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'Let Not Cancer Crush You'

Times of India
03 June 2010
Hyderabad, India

Survivors Recall Their Fight Back To Health
Twelve–year–old Abhiram, a class topper, was diagnosed with third stage Hodgkin's Lymphoma when he was six. It took two years of excruciating struggle for the youngster to come out of this rare form of cancer. Abhiram was one among the several cancer survivors gathered at a platform to share their tales of struggle and triumph at the ‘I am a survivor,’ a twoday festival here on Wednesday.

The festival, organised in line with the World Cancer Survivor’s Day, which falls on June 6, had ‘There is life after cancer,’ as its motto. Abhiram’s mother Radhika Anand’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled his trials and tribulations at a young age. "Nothing gives me greater happiness than the glint in his eye as he packs his bag to go to school," she says.

An Apollo Cancer Hospital’s initiative, the event unravelled stories of several cancer survivors who now lead a near–normal life. Take for instance 34–year–old Jyothi Prasad, a customer care manager. Married with two children, Jyothi was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Though she first despaired asking "Why did I get cancer when I lead a healthy normal life?’’ two years later, her outlook towards life has changed.

"It took me one year to come out of the traumatic phase. I lost my long hair and put on lot of weight due to the medication. After attending these meetings of cancer support groups, I realised that my sufferings were minuscule compared to those of several others," said Jyothi who resumed work two months after surgery. While the health insurance from the company helped her pay the bills, her employers supported her by letting her take six days off from work for every chemotherapy cycle.

Like Jyothi, many survivors are happy to help other cancer patients. Mahrukh Sheikh, 40, who survived brain tumour, began to visit Apollo Hospital seeking to lift the veil of despondency that can so easily fall on cancer patients. Sheikh claims that her husband’s constant support and counselling induced a positive attitude that helped her through several chemotherapy and radiation sessions. Cancer patients can take courage from G Radha, a teacher who fought breast cancer and stayed active by pursuing her passions of painting, embroidery and also learnt driving during her therapy period.

Oncologists stress that such meets are especially relevant now when cancer cases are on the rise. "Most patients are anxious about costs, possibility of recovery, the side effects involved and even wonder whether they should undergo the arduous treatment. But it is very important to know that, if detected early, the disease can be cured," said Dr Mohana Vamsi of Indo–American Cancer Hospital.

Dr P Vijayanand Reddy of Apollo Hospital further added, "When the assurance of cure comes directly from the survivors, it makes a greater impact than the doctor’s assurance." The festival, open to all the cancer survivors, will conclude on Thursday.

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