MY APPROACH TO BEATING CANCER !
Anupkumar Shetty, MD, a Nephrologist, Author of Hinduism Simplified and an upcoming book on Surviving Cancer.
Namaste (I bow to the divine in you). I am a survivor of cancer of the rectum which is the terminal part of the large intestine, also called colon. At the time of diagnosis in 2004, I was 41yrs old and had a young wife and 2 little children who needed me. I am hoping that my story will resonate with many of you for good different reasons and help heal and deal with cancer better. If you are a caregiver, I hope that this writing will help you help a family member or a friend dealing with cancer. My story is also one about problem solving, and hence is relevant to all the problem solvers in the world, which includes all of us. One of the first things I realized was that I owed myself and my family the best effort to get the best available care in this whole world. I also felt that the best effort had to come together the first time ever. I was fortunate and was grateful to be in a place where the best treatment was accessible to me. I felt blessed that the US has some of the finest cancer centers in the world and I had health insurance and other resources to afford the care that was necessary even though I grew up with very limited resources. I felt grateful that I had an amazing and diverse group of family and friends who played important role in my recovery. I felt grateful that I learnt about the ‘infinity’ within me that gave me infinite strength to heal me.
I owe that success to the following factors:
1. I got the best medical care available in the world, the very first time : One of the first things I realized was that I owed myself and my family the best effort to get the best available care in this whole earth. I was fortunate to get that best care between the doctors in Dallas and at MD Anderson Cancer center (MDACC), Houston.
2. Playing with the best team as though it was the last game of my ‘world cup finals’. My winning team consisted of doctors (Dr Maryada Reddy, a close friend and Oncologist; Dr John Cox, my treating Oncologist in Dallas; Dr M Ajani, my Oncologist at MD Anderson who recommended the best chemotherapy regimen that was conventional at the time; Dr Armond Schwartz, a gifted gastroenterologist in Dallas; Dr Narinder Monga, the best colorectal surgeon in Dallas; Dr John Skibber from MDACC, one of the best surgeons in the world for colo-rectal cancer with passion for anal sphincter preservation; Dr Slomovich, Radiation Oncologist at Methodist Dallas; Anesthesiologists at MDACC who made my surgery painless and minimized pain during my recovery, Dr Imran Afridi, one of the best Cardiologists in Dallas, nurses, other health care providers, Methodist Dallas Medical Center and M D Anderson Cancer Center, my wife (Mala), my children (Eesha and Krishna), my parents, my brothers (Kishore and Ashok), my sisters (Asha and Shakku), my parents in law, my sisters in law, brothers in law, my friends (Raju, Srinivas, Sumit and many others), my religious guides (Swami Sarveshananda and Raju), my mentor (Late Dr D G Oreopoulos), my colleagues at Dallas Nephrology Associates (Dr Ruben Velex, Dr Late Karl Brinker, Dr Late Freda Levy and many others), my circle of close friends Sudipta/Seema, Dhruv/Savita, Kalvala Rao/Geeta, Vivek/Manjusha, Raj/Vijji, Vinay/Kanan, Anita/Ganesh, Sujata/Ramki, Gopal, Anand, Sangita and Ram, Mahesh and Sandhya, Gunapal, Sudha, Purnima, Raymon, Dev Malladi, Uncle Krishnamurthy Malladi and many others have helped me in unique and special ways, thanks to all of them. Nemiraj Rai, my good friend who introduced me to Dr Ajani was an important member of the team. All the nurses, social workers, patient care technicians, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, dieticians and other health providers at MDACC and Methodist Dallas Medical Center had important role in my recovery; the Radiologists and Pathologists at both MDACC and MDMC had important contributions to my recovery. In cricket, in addition to the 11 players who play, there are back up players, coach, assistant coaches, physiotherapists, nutrition experts, team doctors, statisticians and many others. All of them have their own unique roles in the team success. Similarly I had many members in my special team and they all responded at the right time.
3. ‘Infinity’ in me. You can call it God. My immense faith in the Hindu mahavaakhya, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ which means ‘That Thou Art’ or ‘you are that (divine reality)’ empowered, energized and healed me.
4. Good rest, yoga, meditation, prayers, some potion of Homeopathic medicines, healthy and predominantly vegetarian diet, healthy water (no sodas), healthy air (no smoking) and loving family and friends.
5. Blessings, prayers and love from my parents, teachers, family, friends and my patients.
6. Good luck!