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Terminal Illness and Death- Quality or Quantity, the Debate Goes On

Terminal Illness and Death- Quality or Quantity, the Debate Goes On

What’s more important to You, Quality or Quantity of Life? How far do we want to go to prolong our lives?

What a complex life!! Amidst the web of relationships I am entwined in, I am caught in this strange cycle of life and death. Where birth brings in joy death sure does bring sorrow.  But strangely, in my 36 odd years of existence, I have learnt that not always must death bring in sorrow. I have had situations in life when the death of my loved one has brought in an altogether different feeling. It is that unique feeling of relief and sadness mixed together.  At such times, you seldom shed those tears of sorrow, but give a sigh of relief instead, thanking God that the life has come to an end. Strange isn’t it, but I have experienced this weird feeling twice in my life.

Appa’s last few years were a fierce battle- with cancer. And it was not only his, it was all of ours. Metastatic colo-rectal cancer has a poor prognosis with only 5% of the cases crossing the five year mark, post diagnosis. I still remember the doctor telling me this. Yet, we decided to go ahead with the fight. Despite the multiple surgeries, and numerous rounds of Chemotherapy, Appa didn’t make it to the five year mark. Amma and I still ponder over the fact whether it really was worth fighting such an aggressive form of cancer, ‘cause despite the treatment prolonging his life by a year or so, it did reduce the quality of his life drastically, and also burnt a big hole in Amma and Appa’s savings. A healthy Appa was reduced to a mere frame.

I still remember the last day of his life. As the body began the process of shutting down, I sat by his side rubbing his palm that was turning cold by the minute. The cancer had spread through his body and the pain it caused is indescribable. As I sat there that night, I said those silent prayers hoping those few traces of life would leave his body soon. Every minute of pain, seemed to be a lifetime. And finally after more than twelve hours of moaning in pain, Appa slipped away slowly.

I was glad his life ended!!!!

My Paati was the kindest souls in my life. I still remember my childhood days spent in her lovely little home in Chennai. The kitchen would be stocked up with the most yummy savories and sweets and every meal would be a surprise.  She did belong to a generation that was far healthier. No wonder Paati outlived many family members who were younger than her, finally closing her eyes at the age of 97. Despite having lived a contended life, her last few months were spent simply lying on the bed. Unable to move, due to a stroke, she would have pipes to feed her and an attender who would take care of the body and its needs. It seemed to be a mere existence as Paati slowly failed to recognize any of us. It was a painful sight to see the woman who taught me so much, to be motionless. For some strange reason, her life clung on to her body, refusing to let go. Unable to see her that way, I would secretly pray the ordeal ended. And finally when it did, I gave a sigh of relief!!

Advancements in modern medicine present us with opportunities to live longer lives and keep life threatening diseases at a chronic stage for longer periods of time. But is it worth being kept alive in this way? Just how far do we want to go to prolong our lives?

It’s truly tough determining this, because there is no one right solution. The process of knowing what you want may take time and deep reflection as well as conversations with your loved ones. Of course we all want our loved ones to live for eternity, but prolonging life and living life are two totally different things.

Isn’t quality of life more important than quantity???

‘Cause Prevention is Better Than Cure

‘Cause Prevention is Better Than Cure

“It wouldn’t have reached this stage had a preventive health check been done, detecting it early”. The oncologist said, gazing at my father’s reports. Five years back my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. Eventually he succumbed to the disease despite the multiple surgeries, chemo sessions and hospital rounds, which did nothing but burn a hole in his pocket. But this episode did do one thing positive! It highlighted the importance of preventive health checkups.

There are two sets of people- those who run to the doctor for every sniffle, and those who simply never do. I am talking about the latter- people who find it easier to just pop a pill rather than visit a clinic. Paradoxically, we live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with health information. Yet, these are the commonly heard excuses, which I find tad weird.

  • We are from a khaatha peetha parivaar (a healthy family that eats well). What could probably be wrong with us?
  • Getting a check-up is a sign of weakness. And I am not!
  • No one in my family has ever had any major problem previously. So why would I ever have one?

We live in a time where our body and mind are governed by factors, beyond our control.  Apart from the food we eat- the air around us, the ever changing climate and the increasing use of gadgets and appliances, could impact our health and living negatively. Hence, regular health exams can help find problems before they start. An early detection means your chances of treatment and cure is better. Choose the right health service for screening and you surely are taking that step for living a longer, healthier life.

Now what about these excuses?

  • Doctors and diagnostic centers are out there to fleece you. They prescribe unnecessary tests.
  • Too busy juggling work and children and do not have the time to visit a health centre.

I recently did a preventive health checkup from Thyrocare, a trusted name in diagnostics and preventive health care. With the kind of seamless and efficient service provided, I am sure such excuses would be a thing of the past for many. Here is my experience- my Thyrocare service review.

Thyrocare offers preventive healthcare packages at affordable costs which is far lower than other packages in the market. The Thyrocare Aarogyam Package is tailor made and grouped as per the age & gender requirement and pre-existing health condition.  I chose the Arogyam C profile that assessed 86 parameters. The tests helped my doctor evaluate comprehensively- from multiple organ functioning to bone health. No unnecessary tests or exorbitant costs. Booking of tests were done from home through the responsive customer care number. Want it bit more easily?? You could book through Whats app too. The turnaround time to respond is quick, in less than an hour, where you receive an SMS confirming your appointment. Alternatively you could make a booking online through the website, which details the various packages available.

A lab technician arrives at your home at the designated time for sample collection, which are then forwarded to the central processing laboratory of Thyrocare for assessment. Reports are generated in 48 hours and are sent to you through an auto – generated mail. If you require a hardcopy, the same is sent in coordination with Thyrocare Service Provider for Rs. 35 additionally.

I liked the ease with which my tests were done. Friendly customer care executives, affordable packages and quick receiving of reports.  With health centres such as Thyrocare, preventive health care has just got easier.

So get thinking, and do the checkup that’s been pending, before it is too late.

*Featured Image Source: http://www.healthcarereformmagazine.com/
Survival- Get Your Mix of Positivity & Hope #AtoZChallenge

Survival- Get Your Mix of Positivity & Hope #AtoZChallenge

sSurviving cancer should have a mix of optimism and positivity. It is found all around us; however we often fail to notice them. Just like my friend “S”. I had done an earlier blog post of her battle with cancer. So filled with optimism is her story that I had to blog about her once again.

S was 34 when she noticed that first lump in her breast. A series of tests and a biopsy later, her doctor declared it to be cancerous. S was devastated. She had a beautiful family comprising of two young girls and a loving husband. She felt there was no hope of her surviving and was worried how her family would manage if anything were to happen to her. S was scheduled to be operated in a week’s time. The day before the surgery she sat in the hospital bed with a glum face. By her side was another young patient, admitted with lymphoblastic leukemia. He was all of 8 years old.

In S’s words, “That kid literally shook me up. He was playing a game of chess with his mother. Despite the dry skin and loss of hair resulting out of his treatment, you should have seen the glow on his face. He had all his moves right. Not that his mother was making the game easy for him. She challenged him in every possible way. But I could see that he was enjoying his game, and every move made. I chatted up with the duo. He was scheduled for a surgery in two days time. Despite the anxiety strewn across the mothers face, the child had none. He loved games he said- Monopoly, and Pictionary being his favorite. He plays to win and that made him happy. At that moment it hit me hard.”

S added, “Now that’s what you call being positive and being optimistic, with no fear of the future.  Giving every move in life your best without really looking far ahead. Life is sure full of uncertainties. Whether it is for a cancer patient or for that matter any one of us. Why not enjoy the moment and just be optimistic about the future? Why worry about things which really aren’t in your control? I prepared myself mentally for the surgery as the docs prepared me physically.”

Before I was to be sedated, I called my husband and said, “I don’t know what’s the outcome of the surgery or my treatment, but I am going in smiling. And I will come out smiling, so go get me the best wig in town!!!” He had a hearty laugh.

“I did come out of the surgery smiling. The months to follow were scheduled with radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. They kept me in bed for days. I puked like hell. But somewhere deep down I stopped worrying about the outcome of my ailment. Instead I played Pictionary and Scotland Yard with my daughters. Their smiles during the games made me feel better. It is nine months since my last treatment. Mentally I am prepared to face anything now. I have come a long way, since my diagnosis. That little boy taught me to enjoy every move of mine. I call this survival without having a fear of the future.”

Moving on in life- After a Cancer Treatment

Moving on in life- After a Cancer Treatment

You have begun your battle. Diagnosis of cancer brings with it numerous things. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, scans etc… It often proves to be a setback to many physically, emotionally and of course financially too. Though the battle is often considered an ongoing one, at the end of every treatment cycle, it is time to sit down and breathe. Give yourself a pat on your back for having endured a treatment, so harsh.

Cancer treatments could be very stressful. The side effects cannot be undermined, and may linger longer in many patients. You may thus get a sense of relief when you complete a cycle of treatment. Amidst all this feeling of relief, it is very common to worry about cancer coming back at a later stage. Of course post treatment regular intervals would call for physical examinations, scans blood tests etc… Still it is best to accept the situation and move on. Get yourself a quality of life and not be bogged down by the ailment.

  • Moving on with life style changes

Look at it this way. You have got a new lease of life, wouldnt you want to spend the best time with your loved ones? Do the things you love to do the most? A change in lifestyle could improve your overall health mentally and physically.

  • Whats that hobby that you left behind?

Love playing the piano, or digging up seeds in your little kitchen garden? Do it now. The positive changes you would see in you could probably prevent a recurrence. Its better than worrying you see!!!

  • Healthy way out

Long walks on your drive, the fresh morning air, loads of fresh fruits and veggies, get them more. It will do wonders to your quality of life. Exercise, eat well and rest plenty. You’d get over the fatigue caused by chemotherapy pretty soon.

  • The emotional you

Cancer diagnosis and treatment could often make you feel depressed and lonely.You have gone through a lot emotionally since diagnosis. Coping with your own physical state, plus the impact your illness has on your immediate caregivers. isnt easy. Post treatment, it is the time to get your emotional state back in form. Turn to your family and friends for comfort. Catch up with old friends and yap away on the glorious years of the past.  The warmth you would get from your people and loved ones would be a great source of comfort.

Life has some wonderful things which you still probably havent explored. So instead of feeling guilty, or getting worried about a remission, get going, move on and enjoy all that’s around you. Start the positive changes from day one post treatment. It would make you feel better, healthier and cheer you up after the gloom you have left behind with the treatment. Cancer really isnt in your hands. But what is, is how you are going to spend the remaining part of your life.

Start feeling the fragrance around you.

Should I continue the Fight? A Cancer Story

Should I continue the Fight? A Cancer Story

He was not our friend. Nor was he a relative. Not even a neighbor, yet he was our solace during our worst of days. This is “his” story- of Mr. Rao (name changed on request).

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As we walked in to the hostile looking Oncology ward in Manipal hospital for the first time, little did we know what was actually in store. Of course we had read up on the “not so nice” side effects of chemotherapy. But we still had not seen the real picture. The first bed that greeted us in the narrow ward, had a lean man, probably as old as my Dad. He seemed to be comfortable on the tapered bed, oblivious  of the thin pipe and needle that dripped chemotherapy medication into him.

The chairs in the ward placed for the respective caregivers were close to each other.  So conversations were bound to happen. Similar to Dad, Mr. Rao was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer at stage 4, with metastasis to the liver. In the 12 months post diagnosis, Rao had seen 2 surgeries and at least 12 rounds of chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay. Having a similar condition, we discussed treatment options, doctors’ response, and prognosis. That was just the beginning. Over the years that followed, we would often bump into Mr. Rao at the Onco ward, where the conversation shifted from medical stuff to local politics, books, sports and family matters. For dad, he was the sole companion in the grim Onco ward.

It has been 5 years now. Dad succumbed to the disease in October after his long drawn battle. I called up Mr. Rao, to inform him of the demise. He said, “Could you please drop by?, I want to meet you.” I wasn’t really keen, considering I had just lost my father. I still trudged on to pay him a visit. He started the conversation. “Why do you think I am still around? Is it because the disease is being kind on me? Or because I have the fighting spirit? I simply do not know. I don’t want to go on with this disease any more”. I was taken aback at what he said.

Looking at my perplexed face, he continued, “I am 68 years old. Firstly, at this age, taking on the side effects of the medication gets to be doubly tough. From burning deep skin rashes caused by “Erbitux” ( adjuvant therapy medicine in treating cancer with liver metastasis), stomach related troubles, nausea vomiting, and a general feeling of uneasiness. I have had enough. Ok, so let us say that I still go on enduring all this.

Here is the second issue. By God’s grace, I retired from ISRO and receive a reasonable central government pension. I also saved up a substantial corpus for my retirement. Not to forget, my son is a techie in USA and he sends me money regularly. Yet,  a medical expenditure of almost 10-12 lakhs a year is difficult on us. In the Indian market, the cost of a vial of Avastin or Erbitux (adjuvant therapy drugs for treating liver metastasis) is between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000. A session of chemotherapy sometimes requires 3 vials. This is a drug that aggressively fights the spread of the disease. But at what cost?

Now the third and most important thing-my wife, who is my support and immediate caregiver. My wife and I live on our own. My son has a thriving job abroad. I would say he is a dutiful and loving son. Yet, is it justified to ask him to quit his job and return home to take care of me? My wife, she is a sugar patient herself and the umpteen trips to the hospital and then getting home and ensuring I am fine, does take a toll on her health. So now can you tell me, should I really continue to fight this disease?”

I had no answer.

Cancer medication does not offer you a guarantee of life. This is especially applicable to those diagnosed at a later stage of the disease. As one doctor aptly put it- “you are only prolonging life”. Once the disease is metastatic, it would keep coming back. So it would have to be an ongoing fight, with recurring medical expenses, till probably your energy or resources are totally drained out. Mr. Rao is probably in this stage now. I left him that day without knowing if I should tell him to continue his fight or let go of life. There was no quality of life after all, and no promise of quantity of life.

The World Cancer Day this year has a tag line  “Not Beyond Us”. It would focus on 4 main areas.

·         Healthy life choices

·         Treatment for all

·         Taking care of quality of life

·         Early detection

I am glad that these four areas are being focused upon. At least for people like Mr. Rao, the last two options, would mean a great big deal.

Death Bed Visions

Death Bed Visions

He lay on his death bed, mumbling and moaning. I noticed his eyes- they were transfixed at the room door. Did I catch a movement of his pupils? Well, probably once or twice in a span of an hour.”

Just a month back, I had met father’s oncologist. “The cancer is terminal”, she had said. I asked with a grim face, “So how long more?” A tough question for any doctor to answer. But she answered, diplomatically, “Unlikely months may be weeks.”  I had got the message. Father wasn’t really going to make it through.  And his first sign of the impending death came sooner than expected. The onset of jaundice in terminal liver cancer marks the beginning of the end. The liver is a vital organ responsible for regulating metabolic activities across our body. And a failure would mean a slow death of all other vital organs. The unregulated count of ammonia in the blood becomes a toxin to the brain. Hepatic coma is what the patient finally gets into.

And then his mumbling became clear. He called out, “Mother you have finally come? Where had you been?” An hour or so passed and he called out again, “Shankar, you have come too. And you look so young.”  Shankar was my mother’s brother, whom father had always disliked. He had expired a year ago. Upon hearing this last line, I instantly felt a sudden chill. Father was having death bed visions (or known as DBV in short). He was talking to my grand mom and uncle- both of them deceased.

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In scientific literature such experiences have been referred to as death-related sensory experiences (DRSE).  Many a dying patients have often reported such visions of comfort to hospice staff around them. The scientific community considers deathbed phenomena and visions to be hallucinations

Specific studies on deathbed phenomena have described the visual, auditory, and sensed presences of deceased relatives or angelic beings during the dying process as hallucinations. The hallucinations occur due to cerebral hypoxia. When the body is injured, or if the heart stops, even if only for a short period the brain is deprived of oxygen. A short period of cerebral hypoxia can result in the impairment of neuronal function.

I have almost always looked up to science for life’s various questions and mysteries. Yet, for what I have experienced watching my dying Dad, I am still to receive convincing answers. Going with the hallucinations theory, I still have questions unanswered.

Why were there only dead people in his hallucinations? If they were a game of the brain, why did he call out to my uncle whom he seldom liked? How come he had clarity in his voice when he called out? He wasn’t coherent otherwise.

As I sat by dads bedside in his last few hours, I was greatly comforted in many a way to hear his death bed visions. I felt despite his pain, the sight of family members ready to take him with them, may make his transition, from dying to the world beyond, easier.

Probably that’s what I want to believe.

Hopefully, as time goes by, science would be able to give us a greater insight into such phenomena.

Quit it- Before He Gets You

Quit it- Before He Gets You

“All names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals”

I saw Krishna and his bandaged mouth, at the medical ward of the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi. Thin intravenous tubes were connected to his hand and another pipe was at his mouth. His dutiful wife, Sangeetha sat by his side. She had been my domestic help for the past 4 years. And, the bond between us had grown beyond a mere employer- employee relationship, sharing daily tidbit of each others lives. With three little kids to feed and educate, Krishna worked as a rickshaw puller on Ajmal Khan Road, and Sangeetha worked in two more residences in our colony.

Whether it was the staunch smell of the tincture, or the sight of Krishna’s disfigured face, I simply do not know. Five minutes in the ward and a dizzy feeling crept through me. I quickly gripped a chair and sat down. Sangeetha was inconsolable. The cancer was malignant, prompting the doctors to cut off the lesion stricken portion of Krishna’s tongue. As the oncologist walked in, Sangeetha looked up, searching for some hope in the doctor’s face. “He is fine now, and could be discharged soon,” the doctor said. As he walked out, I followed him to understand Krishna’s state. “The disease is progressive he said. We would use the traditional ways of chemotherapy and maybe radiation if required… but….” I understood from his trailing voice… there wasn’t much hope after all.

Quote: “Oral cancer remains one of the most devastating and disfiguring of all malignancies. It has a higher ratio of deaths-per-cases than that of breast and cervical cancer.”

In the United States alone, tobacco use accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, causing 87% of lung cancer deaths in men, and 70% of lung cancer deaths in women. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014). Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

So you are at risk if you regularly chew gutka, paan, zarda, paan masala and any other form of chewable tobacco. A cigarette, cigar or a beedi is no better. Here are some hard hitting facts.

The risk of oral cancer is about 5 to 10 times greater among smokers compared to people who never smoked. This risk is further multiplied among smokers who also drink alcohol. Smokers are at higher risk of dying from oral cancer than those who have never smoked. The risk of dying from oral cancer increases with the amount smoked per day.

In Delhi state alone more than a lakh of people consume some form of tobacco. Tiny packets are available in most “chai” shops around the street. For people like Krishna, consumption of chewable tobacco gives them the much needed vigor to endure a day’s hard labor. Despite the warning on the packet, little did Krishna realize its consequences. The malignancy caused by chewing tobacco eventually took Krishna’s life away.

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The Delhi government has called for a ban of the sale of chewable tobacco products in the state. This is yet to be formally enforced as the Delhi High Court on April 8,2015 had restrained it from taking any coercive action against a manufacturer who had appealed against the ban following which the ban notification was revised.

I personally feel such a ban is a much needed thing for the well being of the people, if it is coupled with large scale campaigns to educate the masses on the harmful effects of chewable tobacco. It would save many more lives. It would save many more families from losing their loved one.

He lived a good life, right?

He lived a good life, right?

Source:www.huffingtonpost.com
Inspired by NDTV and Fortis Health4UCancerthon, this Sunday, Richard and I decided to do our bit for those, who have in some way or the other been affected by the disease- either as a patient or as a caregiver. Being a very informal thing, we stuck to those we know and would be responsive to our care.
During the course of the day, I paid a visit to dear Mrs. K, a 60 something lady of utmost grit and strength. After having lost her husband to colo-rectal cancer two years ago, Mrs. K recently was operated for a benign lump in her breast. She now partners with many NGO’s in and around Delhi providing care and financial support to terminal patients. More than all that she does, it is what she said that showed her maturity level, her strength within and her understanding of life as a whole.
“I lost my dad to colo-rectal cancer 4 months back and I am still not able to come to terms with it”, I said. “It’s probably not the death alone. What is really upsetting me is the way he suffered the last few months of his life and the week before demise. It wasn’t a pleasant sight at all. I know my father has to die someday, but I wish he didn’t suffer so much. The disease literally ate him up inside out. He was a mere frame in the end.” It was an emotional outburst from my end. She sat quiet listening, stoic.
After I had calmed down, she began,”How old was your father when he passed away?” I said 70. “And he fought cancer for 5 years, which means he was diagnosed at the age of 65, right?” she asked. Ok now that is not difficult mathematics. She continued,”How was your father’s life for 65 years?” “Hmmm”, I said, “Well the usual life, earning a living and raising a family”. She asked immediately,” So he had no ailments in his life?” I said no. “Then you have no reason to be upset, “she said.
I was shocked at her response. Here I was grieving my father’s death, and the one sitting in front of me tells me not to be upset.  She said,” look at it this way. He lived a good life, a life a lot of people may crave for but never actually get. A healthy, normal family life with beautiful relationships around. It was only the last five years of his life that he suffered. He did live a good life right?  So now, you decide which portion of his life you want to keep in your mind. The majorly happier one, or a few years of suffering? I didn’t have an answer. I left the matter there with a single acknowledging nod.
As I left her place yesterday, I kept pondering over what she said. It took me a while to sink in its depth. And when it did sink it, I felt different, – a sense of calmness engulfed all over me.
Is the glass half empty or half full,”? A very common theory of how people perceive. It kind of applied here too. I kept focusing on the years he didn’t live, I seldom looked at the numerous years he did. I despite having knowledge of the situation looked at it with a whole lot of pessimism.
Thanks Mrs. K for your warm thoughts. This blog is dedicated to Sunday’s sweet little chat we had over coffee. Glad we have people like you around inspiring others.
Hiding under a wig

Hiding under a wig

This blog post is dedicated to “J”, a reader of my blog. Thanks for sharing your story “J”. 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

“J” all of 52 years is a successful hair stylist in Los Angeles. As a stylist with her own salon, she thought she knew everything that is to be known about styling and hair cuts. Afterall having trained in the Hair Design Institute, Manhattan, her expertise could not be doubted. But at the age of 49, “J” was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The diagnosis, surgery and treatment, all came as a shocker and by the end of 6 months, she was worn out and tired. But she confronted one aspect that all women cancer patients go through- losing their hair as a result of aggressive chemotherapy.

Source: http://hair.lovetoknow.com/Free_Wigs_for_Cancer_Patients

“J” initially decided to not sport a wig and maintain the bald look. “After all’, she said “I wasnt ashamed of anything. Losing hair is a bargain for having my life saved.” But being in the profession of styling, when she got back to work, she realised, her looks did matter. “My bald look didn’t really go well with my self-image. I had to maintain a certain confident look, so I decided to sport a wig.”

Buying a wig was the next thing to do, and that’s when she realised how overwhelming it could be. At a time, when you are already going through so much physically and emotionally. “Of course I knew my hair would grow back in time, but in the interim a wig was a much-needed thing. As I had always sported a short hair style, I picked one almost similar. The biggest pain in hiding under a wig, is this constant pricking sensation. Thats why I always recommend people to buy a good quality one. The synthetic material may often cause irritation, especially on a hot day. Another worry was the wig flying off in a windy day. So I then had them neatly pinned down by the side of my ears. But then I also found the brighter side of it. The few months I sported a wig, I tried out different styles. From a curly-haired one to an auburn one, I had a fun time trying them out, My clients at my salon noticed my new look and I did manage to get some compliments for my new look. It pepped me up in the depressing days of chemotherapy.”

The battle with cancer could be quite taxing, both mentally and physically. Sometimes such small thrills, of trying out new wigs, could definitely bring some cheer. Its not about the wig, says “J” , I look at myself as a whole new person. And when I remove my wig, I am reminded of cancer within me. I put it on and I am the stylist in me.

Linking with : http://www.writetribe.com/write-tribe-pro-blogger-challenge/

Stigma in Cancer Patients- Shoudnt we be concerned?

Stigma in Cancer Patients- Shoudnt we be concerned?

The term ” stigma” means “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”. Well, this is what you get when you search for the meaning on google. But for a cancer patient, stigmas are much more.

source: http://www.stigmaconference.nih.gov/

I was recently chatting with a cancer patient on a popular forum.He was sharing his feelings with me and I was disturbed after what I learnt from the chat. It begins from the time of diagnosis. The attitudes that prevail range from denial to a drop in self-esteem. A general feeling that other people may probably now see the patient as less than what he was, or probably even avoid. A few other people pity so much that the patient himself  may start looking down upon himself, with a feeling that the greatest misfortune has fallen on him.

Ok I do agree cancer is a dreaded disease. But hey, don’t you think it’s better to look at it this way, of fighting it out and being confident of overcoming the disease?Why succumb to it in your mind?

I distinctly remember when dad was diagnosed with cancer, it quite became the talk among our immediate community. People gossiped and questioned about his lifestyle. Probably it would have been nice if these very same people could have walked up to him, cheered him up and helped him mentally to fight the disease out. The stigma is more in patients with rectal cancer with a colostomy bag. It’s not really considered pleasant to mention it to anybody.

I actually attribute this “Oh My God, It’s Cancer !!” attitude to the lack of information among people. The awareness is low and attempts by those affected arent really helping. We need to raise it at a larger level in our society, so that the fear and stigma associated with the disease could be reduced a great deal.

I often stress on one point … Fighting cancer is a game of the mind…. And this game is not only played by the patient, but requires a lot of help from loved ones and the society too.

Linked up with http://www.writetribe.com/write-tribe-pro-blogger-challenge/