The next day my husband and I went to meet the oncologist without my parents. It was a Saturday, my parents were scheduled to fly back home the next day. The result of FNAC was coming on Monday as the pathologist was off duty because of the weekend and the wait was killing all of us. The oncologist calmly answered all our queries and assured us that treatment for breast cancer has advanced significantly in the last decade. She suggested for a mammogram also. As for me, I kept searching her face for a hint of relief, kept waiting for her to say that we do not have to go through this ordeal…but she never did. She kept telling us to cancel my parents’ tickets as she doubted that they will come back for treatment if they ever leave Bangalore. She said she will contact me as soon as she gets the result of the FNAC test.
As I sat outside the hospital I broke down….cried my eyes out. I didn’t care if anyone was watching or not. There were passers-by giving me weird glances but nothing mattered at that time. I just wanted to drown myself in the pain. There I was sitting with my world crashing down and everything else in the world is the same. Everything was just fine till yesterday and now everything has changed. Everytime I tried to make myself strong and took deep breaths to keep myself together I lost it all the more. Finally my husband coaxed me that we will ride some more, get some air before we go home and kept telling me not to break down before my parents. We drove around the city for sometime. Finally we decided to go home. I was surprised at myself as to how casually I responded to my parents. They inquired and I just told them that there is nothing to worry and that we might need a surgery or not, as soon as the result came out. My mother seemed convinced but my Dad wasn’t…later he came to both of us and asked for the truth. My husband and I looked at each other, made my father sit and told him the truth – that there is a high chance that the tumour is malignant, and surgery is to be done immediately, followed by biopsy and depending on biopsy result the chemotherapy and radiation will be decided. He said to himself “She will be fine. All this will not happen”.
For us, the most taxing question was to let them go back home or not…we discussed with my parents, siblings and uncles and decided that they go back home and return to Bangalore on Wednesday. My parents had come to Bangalore on a vacation and were not mentally prepared to face the surprising turn of events; it was best for them especially for my Mom to go home and come again for the sole purpose of treatment. Atleast they will get some time to sink in everything. It was important for her to accept this before we start this grueling task…and so they went home with a heavy heart…full of doubts and fear not knowing that the worst was yet to come.
There was this eerie silence in the house after they left, this fear that is lurching at all of us and I was finding very hard to calm down and find peace. Everytime I try to sleep I would run short of breath and would feel as if suddenly I am running out of air; everytime I tried to eat something I could not even take a single bite…everything was surreal and I didn’t know how to handle it. Some of our friends came to visit us and comfort us; only after they came I could fall asleep in our couch listening to their voices; atleast the eerie silence was gone.
I went for work on Monday; getting startled every time my phone beeped. It was around lunch time when our doctor messaged that she got the verbal report from the pathologist and it is malignant. I read the message and suddenly felt light and almost fell down. I searched for a chair and sat down. I went to the bathroom and cried; how do I muster up the courage to tell everyone? Finally I called my husband and told him; he was also devastated. I then called my brother and told him too; he felt silent and choked as he spoke. He asked “So what should we do, Che”? I told him I will do the tickets right away; told him to decide who is coming with Mom and also strictly told him not to tell too much to her. He said OK.
My brother and Mom were coming; Dad had to stay back as someone had to look after the house. My brother wanted to be a part of the ordeal that was coming and be with Mom. Both of them reached on Wednesday. The next day she was asked to take full rest and the day after we went to meet our oncologist. By then, the FNAC result had come and it was found to be malignant. Mama did a PET CT scan to check if the tumour had spread to other parts of the body; luckily the report came to be good. Her surgery date was decided on February 21, 2017.
My Mama is a deeply spiritual person and her spirituality manifested in the best possible way during the course of her treatment. The day of surgery, she got up really early, prayed, visited the nearby temple, meditated and finally told us “I am ready!” My husband, my brother and me went to hospital, got her admitted, did all the proceedings and we were given one shared room, the next day was her surgery. The day of surgery all of us went to meet her…she was cheerful and told us that she slept well the previous night. The nurse came and announced that she has to be taken to the Operation theatre, she changed her clothes and sat down to pray. Then she held each one of our hand and prayed for all of us, I was all broken inside. The nurses turned away and let us have that moment. She said she is scared that she is going to be unconscious; that she had read stories of patients not coming back to sense after anaesthesia…we assured her she will be fine. We followed her as long as we could until the nurses told that we cant be let in. Then we stood there and waited…hoping, praying and trying not to lose my sanity.
(to be continued)