Friday, September 7, 2012

The sunshine in my life dimmed in 1996 when my fifteen year old was diagnosed with a chronic kidney failure, due to a reflux causing urine to flow back into the kidney. Nothing changed my life dramatically when in May 1997 a reputed oncologist spoke to me of the hard lump in my breast. “Lemon size” was his words as looked at me after a physical examination.

Wonderingly, he phrased the question, “How did you not notice it?” even as his eyes searched my face. Embarrassed at my inadequacy, I explained of my son’s renal health, my preoccupation with diet, medications, mentally preparing for dialysis and transplant, whatever needed. Speaking straight from my heart with face taut, I almost mouthed my death wish- that I would like to donate my kidney to my son before the cancer spreads further. To divert my attention the doctor spoke of scheduling an early surgery and advised further investigations to be conducted.

After a mastectomy, six cycles of chemotherapy and radiation which were efficiently managed by my oncologist, the nephrologists tested me thoroughly before declaring me fit for the organ donation. Today, nearly eleven years later after my son lost my kidney, much after my elder son gave him his kidney and our family saw the sun shine brightly, I could derive the fundamentals for surviving major illness.

The patient must have a clear understanding of health conditions, accept it, be medically compliant, have faith on the primary doctor’s capabilities, and ultimately accept that a superior power determines the dynamics for his/her survival. For the doctor it is using every power to find solutions to problems surfacing, acknowledging patient’s right to live and ensure that he works towards it.

Survivors of illness are happy people. They have done everything right but importantly their chance to be alive was hand-picked by the Super Power. Notwithstanding, the expertise of the treating doctor and his achievements and credits, it is well known that many patients under that doctor’s care have lost their lives while battling a disease. People, succumbing to illnesses, may leave behind unhappy and resentful families. Time will heal their wounds. Time will also show them value of accepting that the hands that worked on their family member never had power to grant life. That death knocked at some doors at an inopportune moment.

I learned a great lesson through cancer and stages of kidney disease when I walked the path with my son. Nothing is as it seems; nothing is within our arms distance. Everyone has to go through the experience hoping they reach the end of the tunnel. As I look back I see familiar faces among those fallen down in the path. It was not theirs to choose the opportunity to live; they had to simply seize what was given to them - to live or not to.

With salutations to Oncologists- Arun Kurkure M.D and Late D J Jussawala M.D, nephrologists B V Gandhi M.D and Mohammad Akmal, M.D