I am an extrovert, love talking to like-minded people, enjoy my space with my kind of music, a responsible homemaker and above all a strict mom. Being very time conscious, I drive my husband and my daughter to adhere to timelines which sometimes gets to them however the end result is fruitful so no qualms. I devote most of my time in nurturing my daughter to grow into a responsible and successful individual.
I was born into a typical middle class family where luxury was a far cry. My dad was a government employee and my mom a teacher. Being convent bred made me a disciplined and a well-spoken student. I was artistically inclined and loved to paint.
I was an introvert when I was younger and kept to my set of friends. I graduated in science and joined a reputed computer training institute for a three year computer course.
I had good presentation skills which lead to my selection as a trainer in an organization which was into soft skills training. I loved my job since it was very interactive, engrossing and dealt with human behaviour. Next I joined another start-up company training government employees and private sector on self-development, communication skills and customer skills. My job took me to many places in Karnataka and in turn met a lot of people. My last job was that of an experiential learning faculty where I had to process human interaction when put in different situations in the environment. Here too it was a personal learning experience for me since perceptions differ from every individual and our ability to respect and not react to views increases.
I got married in 2006 to a great individual who was very different from me and moulded me into better individual. I gave birth to a brown eyed beautiful girl who brought loads of joy and love. This was a picture perfect life till disaster struck us.
It was summer of 2011. I was very excited to visit my mom’s place for vacation. My daughter Dia was going to play home then. We did lot of roaming around and spending time with my parents. But something was bothering me. My right leg was hurting me on and off. I just brushed it aside like as if the pain did not exist. But as days passed by the pain started aggravating. I decided it’s time I visited an Orthopaedic surgeon.
As a ritual, I went through an MRI of my right leg. The doctor diagnosed it as a Giant Cell Tumour(GCT). He said I needed a surgery. Within a week I went under the knife with no further delay. They had extracted the tumour which was a size of a TT ball and sent it for biopsy. Meanwhile I returned to my home and we awaited the results with fingers crossed. Oh! How could I forget that day. The doctor had called my husband to visit him and said he had to talk to him in person. With his heart pounding and dryness in his mouth, my husband’s world came crashing down when the doctor said that I had OsteoSarcoma.
The first thing which struck my mind was “Impossible” and “Not me”. I can’t get this disease which people call CANCER. It took me or rather my near and dear ones to accept the fact. Next day when I went to meet my doctor and he briefed me about my journey through 6 cycles of painful chemotherapy plus surgery to clear up the remaining infected tissues, I came across to him as a person who was very brave and strong headed human. Little did I know that it is easier said than done.
Then the rigmarole of tests, injections, doctors, hospitals, began. With my leg still healing from the surgery and me limping on my walker, I suddenly became so very dependent, especially on my husband and parents. My daughter had no clue what was happening to her mom for all she saw was relatives and friends visiting to assure me that all will be fine and I will come through this tough time. Each chemo session was for four days with an interval of 25 days. Well, the first chemo went on well and I responded well. Minimal side effects and I was able to do my regular chores. My confidence level still intact.
Then came the second cycle of chemo. Day 1 they injected the medicine and I was waiting for the reaction to happen. And oh boy! By day 3 I was nauseating and feeling as if I woke up with a bad hangover. My platelet count shot down rapidly and fluids were pumped into me. By day 4 when I returned home all I remember was throwing up every two minutes, even water. I had to be rushed back to the hospital for more saline. Then the side effects grew by the day. Severe mouth sores, constipation, pounding headache, loss of appetite, dizziness, low blood count etc. But of all the most emotional moment was when I lost all my hair in a fastest span of two days. That day I cried my heart out. Could not stand the sight of my bald face in front of the mirror. Could I look so scary and ugly? Can things get so bad or is there more to come? Will I even make it??? The confidence level with which I started this journey dropped by some notches.
The doctors kept reviewing my situation and had nothing much to say. They wanted me to complete 6 cycles and then see if the efforts had paid off. My 3, 4, 5 cycles were very painful and tiring mentally and physically for me and my husband, daughter and my parents. Trying to keep a balance between home, work and me was a biggest task for my husband. But till the end he stayed very grounded and confident. There were days when I could not bear the pain and I told my husband to allow me to pass. But he pushed in all the strength and courage into me though he was the one who needed it the most. I skipped my last chemo as I could no longer take the trauma.
Then 9 months passed by, my hair started growing back, my health showed signs of improvement, things looked a little brighter. I spend all my time with my husband daughter and dear friends. The feeling when you long for something which you think you will never get and it comes back to you is speechless!
Then in September 2012 the pain returned. Is it back?? No, please not again, I can’t be twice unlucky. But yes, my scan report showed that the dreaded disease has spread entirely to my right leg(below knee) and to my lungs. The pain was extreme. High dosages of painkillers were administered however the relief was temporary. The final call had to be taken. AMPUTATION of right leg above knee.
Mid December 2012 was the chosen date when a part of my self would be detached forever. What do I do? Life or leg? The answer to the question seemed easy then. Finally after couple of hours of surgery my leg was gone! After regaining consciousness, my brain still believed that my right leg was very much with the body. It transmitted signals as always. But what I experienced was pain. PHANTOM pain. Electric currents passing through my stump, numbness etc. Took couple of months for it to die down. During that phase, my dependency level shot up big time. I needed someone always next to me. Oh that feeling. Pathetic. Feeling worthless to my family. Do I have to live a disabled life forever. With all these negative feelings cluttering my head, my ray of hope or should I say my goal in life was my Dia. As her name suggests she was the guiding light and made me realise that all was not lost yet. I can live my life being there for her, in her journey of life.
Next came my phase of getting back on my feet. I had to get a prosthetic leg and train to walk with it. That came with its own challenges. That’s when I realised how beautiful our body was and how well it performs without any ‘technical snag’. By mid-2013, I learnt to walk with the assistance of a walking stick. Then, I started running temperature on and off with mild bouts of cough. Nothing serious right. Hospital visits became regular. I recouped in a day or two at the hospital and back home. But after couple of days the cycle continued. Even doctors were unable to diagnose what was happening. By November, things got worse. I was literally living in the hospital and visiting my home for couple of days. My family was almost stationed there. I missed my daughter’s entire senior KG year. Not even visited her school for a single day. I was getting weaker and weaker. My internal organs were giving up. Finally, a team of doctors found out that I had a heart infection which in turn was affecting my kidneys and lungs. With no time to waste they sprung into action and started administering high doses of antibiotics. That lasted for a month. The medication made me weak and frail. Then the final test that is PET scan was conducted. The stress and anxiety level had hit an all-time high. You guessed it right . I was FREE OF CANCER.
Our joy and peace of mind came back which I thought would pass with me when I am gone.
The last two years has been great. I am back on my feet, going places, riding my bike which I love to, taking care of my family, watching my daughter grow into a beautiful young girl full of dreams and hopes, being there for my husband as always, making new friends and seeing the world in a new light.
I would end this story with the learnings of my experience in the last 4 years or so. We all are special and perfect in our own ways. All have disabilities in one form or other. It can be mental or physical. But it’s only when we face tough situation you will turn your weakness to strength and grow into a better human being. You will realise what matters and what does not. You will empathise with people who are less fortunate and thank life for what it offers you!
Keep soaring high!
Article curated and edited for IWI: Rhiti Bose