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Timely Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

By Dr Jayanti Thumsi

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

T. S. Eliot

While I was doing my Masters in English I never understood what Eliot was trying to convey regarding the interconnectedness of time though I greatly appreciated his work. Way back it was only philosophy but today in context to cancer treatment it is a brutal truth. Prior to disclosing to Arpan (my son) from Chennai where I was for a workshop, I was suspicious that all is not well with me. It was symptomatic.

I felt a lump appear and disappear, redden and lighten and my resistance to fight simple ailments greatly reduced. Yet I choose to remain in a state of self denial. I felt it is easier to succumb to cancer rather than treat it, for in my head I went through all that I had seen and heard attending to my friends during their treatment. This was sheer ignorance for medical science has greatly advanced and the survival rates are much higher today. I wish I had not behaved and reacted that way.

The truism that all time is eternally present and impacts cancer treatment comes to the forefront when the technician at the Diagnostic centre on 24 February ensured that I cancelled my visit to San Francisco for a team meeting. I was leaving that night and could not find logic in what difference would eight days make in initiating the treatment.

Doctors insist on early detection and early initiation of treatment for cancer. How they walked their talk is illustrative in my case.

Within 4 days beginning 24 February I completed all tests from mammogram, ultrasound, FNA, MRI, PET scan, etc including collaborative review by doctors. With all facilities being available under one roof and reports being shared in a computerized network at the BGS Global Hospital, everything was falling into place with precision. On 1 March I was wheeled into the operation theatre and the tumors from my left breast were removed. My daughter and husband got to see the malignant lump that was removed.

Dr. Jayanti made the ordeal of undergoing surgery so easy by telling us what is planned and what could be the expected outcomes. Her entire persona speaks to you in a language so comforting.

In the following three nights I spent in the hospital I vividly recall my daughter Anisha coming up to me and telling me,“Ma it is all in your mind. If you feel well here, you will be fine soon”. I smiled to myself and realized that my little one had truly grown for I often told my children that if you decide to do something in your life, you just have to put your mind and heart to it and give your 100 %. Through the entire treatment she has been such a calming influence.

On 4 March I was discharged to go home, exactly the day I was to return to Bangalore after the team meeting at US. I am glad I heeded the advice of my AMO and initiated timely treatment.

A delayed response to report to doctors and to get started on treatment will only result in progression of cancer. Time is critical in cancer treatment.

Benjamin Franklin remarks “You may delay, but time will not.”

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