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…
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