What Cancer Taught Me

By on May 08, 2015
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It’s only 9:30am when I step into my office near Dalal Street, the financial heart of Mumbai, but I’ve been up for several hours and done quite a bit already – yogic asanas, pranayam, meditation. Until recently, I was also doing an Oxford University online course on Hindu scriptures before breakfast with my wife, Pranati, and daughter, Sanaa. Today, I’ve also walked Sanaa, 13, to school.

I work hard, but make sure to leave the office by 6pm, switching my cellphone off to spend the evening with the family. I’m trying to make the most out of each new day. I know I’m in a good place but it’s taken me six years to get here.
By May 2008, we’d already been distressed. My mother had breast cancer. And then an ulcer appeared on my tongue. It grew and wouldn’t go away. My doctor suggested a biopsy, and it was early June when I collected the reports. 
“Your doctor will discuss the report with you, sir,” the lab assistant told me.
“You can tell me,” I said. “I can handle it. My mother has cancer.”
 “It’s cancer.”
The diagnosis hit me, and I had no idea how my life and I were about to change.

I shared the news with my wife, father and daughter, then just six. I couldn’t help crying as I considered writing a goodbye letter for Sanaa. I thought about making provisions for the family. Then there were the more mundane things as well. What happens to my newspaper column? I’d been contributing a fortnightly personal finance column to The Times of India. I e-mailed the concerned editor about my situation. I also sent her a few columns to run while I was in treatment. In effect, I accepted I had cancer, but it wasn’t going to throttle me.

Two days after the diagnosis, my ulcer was surgically removed. I recovered quickly, but Mummy passed away soon. Thankfully, she never learnt of my illness. But for the regular check-ups, life returned to normal. A few months on, at my father’s insistence, I went to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for a second opinion. They now found cancer in the lymph nodes in my neck! 

Read the full article in 'Viva Goa' magazine copy.
Viva Goa magazine is now on stands. Available at all major book stalls and supermarkets in Goa.

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