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The Good Patient: Facing a Cancer Diagnosis With a Smile and Positivity

A cancer diagnosis was not going to keep Rajneesh from spread joy. Here's a peak into his cancer journal as he heals

Updated
Cancer
11 min read
The Good Patient: Facing a Cancer Diagnosis With a Smile and Positivity
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(4 February is World Cancer Day. This year's theme is 'close the care gap'. In light of it, FIT is republishing the story of this cancer survivor who fought cancer with a smile and positivity.)

Rajneesh Singh is an HR consultant who runs his own firm. He's been an incredibly positive influence in the lives of his friends, family and colleagues. Even before his colon cancer diagnosis, Rajneesh greeted everyone with exuberance, his writing reflecting his positive and warm outlook to life. So the C Word was not going to bring him down.

Every few weeks, Rajneesh kept his friends updated on his health journey on social media. Each post produced an outpouring of support, and for those on a similar journey, his writing was about finding joy.

As he continues his journey towards recovery, we are reproducing his diary with his permission.

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If you or your loved one are dealing with cancer, this thread will bring you hope.

The Good Patient - Diagnosis

<div class="paragraphs"><p>"Third week of July, I got diagnosed with early stages of Colon Cancer"</p></div>

"Third week of July, I got diagnosed with early stages of Colon Cancer"

On my bucket list was this interesting To Do of being The Good Patient. I wanted to spend at least couple of weeks in the comforts of a room in a hospital. You may find that weird. But that has always fascinated me.

All my life I have visited family and friends at the hospital. And somewhere I fell in love with the place. Imagine a room to yourself, lying down all day, food being served to your bed, watching TV, thinking or literally doing nothing. My time to be The Good Patient was here.

Third week of July, I got diagnosed with early stages of colon cancer. It was a sudden development following a month of tummy problems. For a minute I couldn't believe that this could happen to a beer loving fellow.

But God has his way. The next step was to go back to my bucket list and it dawned upon me that the time for being The Good Patient had arrived.

I had to really prepare for this unexpected opportunity.

So what do you do? You grab it.

I could've reached out to family and friends to refer a doctor. I did not do that. The moment I was told I need to meet a Gastro specialist, I just googled.

The first name that I saw was of the doctor in our neighbourhood hospital. I always loved that place hence I just went ahead to meet the doc. For The Good Patient, the place matters.

It was an instant chemistry with the doc. He advised colonoscopy and I went ahead to take it with full enthusiasm. I was given the go ahead for general anaesthesia. The fun had begun.

I was in a room with all apparatus around me. Again part of the bucket list. I just told the folks there do what you want to do with this body but get it sorted. And for the next 2 hours I was totally switched off from the world.

I woke up and saw my wife smiling down at me. I told her to take a pic of smiling me. This was a unique experience that I went through and it had to be captured.

I was told that the biopsy is being done too since they found some unusual growth near my rectum. The next wait was for this fascinating report.

A piece of me taken out for study was intriguing. Biopsy confirmed tumor growth and the next guy I was referred by the amiable Gastro guy was an Oncologist. By this time the weekend had hit.

I had joined the Cancer Club. I never ever expected that I would be a member of this club one day. But here I was sitting in front of an oncologist. Again, the chemistry that followed mattered a lot for the Good Patient.

He did a quick clinical check in his cabin. Oh! By the way this was the second time something was being inserted into my rectum, colonoscopy being the first one.

I just followed his instructions and did exactly what he told me to do. After he had done the check he said nothing to worry. It's not a major situation and things are positive. He advised PET CT scan as the next step.

This was the next dream thing I always wanted to experience as The Good Patient. Be in a scanner machine which checks your body. I always envisioned that it would be like one space station feeling.

It was the third time something was filled into my rectum for the scan. I can't describe the experience here. And then in I went. It was super cool inside, but I had a blanket. Call that luxury. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The CT scan report led to a twist in the story. Apart from the growth in my colon, there was one spot on the liver too. Now this makes the story interesting. And so the doc suggested a MRI of the abdomen to ascertain the liver spot.

I was happy to be back in a scanner. This was different. The staff told me not to doze off since that would affect the scanning. Me, being a forever sleeper, was in a bind.

Once inside, the damn machine made more noise than the CT machine. This was like a rocket hurtling all the way into the sky. I loved it.

So with all that noise how can sleep even dare to come anywhere near.

The MRI report came confirming there was only one spot on the liver. It was time to meet the doc again. Forever The Good Patient, I was loving this test & appointment business. I was never late for any of them.

I was told it was time to prepare me now for the surgery. An Echo stress needed to be done. I was all game for it. I thought a treadmill test will be done but instead I had these wires all over my chest and was told a medicine will be passed into my body.

This would raise the heart palpation. And boy, did that do the magic. Heart beat just kept going up to check my endurance levels. Having been a sportsperson, I could walk over this. Some blood test followed. Back home, it was time to inform friends and business associates.

The Good Patient - The Surgery

<div class="paragraphs"><p>'With some local anesthesia, I could sense something being pierced at my back.'</p></div>

'With some local anesthesia, I could sense something being pierced at my back.'

Evening of August 9 was memorable after we had checked into Room no. 2349 of the hospital. Both the date and the room digits added up to a couple of numbers The Good Patient loves. 9 & 18.

Call it sheer coincidence. As we settled in the room, one was given two bottles of liquid to be finished by 1am after which, the patient needed to fast. So what did we do?

Ordered some yummy snacks. Had them and the sips of the liquid followed which was bit sour but a sip of apple juice every time helped. This was to flush out my tummy and therefore multiple rounds to the washroom ensued. The Good Patient switched off at 1.30am on the D-Day.

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At about 6am, a barber dropped by. He took out a trimmer and said he needs to trim the body hair. I said please go ahead and he started mid-thigh and upward.

He stopped at chest level and was about to wrap up. The Good Patient told him if he has to to do a full job, he better clean it up all. He obliged. And there it was. The body was ready for the next big act.

I was put on to a stretcher and rolled across to the OT Work Station where I was parked in a corner. I watched folks troop in to work till about 7.30am or so. Then 3 guys came and said it was time to go the OT.

The Operation Theatre was something The Good Patient really looked forward to. The door was slid open and in went the stretcher. I looked around to absorb all of the Theatre.

At this point the only act to do was to SUBMIT. The Good Patient submitted himself to every possible God out there of every religion. I submitted myself to my parents in heaven.

And last but not the least I submitted myself to the surgeon and his team of nurses and para medical staff. I was shifted on to the operating table and I looked up to see the famous surgery lights.

Some sight that was. With some local anaesthesia, I could sense something being pierced at my back. And that was that.

I was literally blown away. Two surgeries followed. Colon area through laparoscopy and liver area through open surgery. A big step had been taken.

When The Good Patient woke up, the stretcher was on its way out of the OT. I asked the staff what time was it. They said 8pm. I was stunned. 8pm? I was in for almost 12hours.

The Good Patient was moved into a well lit up spacious ICU area. Throat was parched and I asked for water.

I was politely told that would happen after 12 hours. Phew. This was going to be some survival test. But The Good Patient did survive. By morning I was asked if I would like to sit. I said I would love to.

In came a recliner replacing the bed and there I was looking at the world outside from a large window.

A New Day Had Dawned

After I was given water, I was asked if I would like to walk. I thought things were going real fast but The Good Patient just went with the flow.

And as I had walked few steps in came the surgeon. He was surprised to see me standing and walking. I complimented him. We smiled and then he said he had a surprise for me.

He went to the ICU door and held it open and asked me to walk towards it. Out there standing and waiting was The Good Patient's wife. We held on to our tears somehow and yes held back our hug.

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The other visiting doctors who saw me in the ICU after few hours, decided I was good to be shifted to a room. This was heartening and indeed very positive.

I was to be in the ICU that night but I was being moved out. This was the second big step being taken. In those few hours at the ICU, I built relationships that made the whole experience very special.

In sometime, I was wheeled into this big room with two large windows. Both overlooking the Qutub Minar at a distance. That was special. And the room number? 2430. Adding up to a 9 :)

In this one week my wife played a stellar role of being the social update person and a rock solid support. Our son enjoyed the entire hospital experience and arrived at this simple conclusion - as human beings, we are super fragile.

As a family, including all siblings, we stuck together through this challenging ride. And the world of friends and well wishers out there - your quiet prayers paid rich dividends.

The Good Patient has got A Second Life. He is for sure going to make the most of it but at the same time, take it easy. For now a 6-month healing/treatment follows.

Round 1: Chemo 

<div class="paragraphs"><p>'The Good Patient was warned of severe side effects by friends and family.'</p></div>

'The Good Patient was warned of severe side effects by friends and family.'

The story of The Good Patient moved to a different level post August after the surgery formalities were done with. Come September, a 12 cycle routine of chemotherapy kicked off.

This was the time for treatment and prevention. The Good Patient was warned of severe side effects by friends and family.

When The Good Patient was told about the drug that he will be taking, he googled about it. Folfox 6 was the name.

Quite a few not-so-good side effects were listed and The Good Patient thought it was time to brace up and face up to it with all the positivity. The cycle was to be done once every 2 weeks.

The doctor advised the first one to be done in the hospital. So after a month after the surgery, The Good Patient was back in the hospital.

It was time for a new experience. A 2-step procedure was explained. First, a chemo port was to be inserted under the skin on the right side of the chest. Once that was done, the second step involved getting the drug through that.

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The chemo port insertion was a 15-min procedure done in the OT. So one was back to the same OT. Folks there recognized The Good Patient and that made things easy.

A local anaesthesia meant no pain. And he was all happy to take in the drugs. They happened through 3 drips. Two done over a 5-hour period while the third one required 46 hours.

This meant a 2-night stay at the hospital. A food rich in protein was to follow and The Good Patient enjoyed all the meals with eggs and chicken coming in good measure :)

For the following chemo cycles, I had an option of taking them in the OPD area of the Cancer section. We opted for that. The OPD area, also called as Day Care, was absolute fun.

You get to sit on a recliner, food gets served right there including breakfast and lunch while the chemo drip is on through the chemo port. This gave The Good Patient a feeling of traveling in a Shatabdi Express. Fully pampered.

You get to sit on a recliner, food gets served right there including breakfast and lunch while the chemo drip is on through the chemo port. This gave The Good Patient a feeling of traveling in a Shatabdi Express. Fully pampered.

The side effects you may ask. Thankfully, nothing major. Once the cycle would get over, couple of days of low energy would follow but that was it. Nausea and loose motion were to be the side effects, but none happened. Hair did start dropping but after the 3rd or 4th cycle.

God has been kind to The Good Patient and has given him a lot of hair. Let's see if one goes bald.

While the 6 cycles were on, The Good Patient did step out to just check the endurance levels. Couple of long drives happened. All done successfully. And then came the end of Round 1 of 6 chemo cycles. A PET CT was to be conducted.

For The Good Patient, it was back for another space ship trip! Thankfully, the scan did not involve anything being inserted at the back side.

The scan report is all clear with no signs of any tumor growth anywhere and it's a huge relief. That encourages The Good Patient to take on the Round 2 of next 6 chemo cycles with all gusto.

All care is being taken. I am stepping out for walks in nearby parks. Work is happening. Meeting friends and family has just started. All that adds up to optimism and happiness.

(Rajneesh has started his round 2 of chemo treatments. And he's facing them with the same sense of adventure and positivity with which he has faced the diagnosis, surgery and treatment.)

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