‘It changed the way I look at life’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/it-changed-the-way-i-look-at-life/

‘It changed the way I look at life’

“Those 11 hours were the longest of my life,” says Sajida Bagwan.

Tanveer Bagwan shares his story of battling a brain tumor and coming out victorious

“Those 11 hours were the longest of my life,” says Sajida Bagwan. Her husband Tanveer was detected with a four and a half cm by three cm tumor in his brain on January 31. He was operated on February 24 and the surgery lasted for 11 hours. Today,Tanveer is back home,at work and fit as ever. Only the scar on one side of his head reminds them of the harrowing experience.

It was a minor headache,but one that lasted for two-three months,that prompted Tanveer,senior project manager at HSBC,to visit a general practitioner. A week or two of medicines followed,but the headache remained stubborn. “That’s when our friends Gopal and Priya Amin suggested that I meet a neurophysician. The doctor asked me to do an MRI scan even though he assured us that the headache was mostly due to stress and 99.9 per cent the result would be fine,” Tanveer says. The doctor,however,was wrong and in the middle of the scan,the radiologist discovered the tumor. “My wife was visiting her mother in Satara at that time. Only when she came back after two days did I tell her,” he adds. Though he smiles as he speaks now,one can easily realise the stress that the family went through. “We know about tumors only from the movies,” Tanveer says,“So,the first question on my mind was: ‘How many months do I have left?’”

Though the tumor was benign,the Bagwans decided to keep the news to themselves. “Our parents would get emotional and we didn’t want them to go through that,” they reason. Tanveer’s scan report was sent to the US to Priya’s family member who is a neurosurgeon. “He consulted with others in the US and we too met around four or five neurosurgeons in Pune. I was even ready to go abroad for a surgery if required. But the surgeons in the US suggested Dr Keki Turel,top neurosurgeon and professor of neurosurgery at Bombay hospital,” Tanveer adds.

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An hour’s meeting with Dr Turel helped the couple make up their minds about the surgery. Tanveer shared the news with his boss and a couple of other colleagues. Sajida’s sister was called to tend to their children – their daughter who is studying in Std V and their son in Senior KG. Only three people accompanied Tanveer to Mumbai for the surgery – Sajida,her brother and Tanveer’s colleague. “I just wasn’t myself. I was simply going along with everything. It was only when I spoke to Tanveer after the surgery that I breathed a sigh of relief,” Sajida shares.

Focusing on the positive is what helped them keep their calm and not give in to the whirl of emotions englufing them. “We didn’t focus on anything else but getting rid of the tumor. Our priority was the right doctor,date,finances and so on,” the couple says.

Dr Turel,who has conducted surgeries for 27 hours at a stretch and has even removed tumors weighing more than half a kilogram,says,“He was fortunate that his tumor was benign. But still,it would continue growing had it not been detected. Brain tumor is usually the last thing on a doctor’s mind when a patient only has a headache. But now,attention to headaches has become a speciality by itself in neurology.” If the tumor goes undetected,a patient can develop psychiatric symptoms or it can affect other functions of the brain. “Benign tumors grow at a slow rate,but one should get a scan done if one has even the slightest of symptoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he adds. As the Bagwans point out the faith they had in him,he says,“I treat my patients not like an object but like one of my own. I explained the whole problem to the Bagwans by way of pictures,videos and models.”

Tanveer feels this entire experience has changed the way he looks at life. “Earlier,I used to plan life,how to retire,and so on. But now,I believe that if there’s something one wants to do,one shouldn’t wait. Just do it,” he says.