There was a time, even a few years ago, when the word, ‘cancer’, spread terror across family and friends alike the moment it was detected. But, today, with rapid development in medical science, more and more people are able to win over this deadly ailment. Not only are they surviving cancer, but also returning to their earlier lives with smiles on their faces, thanks to the patient support of the medical fraternity that, probably, even near and dear ones cannot manage in those dreadful moments.
The world of one teacher from the North 24-Parganas, in Bengal, came crashing down a few years ago when he was detected with cancer. But, with rapid advancement in medical science today, Biplab Chakraborty, 59, underwent all the modalities of cancer treatment — chemotherapy, surgery and radiation — for ‘cheek gland’ cancer in 2011 and is now back to normal life.
Octogenarian Panchu Gopal Aditya speaks with a mechanical ring. The retired headmaster from Bankura uses an external device, ‘electrolarynx’, that he physically holds against his throat when he speaks as he had to undergo ‘total laryngectomy’ (removal of voice box surgery).
Chakraborty and Aditya were among several survivors of head and neck cancer surgery who overcame their inhibitions and spoke about an extremely tumultuous period of their lives — cancer and its treatment. They discussed on stage the sudden detection of cancer which put the brakes on their lives, the emotional turmoil, the physical pain, and also about returning to normal life riding on the advances in modern surgical techniques and medication.
Doctors who had treated them sat in rapt attention as the cancer surgery survivors spoke their hearts out, detailing everything — from the reactions they encountered from various sections of society when the news of their cancer spread, to the pivotal role of the clinical psychological counselling available at Apollo Gleneagles Cancer Centre, Kolkata, in soothing their nerves.
The hospital support
They also spoke of the state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge equipment at the cancer centre — housed in a separate six-storey building — that helped attain positive outcomes and resulted in reduced hospital stay in their cases.
“I’m extremely happy with the treatment I received at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals. Dr Nipun Saha, under whom I was admitted, clarified all the doubts my family and I had before each step of the treatment. I’ve resumed my daily activities,” said Aditya, who speaks with the assistance of an electrolarynx. “When I go to the local bazaar in Bankura, the shopkeepers, who are of my grandchildren’s age, ask me to speak a little more than required using the device because the mechanical sound amuses them and I happily oblige,” he said in a lighter vein.