Story no one wants to hear-sad story of a wife
During the 11 months when my husband, Ahmad, was dying of bladder cancer, few people wanted to hear how he was truly doing. They wanted to hear about hope, courage, and positivity, not about how Ahmad was unlikely to survive or his ruminations on how to live well while dying.
I don’t blame them. Before I experienced it, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it either. The problem was that we couldn’t escape it because his cancer overtook our lives. The only way out was through. And “through” meant living with the knowledge of pending death and its attendant difficulties and practical realities. I often felt I should candy-coat the story for others to spare them the pain of it, though I tried hard not to.
This is where many people with stage 4 also known as advanced or metastatic cancer) and their families find themselves: isolated and worried about being a “downer” to everyone else. They are taunted by the excitement of the latest breakthroughs — immunotherapy, precision medicine, gene therapies, and the like — only to learn that none are deemed suitable for them. People with metastatic cancer know all too well that cancer kills people every day.
Dr Waseem Abbas
Cancer treatment specialist
Strength is the key in Cancer Treatment…
She was 8 when she started having fever, headache, and weight loss. Initially she went to paediatrician and was treated with so many antibiotics and even Anti-tubercular treatment. Then she was referred to us and was diagnosed with Leukaemia-Blood Cancer(Acute lymphoblastic leukemia). Initially she and her parents could not believe and then slowly absorbed the news and from here the story started. Now she is receiving treatment for a year and 8 months and has some more time to go. I treated her with chemotherapy and she also underwent so many transfusions, spinal taps and life threatening infections. She missed her school for one and a half years. Her parents also have to suffer a lot. They have to run arranging blood products, medical appointments, school activities of younger brother of girl. And also were trying to lead a normal life. She missed her friends .Her hair fell out she was always wearing a face mask. She kept asking me questions when will her treatment finish and why her treatment is so long for which i have no answer. Sometimes i saw her depressed. The nurses at our centre used to cheer her up and she has become so friendly with them , invites them for family functions.
Now her treatment is getting completed, she is doing well. Her hair is growing back. She has joined her school back. She is getting support from teachers and even one teacher goes to her house for extra teaching.
She now comes to our hospital regularly and is inspiration to other patients which i treat and helps me sometimes to cheer the families of patients.
Climb or Die— Helping others thrive
People who blog about their encounter with cancer come to find that their written work gives a support to other cancer patients. You’d be unable to find a patient when diagnosed with cancer who will not google about his illness and looks for his or her prognosis. And he will ask a million dollar question . “Am I going to die?”
Since advancements are going so quickly and one can find thousands of abstracts that can addle your brain and the outdated data you read will confuse and misguide you more. One one side before visting to the medical oncologist you think you know everything about your disease but on the other hand you are fooling yourself because internet will not give latest information published in journals . And obviously you are not an expert to interpret the data. Being diagnosed with cancer is like being dropped at the foot of a mountainous path at night and being told, “Climb or die.” What does that mean. What i am talking about here is about blogs and what blog to follow. After the diagnosis of cancer people become self centered and many bogs you would like to follow will be written to the own well being of the blogger.
I am trying to help cancer patients to find cancer mazes, which is very common after the life threatening disease like cancer and also trying to educate them what to read what not to. I have started to write blogs and being a cancer care specialist those bogs will be without bias. These blogs will reach new audience and i will able to share information about the various stages of cancer form others that have already walked in my clinic. People have told me that I’ve helped them understand their own cancer stories better.”
Dr Waseem Abbas
Cancer treatment specialist
She wanted to see her kids graduate..(Lung cancer patient)
Today one of my patient diagnosed with lung cancer came to see me in OPD . She was 45 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer and since then we have travelled a long journey together. Initially she was diagnosed with early lung cancer and then relapsed after 2 years. I still remember her concerns. She was angry, sad, frustrated. Why me? She kept asking me . She wanted to see her kids graduate . She had cancer in bones and lymph nodes. We did a repeat biopsy on her and she turned out to be EGFR mutation positive , means she could be treated with a pill,. I put her on tablet geftinib which is a targeted therapy. One year back her cancer did spread to brain. Her MRI showed one single metastasis. So the concerns were , will there be side effects from whole brain RT e.g, cognitive dysfunction. I told her she does not have to worry about that as there is a new technique called SBRT( Stereotactic brain radiation) , which means that only affected part of brain will be irradiated . Rest of brain will be spared. She is continuing with geftinib. Today was her 49th birthday and her kids have graduated.
Not always but this time happy ending of story.
I am a medical oncologist and believe me it makes my life difficult. Last month was very busy in terms of breaking bad news to patients. It gives me a miserable time. Is it not interesting, though, but one thing is that not always there is patient saying thanks at the end of consult and I want to hear this word ”thanks” when I have broken the worst of news.
Suddenly today I remembered the famous American poet Carver who died of lung cancer because of too much alcohol consumption and heavy smoking. He wrote a beautiful poem about what the doctor has said to him.
“What the Doctor Said,” by Raymond Carver:
He said it doesn’t look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I’m real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may even have thanked him having being so strong
This is called patient-doctor relationship that we are thanked for breaking sometimes disastrous and miserable news. Life goes on .
Just came to my mind that i should write about this strange feeling i am having from yesterday. One patient i saw yesterday in my clinic for the first time and after discussing treatment plan in detail for about an hour he started asking questions”Is he going to die”?I keep saying no that he will be fine but the man was not ready to believe me. I asked him to meet me next week and now i am thinking how to convince him . Because to believe is very important. Why ? I will tell you why. Truth is, doctors are not gods and nobody knows and nobody can say whether cancer patient is going to die or disease will come back. Oncologist’s job is to provide best treatment available.
First thing what i always say is that victory over cancer is a decision, not a happening. You do not have to be victorious for the tumor to go away. I have seen patients who had surgery or chemo and are cured can’t sleep. Why? Because they don’t know when it’s coming back and keep thinking a lot. So they’re tumor free, but not free of cancer. But i have seen few patients saying that cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me. Because earlier they used to take everything for granted and now they realise how beautiful the life is.
What i think it is important to have victory over cancer in mind then everything follows. If somebody decides to die it is very difficult to bring him back.
Some times i think, should we give cancer patients false hope or should we tell the truth. Are we the Oasis of hope or god is? If false hope is telling, you are going to live. What is true hope…you are dead?
There is hope or no hope.
I am confused
Please write comments. What do you think?
Under the wing of an angel, you feel protected
Through prayers to God, you feel connected
Peace is said to be offered on the wings of a dove
Prayers can bring peace along with hope, faith, and love
Wings of a jet plane provide steady flight
I pray you remain steady and strong through this fight
Butterflies have wings to fly playfully free
And free from this monster is what I pray you’ll soon be
Birds spread their wings as they may leave their nest
We’re spreading our prayers that you’ll always be Blessed.
Go fight and win this battle you didn’t start
On the wings of an angel and prayers from my heart
Dr Abbas Waseem
Cancer care specialist