months treatment took 9 months. I lost one year of my life to Cancer. But I gained strength, wisdom, positivity, and the confidence to face whatever comes!

After 100+ blood requisitions, tons of medicines, 4 rounds of Chemotherapy, and 1 major surgery the AFP level came normal, and I was declared cancer free. Yaaaay!!!! I came back home as a fighter. I was welcomed with a greeting card made by my little sister who stayed home away from everyone else.

But there was more! The struggle didn’t end there. People made fun of me whenever I walked out of my home due to the hair loss. Neighbors would look at me. Some actually called me a boy. Every day I was being asked about the scars chemo gave me.

For months I faced these kinds of issues but I didn’t owe anyone a reply. As human beings, we are insensitive many times. We judge easily. One day I actually saw two girls pointing at me, and laughing about my short hair.

Today, I am a proud owner of a tiny ponytail. Everything is still there; the scars, the stitches, some long term effects as well.

Cancer taught me so many things! I am happy that I have actually changed my way of living in a better way AND most importantly that I’m alive. Now when I look back, I know that there is a ‘higher good’ in every ‘bad’ situation. If thing wouldn’t have happened this way, I would have not met the people whom I love now. Especially, my doctors with whom I crack jokes now. More importantly, I am no more afraid of Gynecologists. Lol.

I personally think that sharing our stories not only help others but it also helps Us. Think about letting go of all your worries by talking about it. Offload all those thoughts that has been eating you up. This worked as a therapy for me, and I’m sure this will work for you as well.

Talking about some myths, unilateral Oophorectomy is normal. Women still functions normally. I mean look at me! Don’t I look super healthy, super happy, and super charged!

What else do I need in this life!

Thank you LIFE, for I have YOU, and you have ME!

Let’s not forget, we are no less than a warriors. Share your struggles, you never know whom you are inspiring!

WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER.

Love and healing,

Prapti

Note: Hey guys, Share the article as much as you can. The world needs courage, strength and faith, and most importantly, the beautiful face above needs recognition!- Ankita