November 2016 is the month that changed my life forever. I was diagnosed with 2nd stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the outset, in between hospital visits, blood tests, scans, ports, doctors - the frenzy was nothing short of a very depressing movie! I was consulting multiple doctors and was googling everything that was written in each report. I will never forget the first few hours of been diagnosed , it just seemed so unreal and kept thinking I will wake up now and this would be just one big nightmare.
I kept asking myself, why ME? I’m just 28. However, once the madness settled in terms of finalising my treatment, oncologist, hospital, the fight did not seem so daunting. The word Cancer just seems like an end to everything, the reason I would like to talk about it is to help raise awareness that it is not that bad. It depends on so many parameters- stage, type, age, doctor, medicine etc. My biggest learning was if you have a positive attitude and the will to fight through with the biggest scariest smile, nothing can stop you.
I remember one of my first thoughts were - I’m going to lose all my hair and look like a boy! but trust me, that will be the least of your worries.
I was able to go through all my chemo and radiation sessions only because my family, friends and colleagues stood by me like a rock and never treated me differently from the very beginning. I tried doing everything like a normal person - I kept telling myself, it’s an infection and I’m getting treated - no point giving it any additional mind-space.
When I look back, there were a few things that helped me a lot, I would just like to highlight some of them for those that may be going through something similar -
1) Trust your oncologist. Get as comfortable in asking him or her all your questions. They know the answers and will try their best to help out.
2) For once, don’t google too much because most of what you see online is very scary (and sometimes probably the worst possible scenario) and will put you in the back seat from the very beginning. It would be better to directly speak with your Oncologist and Nurses since each case is very different.
3) Believe that this is like any other infection and don’t get overwhelmed. What helped me was I channeled all my energy towards getting better and would not let go.
4) I drove back after my chemo sessions, I tried going to the gym once my body got used to chemo, I ate as much as possible <it’s completely mind over matter>. In short, try leading a normal life
5) Hair will grow back- just focus on getting better. If you have a happy soul - it will reflect in everything you do.
I could have never gotten through this without the strength of my support system. Not once did they let me down - from doing dinners, movie dates, gossip, celebrating birthdays, sending me random forwards on being strong, meditating with me - my family and friends have done it all.
In the beginning, everything seemed so unreal but trust me it will get better. All it requires is the attitude and will to fight it. Don’t ever let anyone sympathise with you, be strong and trust yourself completely. I never believed in the power of the mind until now. You can do it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
While I end this, the feeling is very very overwhelming but the experience will make you stronger in so many aspects and you will discover so many things in the bargain. The power of attitude, family, self confidence will do wonders during this time.
The ride will be a difficult one but trust me you will find many miracles on the way that will make you believe in magic!
- Panchna Devaiah