In January 2013, I first noticed a swelling on the right side of my neck. It had been there for a while, but it was bigger now. Between January and July, I suffered from numerous episodes of illness. I took small and big conservative treatments in those 6 months, until my biopsy reports revealed that I was suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare kind of blood cancer. This took me by agony. For most of us, even the word cancer sounds so disturbing. Till now cancer had been a zodiac sign. It was hard to accept that I was suffering from this deadly disease. And the worst part about cancer is, you don’t know how it grows inside you. I had this cancer for the last 1 years and it was only in July 2013 that it could be diagnosed. The news was very disturbing for me and my family. When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them too suffer from the disease. The most important thing for me and my family then, was to decide the course of treatment.
We did a lot of online research and consultation on treatment modalities available. The end result - chemotherapy. I knew the suffering that comes with chemotherapy. Its side effects are more than the suffering of cancer itself. That time, I was in the last semester of my college. While taking chemo sessions, I would definitely had to give my studies. I didn’t want to do that. I took some other treatment and continued with my studies for six months.
I thought I was improving, on 31st March 2014 I shifted to Bangalore to start my post graduation. It turned out to be a bad decision. my condition deteriorated and I could hardly carry on my daily chores. Weight loss, weakness, frequent fever, excessive sweating, breathing problems, body ache - it was all encroaching upon me. It was high time I start my chemotherapy. I was afraid of chemothearpy, but more than that I was afraid of the disease. I consulted my doctors and started taking chemo sessions. It wasn’t a nightmare as it seemed to be. The 12 sessions of chemotherapy in 6 months were difficult but healing. The severe pain waned off after the first 6 days. But the agony was yet to come. I could hardly eat anything, whenever I ate anything I felt like throwing up. There was a sick feeling all the while. The whole body would feel uneasy. My body had become very lean and I lost most of my hair. People used to look suspiciously at me. I wanted to give up each moment. You all might have read about the suffering that comes with chemotherapy but I’ve experienced it myself. Its catastrophic. But I didn’t give up, I took my held high, heart strong and carried it on with all determination to get better. I survived it. The end of chemotherapy was a beginning of a beautiful story for me!
In November 2014, I came back to my sister’s place in Raipur. I fought through the bad days to earn good days. My chemo sessions were completed. Like they say, no matter how dark a night, it must be followed by dawn. I had determined to come back to myself, come back to life. In 2 months I gradually recovered with yoga, cycling, and easy exercises. Chemotherapy had already killed the lethal Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
My journey of beating cancer was a complete effort of my family and some friends. Cancer doesn’t always kill people, it gives reasons to live as well. I found mine. Now, I’ve devoted myself to a good cause. I go to hospitals and cancer institutions across the country and motivate people to take chemotherapy. I counsel them about the problems that come with it and give them a helping hand to claw their way out of the disease.
Harteij could do it, because he believed he could. That’s what we call a heroic spirit. Defeating the disease wasn’t easy for him, but he makes it easier for other people by doing cancer awareness programmes. HealthPotli salutes such determined heroes
Harteij Bhratesh, is a cancer survivor who has devoted himself to doing solo cancer awareness bike rides across India. He visits cancer patients to counsel them about chemotherapy. He has also joined hands with some NGOs for their good work.
Connect to your hero Harteij at firstname.lastname@example.org