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Survivors Offer Hope to People Living With Cancer

Times of India
06 June 2011
Chennai, India

International Day for Cancer
The seminar hall at the Madras Medical College echoed with applause on Sunday when a 55-year-old cancer survivor sang for the gathering at a meeting organised by the Gastrointestinal Patient Support Group to observe International Day for Cancer. She underwent radiation therapy for neck tumour more than five years ago.

The woman, who had been singing in church since childhood, thought the change in her voice was part of ageing. But when she began bleeding from the nose, she met the doctor. "I did not believe it when I was told I had cancer. I was not willing to undergo surgery and radiation because I was scared it would change my voice. It did not," she said.

On Sunday, she was invited by the Gastrointestinal Patient Support Group to share her experience with others recently detected with cancer. When she sang her favourite hymn, many patients applauded.

Many among the gathering had several questions. "I don’t smoke or drink. Why did I get cancer?" said a retired engineer. A patient from Bhavani in Erode district wanted to know if chemotherapy after surgery was painful.

Government General Hospital chief surgical gastroenterologist Dr SM Chandramohan said he had operated on a 86-year-old patient several years ago. "With today’s advances, surgeries can be done at any age. Though the risk levels are higher for smokers, even those without the habit are vulnerable to the disease," he said.

After the meeting, many learnt that early identification of cancer pushes up the survival rate. "Cancer turned my life into a roller coaster ride. I was devastated and thought my life was over. I feel extremely encouraged to fight it now," said one.

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