‘More Than My Cancer, I was Worried About How it Affected My Wife’
Surviving cancer is a conversation between a cancer survivor and their doctor. For this episode on World Cancer Day, we chat with Dr Ranga R Rao, Senior Director, Medical Oncology, Max Hospital, New Delhi, and John Loandey, a 59-year-old survivor of lung cancer. John was diagnosed with it in 2018, by then the cancer had already advanced to stage 4.
Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
A non-smoker, when John Loandey flew to India from Nairobi to get his chronic cough tested, he found out that the reason behind it was stage 4 lung cancer. Describing the experience as “traumatic”, he remembers that he could never lie on his back then. It would immediately trigger a coughing fit. However, now being 95 percent recovered, he shares with a huge smile that he can lie on his back for as long as he wants.
‘Cancer Doesn’t Always Has Cough, Cough Doesn’t Always Mean Cancer’
Without sending anyone into panic, Dr Rao, emphasises that it’s important to get checked for chronic conditions. It could be anything - acidity, a persistent ache or as was in John’s case, a cough. If a condition is lasting for fifteen days or more per month, it should be checked. It may or may not be cancer, but it’s important to be in the clear.
Talking primarily about lung cancer, he further points out that it is the most common cancer in men. While 50 percent of lung cancer cases include smokers, the remaining 50 percent are people who have never even passively smoked in their lives.
‘More Than My Cancer, I Was Worried About How it Affected My Wife’
John remembers the time as being extremely tough for him and his family. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer, all four of his children were in different countries while he and his wife were in India for the tests and treatment. The burden of breaking it to them was immense, he adds.
He further says that beyond that, it was not difficult to talk about his ailment, in fact it was important to share it with people.
Now when he is almost entirely recovered, he adds that it was the belief that he is going to overcome the disease that got him through. Undeniably, it was a complicated case, but he has come a long way that includes four cycles of chemotherapy and almost a year of treatment.
The bottomline, on which both Dr Rao and John agreed on, is regular medical checkups and the belief that no matter what, the disease will be overcomed. Cancer doesn’t always have to be the scary bugbear we make it out to be.