In early 2021, Meher Roy from Gujarat was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia (ALL).

What was extraordinary was that his only symptom was a simple alteration in the body – an increased resting heart rate.

While he got his health checkup done in January 2021, he contracted COVID-19 right after that.

“I felt like I lacked energy after the infection. I even got a recurring nose infection. But the oddest thing was that by March-end, my resting heart rate was shooting up. From 55, it reached 90 beats per minute,” he says.

He knew something was wrong.

“I was in Switzerland by then and got a CBC done there on 13 April. Then, on 14 April, I was asked to come in along with a family member and a few changes of clothes,” says Meher.

He was diagnosed with ALL. The cancer cells had penetrated his nervous system. Of the approximately six kg of blood in Meher’s body, 2.5 kg had been infiltrated by cancer cells.

But there was still hope as the diagnosis had come at an early stage. “If I had waited for another two or three weeks, it would have killed me,” he says.

“The disease was aggressive, so the treatment had to be aggressive too. It is expected to continue for two and a half years in my case,” he says.

He adds that the medicines are tough on the body, and side effects of chemotherapy persist, even as symptoms begin improving.

Meher says his battle with cancer has taught him that every person should undertake simple tracking of bodily functions.

“You should have an understanding of what your body normally feels like, listen to it, and respond when it feels abnormal.”