Being diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most traumatic – both physical and mental – experiences for a person. However, offering hope to those battling the disease, survivors said that “early acceptance” and a “positive state of mind” is the key to emerging victorious.
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“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2014 and underwent a bilateral surgery a few days later. What kept me going was the desire to emerge victorious in this battle… and I did,” Reena Khanna (name changed), a cancer survivor, told IANS.
Khanna, 45, a mother of two daughters, added: “It has a lot to do with your spirit and how well you overcome your fears.”
Agreed 31-year old Ashish Parmar, who said that he had no idea what cancer was until he was diagnosed with it.
“I was diagnosed with oral cancer, which, to my surprise caught on me 12 years after I quit consuming tobacco. However, I was lucky enough to be diagnosed on time and was able to fight it with a positive mind,” Parmar, who underwent treatment at Narayana Multispecialty Hospital, Ahmedabad, told IANS on phone.
According to government data, cancer is emerging as a major public health concern in India, with 2.8 million cancer cases being registered annually.
There is an increase of 1.1 million every year and the number of deaths is half a million.
The data attributes the increase in the number of cases to “ageing population, unhealthy life styles, use of tobacco and tobacco products, unhealthy diet and better diagnostic facilities.”
India contributes 7.8 percent to the world cancer cases.
Ramesh Sarin, senior oncologist at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said the sooner a patient “accepts” the situation, the easier it becomes to deal with it.
“After accepting, patients should deal with it in a positive manner and also have faith on their doctors. After accepting, patients are in a much better frame of mind,” Sarin, who suffered from breast cancer, told IANS.
Another cancer survivor, Meera Raj, said the first thing patients tend to do is go in “denial”.
“Unless you accept it, you cannot overcome it. Also, one should comply with the whole treatment and not give up midway,” Raj, 65, told IANS from Bengaluru.
However, both health experts and patients feel that there still exists a lack of awareness in India.
“There is a huge gap – about the symptoms and the causing factors. But the bigger gap is that the doctors do not have the time, and they themselves are not adequately informed, which leads to a gap from their side in imparting education,” Sarin added.
She said that health experts should be able to communicate with the patient and also show empathy.
Preeti Jain, consultant oncology, Columbia Asia Hospital-Gurgaon, said that reducing the burden of cancer is quite crucial all across the globe.
“In India we need to promote preventive healthcare. There is a greater need of reforms in our health policies while dealing with a disease like cancer. Better treatment modalities and more targeted cancer therapies that minimize the side effects on the body have made several forms of cancers today curable, especially if they are detected in the early stages,” Jain told IANS.