You can read Part 1 of Seema’s Journey here.
The Story So Far … Seema’s life changed when she found a lump in her breast one morning. She is confused and worried. So is her husband Rohan. What happens next?
Seema gets her biopsy report and the news is not good.
When Seema leaves the doctor’s clinic, she is wondering how is it even possible and if the doctors have got it wrong. But all these doubts do not help her deal with the uncertainties this situation has suddenly created in her life. Her entire life can now be divided into two parts: the part before today and the part after today. Everything seems to have changed.
She goes back home but she is not herself. She cancels the meetings for the rest of the day, pretending she is unwell. She is not well, but her colleagues will never guess how unwell she is. Even she did not know it until this morning.
She allows her son to watch his cartoon shows on TV, and even he is surprised that she does not set a time limit today. She shuts herself up in the bedroom to think.
Lost in her thoughts, she flips through her social media account on her mobile, when a notification catches her attention. One of her classmates from college was celebrating her birthday. There was an image of the classmate with her two children, all dressed up, cutting a huge cake. Everyone was smiling.
Seema felt a sudden surge of anger. What was happening was so unfair!
While others were celebrating, and buying new homes, and going on vacations, Seema would be in hospital, building up bills that would have to be paid with her family’s savings.
That question crossed her mind again, “Why me?” Since she had first found the lump, this question had crossed her mind a few times.
She maintained healthy habits. She never had health issues, except for the occasional cold or cough, like anyone else. Then why should she have cancer, while others go about their lives happily?
What is the right way to think about a diagnosis of cancer? No matter which way she looks at it, there seems no light. She is 35 years old and she has a serious illness that could threaten her life. Her son is barely 3 years old. Questions like “will I even make it to his next birthday” terrify her mind.
Anything else would have been better, she thinks. Even if she had lost her job, or if she had a fracture in a road accident, or if … Seema can think of a hundred bad situations that are better than cancer.
Do I know anyone who has recovered from cancer? Seema searches her memory. Her neighbour’s grandmother had cancer, but that was seven years ago and that lady was very old, probably about 80 years old.
Anyone else? Her childhood friend’s brother had cancer when he was a little boy. Bone tumour, it was. And he passed away. But that was almost twenty years ago.
Her uncle’s friend had cancer last year. What had happened to him? She didn’t know. She hadn’t followed up on that. She should give her uncle a call and find out if that friend had recovered. She cannot stop herself from crying as she thinks more about it.
If cancer is as common as the internet says, how come she doesn’t know a single person who has recovered from it? Seema feels her head spinning from over thinking.
She takes the biopsy report out of her bag. This is what it looks like.
What does it mean? How serious is this cancer? What will the treatment be and how much will it cost? How long will it take? What are her chances of surviving through this?
Who can answer these questions? The gynaecologist told her to visit an oncologist. But which oncologist is best for this type of cancer?
So many questions cross Seema’s mind. She tries to search for answers online. Google only provides generic answers but she needed answers specific to her biopsy report.
Would she lose her hair? She recalled that cancer patients usually go bald. A sudden wave of sadness gripped her heart and she found a tear rolling down her cheek.
She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice her husband entering the room. He stopped in his tracks when he saw that she was crying.
“I’m sure the report is wrong.” That was her husband’s way of dealing with the news.
“What should we do now?” Seema asked, although she already knew what to do next. They need to find the answers to their questions. They need to find a good oncologist for that.
Her husband tried to google for the answers. “I’ve already tried that”, Seema thought, but said nothing.
“What about getting another opinion?” Seema’s husband said, showing her the chatbot from Onco.com. She shrugs, unsure how that would help. Her husband enters the required details on the chatbot and a care manager from Onco.com calls them.
The care manager heard them out patiently before she gave them the answers. The answers were clear. There was no room for guess work here.
“With a complex disease like cancer, it’s always best to get an opinion from more than one expert. This will reduce the margin of error, and you can be sure that the diagnosis is correct and your treatment plan is the best one for you.”
The care manager then suggested that if they had doubts about the diagnosis of cancer mentioned in the biopsy report, she could help them get the biopsy blocks and slides reviewed by a senior oncopathologist (pathologists with expertise in cancer diagnosis) to be sure about the diagnosis.
Regarding further plan of treatment, the care manager advised them to send the biopsy report and other test reports that would be shared with a panel of three experts who will be able to provide a detailed report on Seema’s condition and the best treatment for her. They can then get that treatment from any hospital of their choice.
She also books them a priority appointment with an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer treatment.
As her husband continues discussing the details with the care manager, Seema begins to comb her hair and prepare for the visit to the hospital. She wanted to go right away. No point wasting any more time.
“Hope you’re ready for this cancer. You started this fight, but I promise you I will finish it!” says Seema as she gets ready for her appointment with the oncologist.
What will the oncologist say? Is Seema going to be okay?
You can read the next part of Seema’s story here.