I did not know that the only symptoms of cancer could be fatigueThree years ago, I was content with my life with my wife, Sridevi, my daughter, and my parents. I had a modest income to support my family. Our life turned topsy-turvy when I went to the doctor because I felt I was tired.
There was vigorous coughing and sweating and my family wanted me to get checked by a doctor. The doctors saw a big drop in the WBC. They also found slight infection in the lungs.
Doctors immediately suggested I get admitted in a hospital. It was very difficult to find out what was wrong with me. After carrying out tests for a week, they found that I had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a severe blood cancer. I was shaken from within. More than death what I feared was my family ending up on streets if I didn’t live.
My parents and wife were shattered and didn’t know how to deal with it. I knew I had to fight back. Doctors told me that I had high-risk cancer. I started my chemotherapy. After a year of treatment, doctors said that I was fine and cancer-free. But after the harsh treatment, my bones were so weak, I could barely stand. My body had not even recovered from the chemotherapy effects when I had to undergo an operation for bone restoration.
The relapse was worse than I could handleTwo years after the operation, I started having severe leg pain and headaches. Visit to the doctor again took away the ground from beneath my foot. My WBC count had risen to 137 (normal range - 4-10). My cancer came back haunting me.
I was admitted immediately to the hospital and was given high-level chemotherapy. After a few days, tests revealed that my kidneys were failing. Due to the aggressive chemo, there were chemicals choking my kidneys.
Complications kept arising in my cancer treatmentChemotherapy was stopped for a few days to clear the kidneys. Three days before restarting the treatment, doctors observed that my WBC had alarmingly dropped to 100 (normal range - 5,000-10,000).
I started getting admitted to the hospital more frequently. My work took a backseat. I tried to continue working from home. My salary was reduced and I started having a tough time maintaining my family. I wasn’t paid for the times that I couldn’t work.
My daughter is just in the second standard. She misses me too much. But more importantly, I am missing out on important years of her life. All the times, I return from the hospital, it seems that she has grown up in my absence.
My poor parents have lost 2 children in the last 4 years - I may just become the thirdMy parents are too old and it is very difficult for them to see me suffering. In the past 4 years, my parents have lost their 2 other sons. My younger brother died due to a lung disease and my elder brother died due to heart failure.
After a gap of 6 years, Sridevi started working again. I tell her that I might not live. She has to take care of herself and our daughter. She sometimes just wants to quit her job and take care of me. She is too worried but never says anything.
I have seen the darkest side of lifeIt’s difficult when I am kept away from people in the private ward. I want to be around people in the general ward who are struggling with cancer. Seeing people struggle gives me a greater urge to live - I feel less alone.
So what if my cancer has relapsed? I am determined never to give up. My wife gets a little hope when she sees my confidence. I tell my family that I can die of any disease, but I refuse to surrender to cancer.
This is my last chance to live. Only a bone-marrow transplant can help me live now. I want to live so that I can return all the help that I am getting now. If I live, I will quit my job and work towards giving mental stability to those who think they are dying.
In the last 3 years, I have spent Rs 20 lakhs. Last time, when I was admitted to the hospital I spent Rs 7 lakh in a month. I have used up everything that I had. My friends have helped me a lot and now even they don’t have money.
How can you help?A bone-marrow transplant is the only answer to beat cancer. But the cost required to win over cancer is Rs 15 lakhs. I have no money now to live.
Your support can save Lakshmikanth