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Home News and Update Year 2010 Smiling Through the Worst of Times

Smiling Through the Worst of Times

Times of India
5 February 2010
By Sumati Yengkhom & Prithvijit Mitra

Roma Majumder with her Husband
At 65, Roma Majumdar is a fighter. The former accountant with a PSU underwent a breast cancer surgery in 1997. The painful rounds of radio and chemotherapy and a second cancer attack have taken a toll on her. But she refuses to give up. Majumdar, in fact, has thrown open the gates of her Behala home to hundreds of other cancer patients. She counsels them and shares their anguish.

“To tell you the truth, I was not shattered when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. It became easier with my husband providing support,” said Roma.

It was during her visits to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) for painful chemo and radiotherapy rounds that Roma and husband Ramesh came across poor cancer patients who did not even have money to buy medicines. Roma told Dr Subir Ganguly, who was then with CMCH, that she wanted to lessen the agony of fellow cancer patients. She and her retired state electricity board officer husband started buying medicines for the poor. Roma also attends various cancer awareness camps where she stresses on prevention, early detection and speaks on the symptoms of breast cancer.

“My journey to live on with cancer and my efforts to reach out to helpless cancer patients started this way. It helps me relieve my own pain and anguish,” says Roma, who has cancer of the collar bone.

Rendered feeble by the second attack, she rarely accompanies her husband to counselling camps and restricts herself to sessions at home. But she retains her fighting spirit. “As long as I go on, I will continue to fight against cancer. It is a tough battle but one that can be fought,” Roma says.

Fifteen–year–old Mohammed Rasool craves to return to his school at Mymensingh in Bangladesh. He misses his friends Akhtar, Nasim and Irfan. But doctors at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute (NSCBCRI) believe he might have to wait for several more months – if his stem cell transfer proves successful. Rasool, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is optimistic. The kid always has a ready smile.

“The last one–and–half years have been traumatic. I have been in and out of hospitals in Bangladesh and Kolkata. But doctors here have told me that I am improving. They have started a new treatment and I know that I will recover,” said Rasool.

His steady deterioration has been checked. “I know it’s serious but I am not worried. I have left all my worries to the doctors and would rather plan my return to school,” gushed the Class IX student.

Unlike Rasool, 69–year–old Keshab Sarkar has little to look forward to but “hates to lie down and rot in bed”. A patient of urinary bladder cancer, Sarkar has spent the better part of the last 12 months in hospital beds. “I am not going to die of cancer. I am determined to recover, go back home and die on my bed. In fact, I would love to work again and supervise my land,” he said. His amazing zest for life has been an inspiration for fellow cancer patients at the hospital where he has been under treatment.

Sarkar’s ailment is now at an advanced stage. He has suffered several relapses and his chances of recovery are low, say doctors. “But he never gets cowed down. His eyes remain half–closed and his feeble hands tremble while lifting a cup, but he still manages to smile,” said a doctor.

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