Priya, – Hyderabad, 2011
I consider myself to be one of luckiest persons in the world. The reasons being, first, the way I was diagnosed; because I had no symptoms and it just happened one random day. Considering the fact that my WBC count was 85,000, maybe I would have been diagnosed pretty late otherwise. The second, being, that out of so many types of cancers I got the one which has a treatment and that too with very minimal side effects. I was lucky enough to reach Dr. S V S S Prasad (of Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad) directly who has been a great support throughout. I have seen CCR and MMR within six months of treatment. And I have never been this happy and confident before.
To begin with, I had completed my B. Tech and was in the middle of deciding whether to take up a job here or go abroad for my Masters degree. That is when I started to notice some bad hair fall and visited a dermatologist. He suggested I get a blood test done. I delayed it and finally gave a sample almost after a week on 4th August 2008. The same day we got a call from the diagnostic center asking me to come back for retest as there could be a mistake. The doctor after taking my CBP again checked for swelling of lymph nodes, spleen and asked a couple of questions- whether I had dizziness, weakness and so on . On the contrary, I told him, I was absolutely fine and in fact in full energy levels by then. However, my CBP report showed that my WBC count was around 85,000.
That was when the dermatologist suggested we go and consult Dr. S V S S Prasad. The very next day my parents and I went to see him at the Apollo Hospital . He first checked for some symptoms and asked that I do a few tests again. The report said suggestive of CML about which I had absolutely no idea although I must have studied about leukemia as a kid. So I did some Google search and got to know there is a good treatment available and that it’s not life threatening. The next day when we met Dr.Prasad, he explained in detail about CML to me and my parents. I was kind of neutral throughout the diagnosis and that could be because I absolutely had no weakness or any other health problems at the time of diagnosis. But my parents were really worried and my dad was in a state of shock. He would say to himself why is this happening to my daughter when I have done nothing wrong all my life? All I had to say is, we never ask that question when we get the best of the world or when life is taking a positive turn ; so why now ?. The good news was that CML has treatment and there are people using the medicine and living absolutely normal lives.
But somewhere down the line I believe without my knowledge it did affect me psychologically because I remember getting irritated and making a big issue for the tiniest things. My younger brother was writing his 10th class exams at that point of time and he was one person who reacted in a mature way for his age. He just asked me if it was a life threatening disease and then when I said no , he just said “so no problem, you will be fine!”.
As per the doctor’s instructions I had a bone marrow and some other tests done. Then I started medication right away as my dad was too worried to wait even a day. My count was around 1, 17,000 before starting the medicine. Within ten days it came down to 11000 and has been stable since then. My Hemoglobin went down from 12.6 to 10. In a week’s time I got the GIPAP approval and thanks to the programme set up by Novartis have been on 400mg of Glivec since then. It took me almost a year and a half to bring back the Hemoglobin levels. My mom would take all the time in world and feed me with nutritious food, fruits and vegetables, all sorts of health drinks and juices to get me back in form. After 6 months around Feb.2009, I had a bone marrow test done and thanks to Dr.Prasad it did not hurt a bit. The results were positive- I was in CCR and MMR. And thereafter the results have continued to be good.
Dr. Prasad has been very supportive from the beginning. He told me that it would be absolutely normal with just one pill a day and that’s exactly how it has been. Initially I had suffered a little with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscles pains, weakness and headache keeping me awake all night. My parents have been supportive all the while although it was a struggle for them both physically and mentally. My dad lost a lot of weight worrying about me while I put on weight. I think it could have been both a little of Glivec and over eating. My mother is a writer, she writes spiritual books, so other than taking care of me she would spend most of her time writing may be to avoid thinking about me. I am a person who just can’t sit at home lying on the bed because I am weak. I would just go driving around, meeting friends, shopping etc but would get exhausted in 2 or 3 hours and literally drag myself home and crash. Although I was a little weak I thought I can manage going abroad or to some other good colleges in India for further studies. But it was evident to my parents that I was too weak and with the side effects I can’t manage on my own. We had a lot of arguments on this and then I decided to do my MBA here in Hyderabad. Initially I used to see a sort of morning sickness, swelling on my face especially eyes, muscles pains, rashes on my cheeks etc. Slowly it started to reduce.
I just completed my MBA in May 2011 from one of the very good Universities. And as a part of the course I went to Singapore for a semester and that way I had my wish of going out of Hyderabad and studying, living on my own come true and I also learned that now I am healthy enough to take care of myself and work hard to achieve anything I want. I am now planning to take up a job and pursue my career. Today my only concern is my weight. Initially I used to get tired very soon so I did not do much of workout. But now that I am absolutely fine I started to work out- I do a combination of yoga, gym and swimming. Not to mention the lightening of skin complexion/me growing fairer. So, today I have fair, glowing healthy and beautiful skin to boost my confidence further haha.
August, it will be 3 years of association with Glivec, CML, Novartis, Max Foundation and Dr.Prasad. On this occasion I would like to heartily thank Novartis and Max Foundation. My special thanks to Dr.Prasad for always being there for me and my family, both as a doctor and a great person, without whose support and guidance I would not have been able to be what I am today.
With a positive attitude, self confidence and support from your loved ones you can turn even a tiny bit of negativity into positive energy. I would have to admit that today I am a much better person and more confident and happier than ever.