P K MamThe dreadful disease – when It knocks at one’s door at 1st or 2nd or 3rd stage, one does not know!! Timely screening can help to detect cancers earlier, which can cut down the cost of treatment, preserve quality of life and save a life.YesteryearsStretching my memory back to 5 decades -Oct 1970. I accompanied my father (aged 51 year) at Tata Research Institute for treatment of throat cancer. He was advised to undergo a Radiation therapy course at weekly intervals for 2 months. He had successfully completed 5 cycles, but 6th sitting failed because of excess dosage administered which ultimately proved fatal. 3 months approx time was given for his survival. We were left defeated, dispirited and helpless as hopes of recovery were dashed. I was witness to all this at the young age of 21 years.I was personally called by Director of Institute Dr Paymaster who explained the unfortunatefailure of 6th cycle due to excess dosage of therapy despite best efforts to set it right. He advised Chemotherapyas, an advanced treatment option which was not available in our country at that time.He handed me a discharge document and advised me to make peace with the realities. Dad was prescribed pain killers like Novalgine, Pethidine injection, some other kind of Morphine tablet as SOS to overcome pain. A photo of Jesus Christ for seeking blessings for recovery was handed over to Dad. Seeing me depressed with tears trickling down my cheeks, he consoled me. He showed me the letterhead of Tata Institute, that read as ‘Dr Borges Marg, Parel, Bombay.’ He explained to me that Dr Borges was the first director of Tata Institute, who while treating hundreds of patients, became himself victim of this disease, and in his memory the road has been dedicated by the Govt.Seeing countless patients at Tata Institute, males and females and of all ages forming a beeline for treatment, was an eye opener for me. I realised that I was not the only unlucky one to seek treatment of my Dad for this incurable disease, but there were many others too, bound by Karma cycle to meet the same fate.On return from Bombay to my home in Srinagar (Kashmir).Dad was now dependent on pain killer-tablets. The pain got worse each day , with the pain killers giving only temporary relief. It was heartbreaking to see Dad enduring so much pain.So much so that he wanted to be set free by embracing death!Relatives and friends consoled us,saying…‘God is the author of life and life is God’s gift to us. And miracles may happen as well. Keep faith in Almighty and believe in the healing power of prayer’.Even great saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa did face the agony time bravely through Sadhna and reached Maha Samadhi when doctors failed to cure him.It was howevernature’s big relief that this disease is not infectious, like TB, HIV, Smallpox. So, he could be well taken care of by his family .It is a hard fact that we go through deepest agony when the patients in terminal stages seek help and we are left with nothing in our capacity to save such patients from agonising end.Ultimately, he bade goodbye to this mortal world in July 1971.At presentOver the years, medical science has seen revolutionary change in the treatment of Cancer, in terms of much advanced diagnostic tests/ palliative care and support/ mass awareness/ pain management concepts. Yet it is far away to free the patients from clutches of suffering in the event of failure of recovery.The change in life styles like, eatables, smoking, unhygienic methods resulting in cervical cancer in women, overall lack of immunity due to malnutrition, adulteration, pollution in air, water, overburdened hospitals, shortage of technically advanced hospitals, commercialisation of treatment by unethical practices are vital areas, which need constant attention by Govt as well as society to curb spread of disease.As per latest report, the breakthrough achieved in treatment by way of Immune therapy will take 10 more years to be introduced in India. Even if the cure was on account of nature therapies, it still counts as a miracle because real doctors cannot explain it.Yes.. Pain management specialist are now there, and researchers are finding medical Marijuana to give substantial pain relief to cancer patients. We cannot think of any cure from cancer unless we timely utilise medical know how and take medication & utilise the modern technology available to stop this disease at the earliest.Points to ponder.During this period, the availability of medical, financial, social, emotional, spiritual & support is craved by all concerned – but above all, one’s perseverance to work harder and Stay positive, Will power, Unshakable faith to smile even through pain/ agony helps immensely to keep him in good stead. Anyone who has faced life threatening disease will tell you, what keeps you awake at night is not the thought of another round of chemotherapy but the fear that you are alone.It is not just disease or death that one tries to escape, it is deadliness! Uncertainty remains the only certainty.We all possess natural instincts, initiative, and creativity for existence. We have to pick ourselves up and force ourselves to continue by availing opportunities through intelligence, application of mind, courage and knowledge.Lastly, we cannot imagine any sort of recovery without medicines. Yet, we witness too, miraculous process of healing in some cases. Particularly, when we know that we have no control over things, we want to hold on hope. Such revelations do baffle us and prove that our world is full of magic and wonder. Maybe we have lost our ability to believe and our patience to explore beyond the known.In sum, both medicines and miracles (Dawa & Dua) are there. It is a real challenge for the medical science to triumph over cancer. A lot of work is being done for its timely diagnosis and effective treatment globally!‘Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength,’ ( Roosevelt).
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