Kuldeep Singh narrates the story of his uphill struggle with colon cancer and finding the right treatment during the pandemic.
“I went to four different hospitals to get my surgery done and each time it was cancelled. When you face such strange circumstances in life, you start believing in God even if you have never believed till that moment.
Hello, I’m Kuldeep Singh, a zonal manager from Mumbai. My wife is a homemaker and we have two children; a fourteen year-old son and a nine year-old daughter.
In January 2020, I was diagnosed with cancer. But unknown to me, my cancer story began much before that.
The first signs
Frequent travel, irregular meal times, replacing meals with just tea, are all part of the deal when you have an on-field job. So a little bit of acidity or digestive problems are not unusual. When I first consulted a doctor about it, I was prescribed antacid and other medicines.
But within a month, the pain was back. You can hardly let a few physical discomforts get in the way of your work, and so I learnt to ‘adjust’ to it. My thinking was to avoid medication as far as possible and instead divert my attention from the pain. When it got uncomfortable, I self-medicated for relief.
“I think that is the problem with us educated people. We try to find our own solution to problems that should be solved by a doctor. We look at the internet, we use our existing knowledge and prescribe ourselves medicines that are available over the counter.
This suppresses the symptoms without solving the underlying issue that caused those symptoms in the first place. And over time, we train ourselves to get used to the symptoms, while the damage continues inside.
What started as acidity, became severe acidity and then progressed to ulcer. Repeated inflammation over time develops into worse problems.
Finally, three years after this problem began, multiple futile doctor’s visits and medicines later, I decided that I should go for a sonography of the abdomen to find out what exactly was wrong.
The sonography reports said that I should go for a CT scan. The CT scan showed that I had a 6 cm tumour.
Even though I am from the medical field, I was not prepared for this diagnosis. I can say the day we got the diagnosis of the Big C was a black day in our lives.
Usually there are two paths in front of you at this point. You can break down and stay broken. Or you can face the diagnosis, keep the positivity and strive to come out successful.
“I think when someone is faced with a cancer diagnosis, their initial reaction is to look towards their loved ones to see how they react. They tend to echo that reaction. If your family stays strong and positive, you feel the same. But if they break down, then the patient ends up losing hope and leaving the battlefield.
My wife was very clear that this was a minor speedbreaker in our lives. She was confident that I would be fine after the surgery.
My son too gave me a lot of courage. He said, “Papa, it’s a small thing, we will overcome it.” That helped me cope with the situation and I was completely focused on the surgery.
I started my treatment at a famous hospital in Mumbai. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that hospital suspended all operations.
At that time, I contacted Onco.com to check what other options I had. They got me an appointment with a famous surgical oncologist who I immediately consulted.
But the lockdown brought so many complications into the equation and some delays and postponements ensued.
My entire family assured me that I will win this battle. My company stood by me.
Finally, my care manager found a hospital where the same expert surgical oncologist could operate. I completed my surgery there successfully.
Just as this ordeal ended, another one developed. The oncologist explained that I would have to undergo a hernia operation.
Within a month of my first surgery, I was back for my second surgery.
It is testing times like these that really show you how strong you are, not only because of your own strength, but also the support of your loved ones.
It’s been two months now since I completed the second operation. You may be surprised to know that I am back to working as usual.
If you are facing a cancer diagnosis right now, I want to tell you that no one ever got anything from being scared. There is only one way forward; you have to fight it.
Focus on things within your control. Follow a healthy diet, full of antioxidants and sufficient fibre.
Make yourself mentally and physically strong for the treatment.
Half the battle is in our heads. We survive only when we fight. Giving up is never an option.