Before cancer, I had never been hospitalised in my life. In 58 years of my life I had never suffered any major health issue. In fact, I had been so healthy all my life that it was my dream to be pampered in a hospital. I wanted to be admitted and to be taken care of, at least for a few days, so that I could enjoy that feeling.
My Journey through Stage IV Cancer
It all started in July 2021. I had been having uneasiness in my stomach, and my bowel movements were unusual. I was consulting a general physician for this, but the medicines were not helping me much. Then, I noticed blood in my stools. That’s when the general physician suggested I go to a specialist.
The specialist suggested that I get a colonoscopy done and it was then that a tumorous growth was found in my intestines. This is when the word ‘cancer’ was used for the first time. Obviously, it’s not an easy diagnosis but my attitude was ‘what next?’ I wanted to find a solution rather than let the problem bring me down.
It’s not just cancer, with any major problem in life, you can choose one of two ways of dealing with it. One way is to let it bring you down to a point where you are upset and cannot see beyond the problem. The other way is to start thinking about what can be done about the problem.
With cancer, the problem hits you on different levels at the same time. While you are struggling physically, it all affects you financially, emotionally and socially. One of my biggest takeaways from this has been to prepare financially for such a situation. I have advised all my healthy friends to get an insurance policy to prepare for situations where treatment can cost quite a lot of money.
After the cancer diagnosis, further scans revealed that there was cancer in my liver as well. This is when we realised that it was stage IV, meaning that the cancer has spread outside of the intestines and reached the liver. Stage IV sounds scary but I kept my attitude of ‘what next’ and tried a solution-oriented approach.
Being inside an operation theatre is an experience in itself. All the doctors, nurses and the big lights; it makes you feel like it’s a major event. I went in with a smile. I felt ready to surrender myself to the surgeon and trust him. I feel it’s very important to trust your medical team, because they do know more than you as far as your disease is concerned. To question them or mistrust them, can make them lose confidence in themselves. Once you’ve taken the decision to go with a certain oncologist, you need to give them the trust they need to do their work.
Within 48 hours of my surgery, I was walking about. Even the surgeon was surprised at the quick recovery. For me, to be alive and to be able to walk about after my surgery, filled me with a sense of joy. I felt it was a second chance at life that has been given to me. I knew I had to make it count.
The love you give comes back to you
One evening I was on my terrace with my wife, and I was reflecting on my diagnosis. This was just before I was to go into the hospital for a week. I just started typing my thoughts on my phone and it turned into a post that got an unbelievable response from everyone near and far. I started receiving messages from so many people. It was overwhelming to see how many people cared.
I believe whatever we do for others is not lost. It comes back to us. We may not realise at the time, but our acts have an impact on others. I think we should sow seeds of love and goodness everywhere because one day we are going to receive back the fruits of those seeds.
Going through my cancer treatment, I was determined to come back alive and better. I felt there was no other option. My family depended on me. I run my own firm and the families of my employees depend on me. I could not let them down. I had to be back. Maybe it was this determination that kept me going through the tough times.
Tips for the newly diagnosed
If you are newly diagnosed, I’m going to share with you what I have learnt through my cancer experience. I hope it will make your journey a bit easier.
Pick your medical team wisely
It matters which oncologist you go to. So do your research so that you don’t end up in the wrong hands.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your doctor. Ask as many questions as you want. It’s important to know what treatment you are going through and what outcomes you can expect from this treatment.
You can read more about how to prepare for a consultation with your oncologist here.
Learn to handle news
During the initial stage, you will find out what type of cancer you have, and the stage it is in. This kind of information must be handled with a bit of courage. Learn to take it in, and not get rattled. You have to trust that you can overcome this disease.
You will break down and there is no harm in that. It’s good to let the emotions flow. Just don’t let it bring you down to a point from which you are unable to see a way out.
Focus on taking care of yourself
As the journey progresses focus on taking care of yourself. Follow every instruction from the doctor, be it your diet, or the little physical exercise they suggest, or breathing exercises to help you manage your stress. Focus on these things as they will aid your recovery.
Cancer can happen to anyone
I remember during one of my consultations, the doctor asked me if I smoke, or if I drink heavily. I said no I don’t. My next question to the doctor was, “Then why am I here?” I have maintained a healthy lifestyle and have been healthy all my life. This just shows that cancer can happen to anyone.
It’s sensible to be aware of your symptoms, and get the right medical help as quickly as you can.
A note about Rajneesh Singh
Rajneesh comes with over three decades experience as a HR practitioner as well as a HR entrepreneur. In his corporate avatar, he served well known organisations like Eicher, Gillette and Network18 Group. In January 2011, he co-founded SimplyHR Solutions which today is an end to end HR firm catering to Start ups, SMEs and Large organisations.
He is an active contributor towards Entrepreneurship Development at school level initiated by Delhi Government. He is on the Academic & Corporate Advisory Council at Army Institute of Management and Technology, Noida. He is also a Mentor at School of Inspired Leadership, Gurugram.
Rajneesh is involved with a school for Autism children, Parivartan school in Delhi and is one of the early supporters of Nayi Disha, Gurugram, a school for underprivileged children.He is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people who need more opportunities to achieve their aspirations. He is also a published author, a social media enthusiast and loves anything to do with the outdoors.