As people from across the globe observe February 4 as World Cancer Day, let us bust the myth that only people who smoke or chew tobacco are susceptible to the disease.
In 2006, Amar Bhaskar was diagnosed with Malignant Tongue Carcinoma. It came as a shock to him as he “did not have a habit of smoking or drinking”. In a stroke of bad luck, the deadly disease resurfaced again when he was in remission.
However, thanks to his family’s support and his own determination and grit, he defeated the fatal illness twice and is now an inspiration for others.
“It was June 2006, I was preparing for an important work trip abroad and I visited my family doctor about a persistent cold and cough. As I got up to leave, I casually told him of a wound on my tongue that was refusing to heal. He asked me to take a biopsy because it was a long-term affair,” Bhaskar said in a post shared by the popular Facebook page, ‘Being You’.
Describing it as a “shock”, Bhaskar shared how his doctor explained how he has a malignant tumour in his mouth. “The doctor sat me down and explained that constant rubbing of the sharp edges of my tooth against my tongue could have caused the ulcer which had turned malignant and cancerous. I never realised it until this happened but by then it had turned into a tumour,” the post added.
His journey ahead after the prognosis was not easy as he had to undergo a series of treatments. Having gone through “radiation therapy, multiple cycles of chemotherapy, brachytherapy and biotherapy”, Bhaskar was not deterred by the “harrowing” experience. Instead, he fought hard and kept himself busy with carpentry, yoga and India’s most cherished game, cricket. After a prolonged fight, he beat cancer.
But his happiness was short-lived as the cancer made a return. Bhaskar’s treatement was not easy with “a lesion in the same spot”. His doctor suggested that surgery was the “best option”.
“I was shocked but soon came to terms with it. Post operation, the path of recovery was not only painful but also slow, since I was a diabetic,” he said.
Bhaskar not only had to deal with the pain, he also had to cope with the anger, distress and self-doubt. But he quickly adapted himself to the change. “I had to also relearn how to talk about the new shape and size of my tongue. I used to struggle with words and had a slur in my speech. Since communication was essential for my job, I was determined to get back my normal speech.”
Today, after being cancer-free once again, Bhaskar has only one message for others as he claims the gruesome experience changed him “from a perfectionist and workaholic to someone who is more patient and humble”. Helping other cancer patients and survivors now, he encourages “people to slow down” and enjoy little things that gives one joy.
Read his full post here: