Tryst with the killer (Cancer)

Anuprita Ghaisas on how she overcame her worst nightmare—cancer

illustrationWhat started as a minor health hitch turned into a full-blown nightmare for 58-year-old Anuprita Ghaisas, when she noticed some bleeding in her stools.

Thinking that it was probably because of the spicy food she had been having, she resolved to cut down on the spices. Sure that it would seal the issue, she went on a low-spice diet.

So when she noticed the red blob again in a few days, she was surprised. "It wasn't a lot of blood, maybe a spoonful, but there it was again. And I got a little concerned and decided to keep a close watch," she remembers.

In just a few months following her initial discovery, the frequency of bleeding increased. She suspected it to be piles and to avoid undergoing surgery, she consulted an ayurvedic doctor.

"I couldn't afford to undergo surgery; my son was to be married in a few months and there were a thousand things to do. So I consulted an ayurvedic doctor. The doctor put me on a month-long course."

But even after a month, her symptoms persisted. So she went for a second opinion, this time to a general surgeon, who suggested immediate surgery for piles.

"And without any blood or urine tests, purely on the basis of physical examination, he operated on me.

At the time I didn't realise what was happening—I was in a hurry and had little time left before my son's marriage, so I agreed. In hindsight, I wonder how he didn't find anything wrong even while operating on me. Perhaps, I was destined to suffer," she rues.

Back then, she was relieved to have finally tackled the problem. She had no idea how wrong she was.

Soon, the problem reared its ugly head again. This time she really got worried. Confused and unable to understand why her condition did not improve despite several rounds to the doctors, she consulted her family doctor.

Since the bleeding was painless and nothing improved her condition, the doctor suggested that she consult an oncologist to rule out malignancy. "That really shook me up. But somewhere I thought 'God would not let that happen to me'," she said.

With a pounding heart, she visited an oncosurgeon. "When she came to me she was scared and depressed. She required a lot of counseling and encouragement to even do the investigations.

On examination, there was no obvious growth but on doing colonoscopy, there was a huge growth in the rectum. Now, everything depended on the results of the biopsy," recalls Anil Heroor, consultant oncosurgeon, Fortis Hospital.

To her and her family's dismay, the biopsy came positive. Anuprita had cancer."When the diagnosis was confirmed I was shattered. I remained that way for some time all the while thinking why did it happen to me?

Perhaps, I had some bad karma that I had to pay for. Then, I came to terms with it and decided to fight it out. I had faith that my Guru would help me through this," says she.

Naturally, Anuprita's family was devastated too. They felt they had lost a lot of valuable time andunfortunately, they were right. But the team at the hospital counselled her and impressed upon her that all was not lost and they could treat the cancer successfully with surgery.

With just a month left for her son's marriage, Anuprita agreed for the surgery. Her family stood by her like a rock and gave her the much-needed love and support.

After further investigations to confirm that she was fit to undergo the treatment, the team decided to operate upon her.

"The operation done was 'Laparoscopic assisted anterior resection', which helped us save her rectum. The diseased part of the rectum was removed along with normal surrounding margins so that we were sure that all of cancer was removed," explains Heroor.

The surgery used many advanced techniques like staplers, which help in saving the rectum, advanced laparoscopic instruments like ultracision scalpel, which cut and control bleeding and state-of-the-art laparoscopy equipment. The doctor explained that this helped in faster recovery than the conventional method and use of less painkillers. It also takes less time to heal.

"The first time I met Dr Heroor, I knew in my heart that I have come to the right place. His pleasant demeanor and smiling face soothed my fears. My family's support gave the strength, my folks took care of me and all the arrangements.

Exactly a month after my surgery, my son got married. In fact, those who didn't know about my surgery, didn't notice a thing," she smiles.

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