My name is Sidharth and I am in my thirties. An IT professional, sportsman and a marathon runner for the last 8 years.
To my surprise, and my family and friends’ shock, I was detected with a rare type of cancer in the right kidney one month after I ran full marathon in Mumbai in January 2014 and a week after I had played the first cricket match of the internal cricket tournament of my organization at the end of February 2014.
On February 27, 2014, I passed blood in my urine which was an alarming sight for me (in medical terms it is called gross hematuria). The initial blood, urine and ultrasound tests conducted by doctors showed that everything was normal, hence no one was sure as to why I was passing blood in the urine. In fact, it was only blood and no urine which I was passing. The other thing that was worrying the doctors was that I had absolute no pain any where. Once the CT scan was done, the radiologist confirmed a large growth inside the kidney which is usually cancerous in nature and called Renal Cell Carcinoma in medical terms. The growth was of the size of a golf ball residing inside my right kidney, covering more than half of it.
It was a really tough time for my family since all the doctors were suggesting a major surgery with a possibility of me losing the right kidney. However, the final call of removing the kidney would be taken only at the OT table once the doctors opened me up. The biggest worry for me was the fear that I saw in my parents’ and my friends’ eyes of losing me. In the end, it became a motivating factor for me since I had to stand in front of them and give them an assurance that it was not a dead end and I will be fit and fine soon. After lots of preliminary tests conducted by various doctors, I was finally declared fit for the surgery.
Finally, the day came when the surgery was performed and, as expected, the right kidney could not be saved by the surgeons. The kidney, along with the ureter, lymph node, 3 arteries, 4 veins and some peripheral tissue, had to be removed.
I had excessive bleeding during the surgery and had to be given more than 2 bottles of blood. Obviously this increased the heart beat of my parents and all my well wishers waiting outside desperately to hear the news that all is well. Eventually I came out with a successful surgery.
I still have a long road ahead since there are tests to be conducted and I need to be closely monitored for the next 5 years to ensure that the cancer has not spread to other parts of my body (in medical terms called metastasis). This requires CT scans of chest, bone and liver which need to be done at a frequency of 3 months for the next 5 years. A negative result may change the course of the treatment further, but I am hopeful that everything will be fine.
Even after one month of surgery, I was so low on energy that I needed to rest after climbing down just 2 stairs. I really had to push myself hard even to stand on my feet for 10 minutes. I then realized that this was taking away my mental as well as physical strength, and it was time that I needed to back myself up and slowly start walking and regaining my confidence. I was terrified by the fact that 2 months ago I was running a full marathon and today, it was difficult to stand for even 10 minutes. I finally held myself together, and after another 3 weeks, I was able to stand and walk, although getting the same stamina would take its own time.
But the key is not to give up at any stage.
I went back to running and completed the half marathon in November 2014 – 8 months after the surgery – and then went to Mumbai to complete another full marathon in January 2015. The next landmark was when I hit the cricket pitch at the end of January (333 days after the surgery) to play my first corporate tournament post-surgery. I cannot forget the welcome my team gave me when I joined them and, needless to say, I did not disappoint my team and scored runs when my team needed the most. The feeling was so good that it’s really difficult to put it in words.
The purpose of sharing this story and starting a blog (youcanfightcancer.wordpress.com) is that I found lots of cancer patients in the hospital who require help in terms of counseling. Such a disease takes a lot from you, not only physically and mentally, but emotionally as well. The word cancer itself is so scary that people tend to lose the battle even before it starts. I really consider myself lucky that first God gave me a warning since the bleeding happened only for 2 days and then stopped itself, and secondly, I had very supportive family and friends. Needless to say, my willpower when added to all this lets me become a strong person, but not everybody is as lucky as me.
I would like to contribute as much as I can and hopefully be able to change someone’s attitude towards life.
I am planning to start counseling sessions both online and in hospitals to motivate cancer patients. I strongly believe: If I can do it, why cant they!! Please feel free to call me or leave me a message on my blog and I promise I will try and help anybody and everybody I can to help fight it!
– Sidharth Ghosh