Why is death so final? Like, THE END? Come on God, be a sport – change the rules – how about parole for good post-death behaviour? Like we get to come back once a year. Email? Ok, maybe just a phone call? Please…

It is 2:00 a.m. I look at the familiar hand beside me. I clasp two fingers. Like I have been doing for so many years.  My source of warmth and comfort. Could I get to do that? Just that. Even after I am gone?

I blink away tears. I need to get sleep. Doc’s appointment tomorrow. For phase II of my treatment. It’s three-weeks since my surgery that was done on 8th Jan.

My case has been transferred from the surgical oncologist to the medical oncologist. Enter Dr Bhawna Sirohi.  Looks so much like Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City. Charming. Neat. Efficient. She has worked mostly in London, she says.

Dr Bhawna Sirohi, my kickass doc!
Dr Bhawna Sirohi, my kickass doc!

I want to ask her if Kate’s having a girl or a boy. Kuchch London-waala gossip toh maloom hoga, naa? But, iss cancer-vancer waali situation mein I don’t think it is proper to gossip. I should appear more saintly and nirvana-ad now. People around me have been putting me on a pedestal and telling me that.

You are so brave, they say.

What’s brave? And what is un-brave? What options did I have?*

She grabs my file and leafs through while replying to messages and scolding lesser-medical-humans. Women can multi-task so well!

She reviews my case. Tells me that the detection was early, surgery got the cancer out.

She smiles. I try to.

Flipping the pages of my already-bulky file, she is going through the details meticulously.

She pauses. And reads on. Makes notes.

Two things raise a flag –

  1. There were two tumours, not just one (=multifocal)
  2. The tumours were Grade III (high grade, aggressive) and comedo

Comedo refers to areas of dead (necrotic) cancer cells, which build up inside the tumor. When cancer cells grow quickly, some cells don’t get enough nourishment. These starved cells can die off, leaving areas of necrosis.

The doc says that while not a black and white decision, it makes sense for me to go for chemotherapy to tackle any rogue cells that may have escaped through the blood-stream.

‘If you were my sister, I would advise you to go for it.’

Miranda Hobbes – my sister? Wow!

Alok does not want to take any chances. He would register me for a double dose if he has his way.

We say ‘yes’.

Next: choose which regimen. There are two to choose from. The outcomes from both are the same.

AC-accelerated Taxol chemotherapy (4+12 dose administration cycles)

The first part consists of a combination of two drugs – doxorubicin (sometimes referred to as Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide) given every two to three weeks for four cycles.

The second part consists of a drug called Taxol (also known as paclitaxel) given every one to two weeks for twelve or four cycles respectively.

FEC–T  (6 dose administration cycles)

FEC–T chemotherapy is divided into two parts. The FEC (5FU, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide) part is given separately to the T (Taxotere) part. Three or four doses of FEC are given during the first few months, followed by three or four doses of Taxotere over the next few months.

We choose AC-T. They say it has milder side-effects. It’s time to tell the children that it was not a ‘boil’ I got operated for. It was cancer. The newly-turned teen is devastated. She cries. Her brother looks worried. Saucer-eyed. We laugh. Loudly. Merrily.

Nothing to worry, babies. It’s over. All treated! Just this chemo-bit remains.

I look at my scars. Like a freshly-painted barbed-wire fence. Bright and intimidating. I look like a ripped-apart and sewn-back G.I. Joe. It is tough to accept my new body. I learn to be grateful. Gotta be.

Fear comes and goes like waves. Crashing on me sometimes. Breaking me to pieces. Receding gently sometimes. Maybe, out of pity for me.

I try to focus on the chemotherapy that is due to begin in a week.

Chemo won’t be easy. I am warned by doctors. By cancer-survivors. By a hospital counsellor. I brace myself. I am not bothered about the hair-fall. Or any appearance-related outcomes. Just wonder how sick I will get.

Sick like a dog, they say. I steal a glance at the neighbour’s dog. He looks fine. So, how sick will I be?


Five Things Cancer-Diagnosed People Don’t want to Hear*
You are so brave. What does that even mean?
God gives this to only those people who can deal with it. Maybe. And he gives stupidity to only people who could offer such reasoning.
You have to live for your children. Firstly, I don’t really get to choose whether I live. And, if I do, why not I live for me, to begin with?
This might have been caused by holding anger, using deodorants, watching TV (Source: Personal Diaries of Stupid Logic) Where did you say you got your medical degree, again?
Are you sure your doctor is good? Not really. Actually she’s a quack. But, she has a nice haircut, you see.




Next : Chemotherapy begins