Evolving With Cancer
Down To Earth|September 16, 2018
Evolving With Cancer

A Harvard oncologist takes Minti Jain, a cancer survivor, down memory lane as she finds moments of overlap.

CANCER IS “slowly becoming the thing that changed people’s lives, something they can speak of in past tense,” says David Scadden in Cancerland: A medical memoir. So true! My nasopharyngeal cancer, that struck nine years ago, surely changed my life. It took eight-nine months to be diagnosed, but once I had the MRI report confirming nasopharynx carcinoma in my hands, it was such a relief to finally know why I had excruciating pain on the right side of my face and head, that random nose bleed, that throwing up of blood, those sleepless nights. Earlier, I had no clue what the nasopharynx was. I had also never bothered to read about cancer.

Scadden, a Harvard oncologist, describes his knowledge of cancer as a child “equaling irredeemable loss, unspoken of, incomprehensible and deeply sad”. That was exactly the feeling in the living room as I showed the lab report to my large family. There was a deathly silence as I stood there, unperturbed. My uncle then whacked me hard and asked me to cry as he hugged me. I did cry.

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September 16, 2018