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I had just entered college with a big hope and new ambition. But had to stop after two months because I had a fever and cough, wasn’t responding to common medicines, and experienced weight loss, body aches and persistent itching. An x-ray showed a tumor close to my lung. A biopsy from my neck proved that it was cancer. 

After 4th cycles of chemotherapy, the PET scan showed unchanged pleural effusion and pericardial effusion. The oncologist continued with the same regimen. I completed 12 cycles of chemotherapy and was suffering a lot of physical problems. Following that, I had radiotherapy for one month. A few years back, following my 4th PET scan, I was in remission. 

During my treatment, I faced severe stress, fear, and physical and mental problems. I was able to overcome all my problems except for one: social isolation. My neighbors, friends, and relatives all shunned me because of my cancer. I’m sorry to say that even my parents avoided me in the beginning because they believed cancer was contagious. My sister, who was 8 years younger than me, wanted to give me company. But she was not allowed to come near me because of this false belief. My friends also stopped meeting and communicating with me, because I was a cancer patient. I had to stop attending college as the other students avoided me. I spent sleepless nights because of this mental suffering.  

During my treatment, I came in contact with a patient advocacy organization called Narikeldaha Prayas. I liked how they treated me. So following my treatment, I joined them. Though this work is challenging, I am enjoying it, because I can encourage and give hope to other cancer patients like me. 

I was fortunate to be diagnosed in time to receive appropriate and adequate treatment. Most of my countrymen in similar conditions are not so fortunate because of their ignorance. It will be my mission to bring awareness about early diagnosis, timely and proper treatment, and the possibility of subsequent normal life after cancer.

Lastly, I would like to thank all the amazing, passionate, and dedicated people I have met in my journey. They have all given me their very precious time and knowledge, and in doing so, they have inspired me to enhance my knowledge in this new field of cancer advocacy.

I am proud to be a cancer survivor. I missed 2 years of my college, but I’ve now completed my Masters Degree in Social Work. I am advocating for the right to educate children with cancer, because every child deserves to dream and to learn.

By : Nabanita Mandal