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Six years ago, doctors told I only had six months to live

Survivor Stories . 30 Nov 2020

A diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer along with brain metastasis can be brain-numbing. I still remember losing all hopes when the doctor told me I had advanced lung cancer that had spread to my brain too.

I was just 36 years old when I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had a large family to take care of. We had dreams and plans for our children’s future, and a cancer diagnosis was definitely not something I was ready to deal with. But then, life is known for throwing curveballs every now and then. These challenges may change the way you look at your life and deal with matters at hand. In my case, it helped me understand that when your family stands behind you, even something as huge as an advanced stage cancer becomes insignificant.

Back in 2012, when I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, advanced cancers did not have enough treatment options – being right the first time was the only way around. After hearing that my chances of surviving were slim at a hospital in Mumbai, I arrived at HCG Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Hospital, Ranchi as a last resort. My visit to this hospital changed things for good. Fast forward 6 years, today, I am cancer-free and am living a normal life.

Receiving a Lung Cancer Diagnosis

It all started in the year 2012 with a severe cough that just wouldn’t stop. As my condition started worsening, I visited a nearby doctor who told it was tuberculosis, and another doctor had something else to say. In the hope of receiving an accurate diagnosis, I travelled to Patna and met a doctor there. After some time, things started looking better. I thought everything would be normal soon – but, I was wrong. After a year, I started getting persistent headaches. I met a doctor in Patna again, who said it was nothing serious and prescribed a few medicines, but there were no improvements, whatsoever. The cough never left, and we had already spent a king’s ransom on my medicines but to no avail.

During one of my doctor visits at Bokaro, near my home town, my doctor suggested a chest X-ray. After going through the results, he referred me to another specialist, who asked me to undergo a chest CT scan. At this point, I knew something was wrong. My CT scan results came back and there it was – lung cancer. I was immediately asked to travel to Mumbai for further treatment.

Within a few days, my condition worsened with excessive coughing and blood vomiting. My family and I left for Mumbai for my treatment in November 2013. Upon a biopsy test at a popular hospital there, I got a confirmed diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer along with brain cancer, which was caused due to the cancer spreading from the lungs.

Confusion and fear took over. I felt lost, and for a while, I didn’t know what my next steps were. My family was shaken. But we did not let all these last long. We came together, decided to stand strong, and fight tooth and nail against what was to come.

Given Six Months to Live

In Mumbai, I was supposed to receive radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but due to the long waiting periods, I was asked to wait for 3 months. We were ready to wait as it was our only hope. Around 45 days into our waiting period, we met a doctor who said something that destroyed every ounce of hope, courage and confidence that my family and I had. He said that I had only six months to live, and it was better for me to get my treatment at HCG Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Hospital in Ranchi, which is near to my home town.

When I was in Mumbai, I happened to see several cancer fighters – from babies to old people. Their families were doing everything they could, just wanting to see their loved-ones becoming cancer-free again. I was seeing myself in each one of them. Every time I saw a cancer fighter, the fighter in me became even more ferocious. I didn’t want to stop fighting, I didn’t want to stop looking for the best and lastly, I didn’t want to lose without trying – and this brought me back to Ranchi.

Treatment at HCG Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Hospital, Ranchi

The first thing the doctors at HCG Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Hospital did was to let me know that it was not just six months that I had. It was at this moment I realised that I was in safe hands. Upon careful examination, the expert team discussed the best possible treatment plan with me and my family. This treatment plan involved 6 cycles of chemotherapy – one cycle every 21 days and 10 fractions of whole-brain radiation.

During the treatment, my skin turned dark, I lost all my hair and had experienced extreme tiredness. At one point, these side effects had started affecting my mental health too. Nevertheless, the expert team at HCG assured that all these will be temporary side effects only and everything will be okay as I recover. They were extremely supportive and kind throughout my treatment. It was these people who made me believe that cancers that were as advanced as mine were treatable, provided the approach was right.

Leaving the temporary after-effects aside, the treatment worked well, and I was cancer-free again. From being told that I just had 6 months to living 6 fulfilling years and still counting, I have come a far way – and, HCG Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Hospital made that possible for me. I and my family are eternally thankful to this hospital and its expert team for giving a precious second life to me.

Family Being My Biggest Support System

There’s nothing more you can ask for when you have a beautiful, strong and caring family standing behind you at every point of your life – be it good or bad. My diagnosis was not easy, it was advanced-stage cancer, I had to frequently travel for check-ups and treatment and lastly, the treatment was itself draining. Amidst all this one thing was constant and that was my family. While my husband, younger brother and my daughter travelled with me to Mumbai, my father and sister took care of my house and my three other children while I was battling cancer.

As mine was an advanced stage cancer, even now there are days when I don’t feel good. During these days, my sister comes down to my place to run all the errands for me. Every time I saw my family being there for me, my will to win over cancer became stronger and stronger and if it was not for them, beating something as serious as an advanced stage cancer would not have been possible.

Parting Message

As I successfully fought cancer and recovered, I brought in some healthy changes to my lifestyle, such as regular walking, practising meditation, staying away from polluted air, etc. Treating your body as a temple is the first step towards keeping various diseases at bay. Apart from that, it is also crucial to maintain personal hygiene, ensure that the living environment is clean, avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, curb the consumption of junk food, etc.

Having confidence and the right attitude towards life becomes important while fighting cancer. Celebrate each day of your life and make yourself so strong that cancer doesn’t stand a chance.