Tuesday 29 January 2013

An Unexpected Gift

A couple months ago I was introduced by a friend to the Marathon Bloggers Group, this group consists of bight, talented individuals and I feel lucky to be part of it.

Recently, I posted my Euro Trip adventure and I left my few but loyal readers with some unanswered questions about my life.

Q) Did I get reunited with my bags?
A) Yes I did when I flew back to Russia to get my connecting flight back home.

Q) What pain did I experience?
A) I will reveal this mystery later

It’s been 4 years 9 months since that trip however it has left an indelible imprint on my mind. Picking up from where I left off … When I reached Bombay the pain subsided and I thought it was a muscle pull and was a little irritated for being so paranoid. 

My early return didn’t raise any alarm bells as I didn’t tell my folks for how long I was going to be away, so they thought it was a short quick trip. I unpacked and asked my dad if he wanted to take a trip to Manali, as I still had 10 days of leave remaining. 

He agreed as long as I took care of the persistent cough I had. I agreed and we went to the doctor she said it was an allergy or some viral flu and I took some meds after a few days when the cough didn’t subside I went to another doctor.

Dr Sajnani (this man is truly Awesome) , checked me and then checked me again, he seemed a bit alarmed, he asked me to get an x-ray done and referred me to Dr JP Jadwani. I got the x-ray and when the doctor saw it, he told me that there was a mass pressing against my heart; this was causing the tiredness, cough and pain.

I can sense some OMG reactions right now and some confusion why I titled this post as ‘An Unexpected Gift’

He then asked me to get a biopsy done. I went to Holy Family Hospital; it was the 1st time in my life I was in a hospital, I hated going to the hospital, even to visit someone. I was just too terrified.

Post the biopsy, I anxiously waited for the results, I had a niggling feeling that it would not be positive and I prepared myself for the worst.

3 days later the results were back, it was the 2nd of May 2008, I remember holding the report, looking into the mirror and saying… “Wow James you sure got something interesting to talk about”

I was a 29year old non-smoker, teetotaller and I of all people, was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. The news had not sunk in and I just thought a few chemo sessions would eliminate this disease and I would be back on my feet.

My oncologist advised me about what was going to happen, she told me I would lose all my hair and I was cool with that. She prescribed 4 sessions of chemo. 

Session 1 was a breeze and I thought this was not so bad, however post the session I got the privilege to experience the wonderful side effects, of Chemo. 
I was unable to retain any food for 2 weeks post the session, whatever I ate, drank came spewing out a few minutes later. I would eat so that I could puke food and water, cause if i didn't I would puke bile and that hurt, really hurt. I would vomit on an average 20+ times a day.

As soon as the effects of the drug would wear off, and I was able to retain food the 2nd session was due.

By the 3rd session I had given up, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Chemo was too painful, the drug that entered my veins felt like injecting air bubbles in your vein and I experience that 24 hours a day for 6 days (per session). I would rather be eaten alive by ants than go through another session. 

The fact that I had just one more session gave me the confidence to fight this incredible pain.

Post the 4th session I went back to the doc and thought the worst was over, well let’s just say that the worst was yet to come, the doc said I needed 2 more sessions. I refused I just didn’t want to go through any more sessions. I didn’t care about anything. My family tried to coax me but I was just so fed up and tired.

I don’t recall what made me change my mind, but I did. I endured 2 more excruciating sessions and I was done. I dropped from 59kilos to 29 kilos in 5 months. After a few weeks I gained about 5 kilos with all the vitamins I was taking.

I went back to the doctor and the tumor was still present and I had to be operated. I went to Hinduja and met Dr Lala Murad, a fine young doctor who told me that I would probably lose one lung, however I could lead a normal life,  I was not really worried about it.

I remember getting prepped for surgery and admiring the operation theater, the anesthesiologist told me that I would feel very sleepy. I remember thinking this doesn’t seem to be working and then I was woken up … The doctor was smiling as I was wheeled out of the theater … he kept saying "we saved your lung

I gave him the thumbs up sign and I realized I had tubes all over me. I was in the ICU for 2 days. After a month I was fit enough to walk, although I felt some pain.

I resumed work a month later and in time I gained weight and some hair. If you are wondering why I titled this post as ‘An Unexpected Gift' it’s because I took good health and life for granted.

Cancer wiped out all my savings, but what it gave me is a deeper appreciation of life and people around me. I started to LIVE life rather than just exist. I made it a point to meet new people, interact more often, travel, and have fun.

I spent whatever I earned going out with my team for lunches, movies, dinners, and picnics. In 2009 I had gone for over 20 picnics with my team. There was a point where we would go out every single day of the week.

I got a new lease on life and I am grateful for whatever I’ve got. I have got 6 people to quit smoking and I hope they continue to stay that way.

I learned that life can be planned only too some extent and there is no point sweating over the little stuff you got to take risks, enjoy life and live each day as if it’s your last.


  1. its an honor to know people with such high spirits... kudos... such a beautiful gift.. i dont understand the value as much as you but i started respecting the tiny pleasures of like when a few years back i lost my parents.. such an irreparable loss that u understand, u have to value life.. i bow down for this post.. keep rocking life as ever!

    1. Hey Swati, thank you for your kind comment.. as humans we often do take everything that comes easily to us for granted, and we do it unconsciously when we are disappointing about the things we don't have, or unhappy with the way we look. Losing a parent is indeed an irreparable loss, My mum passed away 6 years ago and I almost lost my dad last year. Take care :)

  2. I don't know what to write but different thoughts and memories are running in my head and I can't even express it...

    You are a WINNER!

  3. Wow James!! I definitely could have not had an inkling of what the post was about, on seeing the title! It is so inspiring to read about your experience, and especially the upbeat character of the entire post just amazes me. May you stay strong, and may you keep experiencing life to the fullest always :) !

    1. Thanks Aparna :) I remember getting an email years ago on choices. You can either choose to wallow in self pity and feel sad or you can choose to be happy and frankly speaking it's not that hard. We do face set backs and disappointments and it's tough to always look for that silver lining but it's there. I do get sad and disappointed but it is only for a short time. Thank you again and wish you a great life

  4. This is such an amazing story James. I am so glad u got through the whole experience - truly it does give a different spin on life does it not? May you always maintain the same zest for life and stay healthy for lots more years :) Not everybody would be as positive as you have been, truly a very unexpected gift!

  5. You are truly an inspiration, James!
    Such a positive spirit comes to very rare people. Wishing you the best of health, always!
    Such stories inspire other people like us to shed our short term view of life and live more deeply. Thanks for sharing. Keep rocking!

    1. Thank you so much Uma, wish you too the best of health :)

  6. I dont know what to say! Firstly I felt a little cheated by the post title.. I was looking for something light. Secondly by the end of the post, though, I found the title apt.
    I have never fought for anything in life and I am spoiled that way. Even the little #firstworldpains as they call them,set me back a lot. I need to learn to appreciate life. I will start with being a follower to you . I have a lot to learn here.

    Thank you for this post :)

  7. now thats the best I have read today.
    you sure gave me a little more confidence in keep spreading smiles and living as best as I think .

  8. Hi James...I never knew you were going through such a bad phase. As you know, I too am a follower of Jesus. I feel bad at not having been able to reach out when you were in pain. The disease was sent by satan to kill you - but God's mercy and goodness brought you through it all. Give glory to Him and keep thanking Him. Visit my blog for Bible facts about healing. Just type 'healing' in the search box and read through all of them. I have been through several sicknesses in my life and precisely know what pain is. Visit http://ketanrindani.blogspot.com

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