"My children ask me a lot of questions when I go for chemotherapy. I see the hidden fear in those questions. But, unfortunately, all I can do is console them. I hope these treatments work well so I can live long enough to take care of my children till they can manage to do things on their own. I want nothing else and can bear any amount of pain and suffering for this." - Tai Wakale, breaking down in tears
A normal feeling lump turned out to be something far dangerousTai Wakale and her husband Pandit Wakale lived a humble life with their two children. Pandit Wakale worked in a printing press and earned just enough for them to keep food on the table and manage the schooling of his two children. All was going well for them when misfortune struck. Tai used to often feel a lump in her breast. Initially, she ignored it as her mother and other people told her that it was probably related to the fact that she had stopped breastfeeding her son. Her son was 4-years-old and this explanation made sense to her.
"The lump kept growing for 3 years and became painful. That's when I figured something was seriously wrong. I consulted a nearby doctor who prescribed some medicines which did not help. So finally I went to a specialist who examined me thoroughly and suggested a mammography (an X-ray of the breast). When the reports came back, we were left shell-shocked. The doctor told us that I had breast cancer and referred me to a cancer hospital for further treatment. I couldn't come to terms with what had happened." - Tai Wakale
The anticipation of the outcome of the disease was keeping her awake at nightThe doctors at the cancer hospital conducted a biopsy and also asked them to get a PET scan done which would tell them about the possible spread of the cancer in her body. Luck was in Tai's favor this time as the cancer was limited to her breasts and armpits. Though it was a sigh of relief, the road ahead seemed uphill and full of pain and anxiety.
"We had tears in our eyes when the doctors told us that the cancer had not spread in her body and it was possible to treat it by chemotherapy and surgery. In the last 3 months, this was the first apparent good news that we had heard. But, the cost of treatment was our next concern as we did not have much savings." - Pandit Wakale, husband
The expected cost of treatment was too much for them to affordThe doctors told them that she would need 9 cycles of chemotherapy after which they would assess the condition again and plan for surgical removal of the cancer. They somehow arranged the money for the first three cycles of chemotherapy with the help of friends and colleagues, but that help has run out now.
"Each chemotherapy cycle costs 28,000 rupees. We somehow managed three cycles, but now we have nothing left. The estimated cost for the entire treatment is 6 lakh rupees, which we cannot arrange by any means. I fear that something terrible might happen if we run out of time. This thought troubles me every second of the day." - Pandit Wakale
The pain of chemotherapy and worry for her children have consumed herTai experiences intense pain during chemotherapy cycles and describes the feeling as similar to a hot burning liquid being pushed into her veins. She has lost her hair to the treatment and feels extremely weak and drained out. Despite of that, she puts up a brave front and tells her children everything is going to be fine.
"I still can't believe that I am suffering from this disease. Not even in my most fearsome dream did this ever come across. But, here I am wondering whether or not I will be there when my young son graduates. I wish I could turn back time and set this right." - Tai, with a grim look on her face
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