Power of a positive Mindset – Mehul
A positive mindset can do wonders for anyone.
I am a stage IV cancer survivor and my journey has not been easy. I almost met death, but I was adamant to live. I never fell short of dreaming and hoping to live life to the fullest once the terrible treatment phase was over. I never thought I could be this strong, but I was amazed to find the required courage to beat cancer at its own game.
I got married to my childhood sweetheart and we lived a happy life. She was part of a software company and I worked in the nocturnal world of Tele-calling. Working as a team lead takes a toll on you. On top of that, I was reckless and never gave enough importance to my health. I would smoke up a pack, was addicted to drinking, and never touched healthy food even by mistake.
Soon enough, karma caught up. My wife left for the United States for an opportunity and I was in India while we worked out the logistics for me to travel. I was living alone, and realized my voice was getting hoarse. I had trouble breathing and had difficulty sleeping on my back. I started losing weight at a drastic rate. I did not pay much heed to the situation. I went to a regular physician and he diagnosed a sore throat and prescribed antibiotics. As things got worse, he changed the prescribed medicine to no avail.
As my health worsened, I went to my parent’s house to get some rest. However, when my mother heard me breathing, she understood that something was gravely wrong. I went to a specialist and underwent an endoscopy. I had stage IV cancer and it took me by surprise.
Shock and More Shock
I was completely in shock and it was a time of utter distress. From a person who was reckless and lived alone, I now had to be taken care of. Plus, my whole life was at risk. When I heard that I had a tumor on my right vocal cord, I went into denial. I cried my eyes out for 2 days, thinking about my family and the painful life that lay ahead. But then I asked myself, is there a point in crying and victimizing yourself? It was time for me to pull up my socks and fight out the long battle.
The road to treatment was painful and took a lot of courage and will power. The first line of treatment in tumors of this type is to remove the vocal cord, which would mean that I would lose my voice and breath through a stoma. But hey, I might live. However, my wife had other plans. She wanted to take a second opinion and reached out to various oncologists at the Cancer Hospital in Columbus.
She managed to get an appointment at The James Cancer Hospital, and I flew to the US for my treatment. On my way, there were so many thoughts, will I ever be able to come back, will I ever be able to see my parents again …will I survive?
By the time the doctors in Columbus started the treatment, we discovered that the cancer had spread and had grown around the spine. So, surgery was out of the question. The only hope was chemotherapy. To be honest, this period proved to be the darkest period of life. Pain, uneasiness, and again the threat that I may not live to see another day, was overwhelming.
The Long Road to Treatment
Chemotherapy is not easy, and it sucks out the proverbial marrow from your life. My cancer was already at the advanced stages, which made the treatment plan excessively harsh. There were rounds and rounds of chemotherapy. My team of doctors indicated that I had a 30% percent chance of making it. Another complication was that either the tumor needed to shrink away from the spine. Thankfully the chemo was successful but there were still traces of cancer cells. So Chemo was followed by Radiation + additional rounds of Chemo.
Some side effects like hair fall, burnt patches of skin, and weight loss, were a constant companion during the treatment. Although this was physically exhausting, I can’t stress less on the toll it took on me and my family. Some effects have stayed on post treatment. All molars that were in the line of radiation were extracted. Over a short period of time after I lost all my teeth I had to get implants done to be able to chew on foods. One of my vocal cords is paralyzed, so I speak with only one. I cannot run as I am afraid; I will topple over. Seems like there is a loss of connection between my brain and my limbs. There is a constant ringing in my ears (Tinnitus).
Mental Health and Support
When I first understood the gravity of the situation, I was shell-shocked. But, after quite a few days, I understood that I need to be positive. I started by learning more about my situation. After all, if you are not aware of your enemy, how will you fight it out? Reading more about it, helped me understand that trust in the treatment and strong will power could help me stay afloat.
I also want to stress the role of family and friends. If my wife hadn’t been so courageous and had not taken care of me, I wouldn’t have been here. She was the messiah in my life. After Chemotherapy, when the pain was worse, I would throw tantrums and be aggressive, but she would always patiently handle it. She would also clean up my wounds along with balancing her work. I can’t thank her enough.
Cancer has changed my mind set; it has helped me to be grateful for the little things in life. Around the time I was undergoing treatment, I lost two close friends, one to suicide and the other to a road accident. These incidents made me appreciate the gift of life. All in all, I started being grateful every day that I get to see my family and live another day.
Life After Defeating Cancer
After I beat cancer, it was not an easy journey. The pain, mental stress, and money did take a toll on me and my family. And even after six years, I would still have to deal with its side effects. But all is well when it ends well. However, I am always cautious and have started to lead a healthy lifestyle that helps me recover better.
On the professional front I work as a fraud investigator in one of the big corporations and it has been a wonderful journey. I also devote time to debunk myths on cancer and spread cancer awareness among students and others.
There are a few things that I would want to make clear. Most cancers can be cured. If you have the right resources, a positive mindset, and faith in your team of doctors, you can win this battle. All you gotta do is, stay focused on life after you have recovered from cancer. Avoid lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking. It is not worth so much pain.