“My name is Elizabeth. I am 56 years old, a teacher by profession and a cancer survivor by attitude.”
I want to share my story to encourage others who are affected by this disease.
I was a normal, healthy, active person just going about my regular routine when I was struck with this disease. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the month of July, after I suddenly started bleeding and the biopsy report confirmed that I had squamous cell carcinoma. Just like anyone else knowing that I had the big ‘C’ terrified me first. Once it sunk in, I realised that I had to accept it and see what had to be done. Breaking the news to my family and a few close friends was the hardest thing to do. I found then, that I was stronger than most of them as they were the ones who broke down and I had to console them saying that it would all be fine.
My gynaecologist suggested that I go to Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital for treatment. What followed the diagnosis was a number of tests to see if the cancer has spread. Luckily the tumour was limited to just one part of the body. After almost a month of tests and preparation, my Doctor said that we could start the treatment which would be 5 chemotherapies, once every week followed by 28 radiations on all weekdays and then 4 internal radiations. This was a lot to take in! I had to prepare myself mentally. I cried out to God like we all do in times of trouble. I asked for strength and resilience to take the treatment. I knew I had the will and the positive attitude but only He could give me the strength to fight the disease.
A lot of people suggested I go to Hyderabad or Vellore for treatment. They said the hospitals here are not equipped to handle cancer. After I met the doctors at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, I felt confident that I could get the best treatment here. Besides, I wanted to be close to home as it would be more convenient and comfortable for me and my family.
My treatment started on 1st August. It was quite overwhelming to see the vast number of patients with different forms of cancer, but almost 80% of the patients looked most normal. I was amazed at how kind and patient all the staff at the hospital were, right from the front office, to the PR’s to the nurses, technicians and even the helper staff. They were always smiling and never got irritated in spite of the many queries the patients had or the numerous times they never followed instructions.
The treatment per se is not painful at all. There are side effects and after effects that one has to face. Medicines are given to see that you are comfortable. The Doctors always attend to your calls in case of any emergency at any time.
I, personally was able to get through my treatment because of my positive attitude and will power, the loving support of family and friends, good nutrition consisting of plenty of fruits, fruit juices, greens and vegetables (My husband ensured that I was eating well) , prayers of family and friends, for I believe that God is the ultimate healer and of course the good medical treatment at the hospital.
Finally, without many hiccups, my treatment was completed on 11th October. It was a big relief to finish the treatment. The Doctor then advised me to take rest for 6 weeks and to take a pet scan again after 3 months. 6 weeks later, I started going to work for a couple of hours. My employers were very kind and understanding and allowed me to work at very flexible timings.
On 3rd January, I had a PET scan and the report was good. The Doctor checked me and told me that I was disease free! A few words of advice from the Doctor and I walked out of the hospital with the biggest smile on my face. My next check up is again after three months.
I have realised some very important things... It is very important to have regular checkups. We must also make it a point to eat healthy, exercise for at least 20 minutes a day and always be grateful for what you have.
I would like to tell everyone.. Cancer is not the end of life. It is like an obstacle that comes to some people. Just like you try to overcome an obstacle, you should face it, fight it and overcome it!