By Chandrika R Krishnan
I am a survivor of many things. I have had long-term psoriasis and thyroid imbalance. In 2011, I had L4-L5 lumbar decompression surgery, which takes four to six weeks to heal and to get back to one’s normal way of life. Then in 2014, I had a brush with cancer that came out of the blue and left me changed inside out.
It was January 2014 and I was 48 when my hitherto well-behaved uterus started behaving badly. I had on-and-off bleeding, which doctors assigned to pre-menopause. But one doctor, who had an eye on me ever since my sister had breast cancer, was not happy. She sent my blood tissues for a biopsy, and wham! It was adenoacanthoma of the endometrium, according to the report.
My first thought was, “Thank God it’s not carcinoma,” until Google Uncle put my hope to rest. It was Type 2 cancer, an aggressive variant, but thankfully caught at the first stage.
Read also: Why More Women Have Cancer Than Men in India
My biopsy was taken on Thursday, January 16th. The results were out on 18th, other tests conducted on 19th, the doctor’s appointment on 20th, hospital admission on 21st and surgery on 22nd.
In less than a week, I no longer had my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
I developed a post-surgery setback and the only way I could get back on my feet was due to my family. Their firmness – particularly in making me walk in the corridor to hasten my recovery despite my reluctance due to the pain – made me name my husband Hitler and son Junior Hitler. My daughter, bless her soul, pleaded with me to do the same because the doctors had recommended it.
Then came brachytherapy (radiation), which was even more painful. My son ensured that I had one coconut water while going to the hospital and one on the way back because an ayah (cleaner) in the hospital told him it would help me heal! My parents and siblings were there throughout with their encouragement and support too.
What helped me at the hospital was my sneaking a peek at the other patients’ records on the nurses’ station to note their age and telling myself, “Thank God, I have grown-up children.”
The woman in the bed neighbouring mine was dying leaving behind a 13-year-old, and I could hear another one in my ward telling her child on the phone, “Eat, complete your homework, don’t trouble dadi, mummy will be back soon.”
Was I afraid? You bet I was. Each checkup even now has me shitting bricks.
But more than afraid, I am so, so grateful. Grateful that I got cancer in an organ that could be removed. Grateful for doctors, family and friends who drove across town to donate blood. Grateful for prayers of random well-wishers – I was particularly touched when a neighbourhood auto driver went to light a candle in Infant Jesus Church and gave my husband a rose to keep under my pillow for my quick recovery.
Like everything else I’d survived, I survived cancer too. Then in 2018, I broke a leg. But I’ll save that for another story!
As an educationist and writer, I have written a lot of articles about education, schooling and parenting. I thought (quite erroneously) that I was quite an awesome parent! It was only later that I realised that children do grow up and become their own person irrespective of parenting! Jokes apart, my stint with cancer gave me enough reasons to believe that my children have turned out to be awesome adults, responsible, loving, caring individuals and I am proud of them.
There is a lot to learn and a lot to achieve, and I am perfectly content with the way my life has been so far. Yes, I had my challenges but they have only strengthened me and taught me to be grateful for my blessings.
For instance, because of my past health history, I am counted among the smaller section of India’s population who are below 60 years of age and permitted to go for Covid vaccination in Phase II along with senior citizens. I just got my vaccination this week – well ahead of my peers. It’s enough reason to celebrate!
Chandrika R Krishnan is a Bengaluru-based writer and educationist with 200-odd published articles and stories. She is the author of the short story ‘The Allure of Power’ in the anthology Everything Changed After That: 25 Women, 25 Stories (Embassy Books). Buy it on Amazon.