…..when diagnosed with cancer in Nepal

Yes, you read it right. My title for this post goes, when you are diagnosed with cancer in Nepal.

In October of 2010, my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Let me start with a little background on this. In May 0f 2010, I graduated from University. As I used to talk to my mum over skype on daily basis whenever possible, I remember, she complained of some kind of mild to moderate pain in her stomach. We asked her to visit a doctor from time to time but since my mum never had any health issues and followed a healthy lifestyle, we never even guessed something like cancer would happen to her. She has been meditating everyday since the year 2002. She always used to brag about how meditation cured all her health issues and it brought happiness in her life and she could easily let go of anger. She always encouraged us(rest of the family members) to meditate as well. I used to sit with her now and then in the puja(prayer) room and meditate with her but none of us took it as seriously as she did. Then one day, she went to the hospital to get herself thoroughly checked as many of her friends from meditation group were going. I remember she happily reported everything was normal. Then, one fine day, she was leaving for mama ghar (my maternal uncle’s house) with Kancha (our helper at home) on a bike. Kancha was not too confident about driving the bike and my mum was nervous too, so as soon as Kancha took off, they slipped and had a minor accident. That day, my mum went to mama ghar, made some chicken curry, stayed there until dinner and came home at night. She felt fine the whole day but the next morning she had severe body ache so when me and my brother insisted, she went to a nearby hospital for a check up. They said she was alright and there is nothing to worry. Several month passed this incident and my mum complained about stomach pain now and then but she assured us it was just a little bit of pain and there was nothing to worry about.

After I finished my graduation, I visited my brother in Australia, stayed there for a month and a half and headed back to Nepal. Everyone was so happy at home when I arrived in Kathmandu, dashain was approaching and we were all looking forward to tika at home, I had missed the last two Dashain with family. So the humdrum of Dashain began. Bua was very excited and bought a goat that year as I was home. He loves to cook and he is a big fan of goat meat.

So one day before tika, mum did all the housework, cooking cleaning and we all ate a fair amount of meat that day. I was upstairs with my cousins during dinner time. I asked my cousin sister, “Where’s mum?”, she said Thulmum(elder mum, she is my mum’s sister’s daughter) is not feeling well today so she’ll skip dinner. My mum seldom skips dinner, if she is not well, she will eat something light but I do not remember any other instance when she has skipped dinner. So I went down to her room to check on her. She was lying down on her bed and trying to sleep, I gently woke  her up and asked if she wanted any milk and cookies. She said, I just have a terrible stomach ache, it may be due to a lot of meat, I just had a glass of Eno, so I’m fine. I told her, I will boil some milk and keep it in the room, if you feel hungry later, please drink the milk mum. Saying this, I switched off the light and went upstairs to get some milk for her.

Next day was tika I think, I don’t exactly remember. Bua and me wanted to take her to the hospital since she had been complaining about her stomach ache quite a lot these days, but that day she woke up early, went to the puja room, did her daily chores and when I saw her, she looked absolutely fine. My mum has the warmest smile that can make you feel good on any situation. She had that smile on her that day, so I just assumed we could wait for few more days until the hospitals started fully operating after Dashain was over.

Then two days after Dashain, we took her to one of the renowned doctors in town, she asked her few questions and advised for Ultrasound. Her ultrasound results were fine but she still had that persistent pain. So Bua insisted for an endoscopy (me and my brother had already done a little research in this subject and we sort of had an idea on what to do next if the ultrasound report was normal). At that time these were the exact words said by the doctor, “I know she is fine coz her Ultrasound report is normal, but for your satisfaction, we can have an endoscopy done.”

On the day of her endoscopy, my cousin sister dropped my mum to the hospital on the way to her office and my mum was to return back home by a taxi. I was at home that day, it took her a little longer to come back than anticipated so I was a bit worried. When she came back an hour or so late, I went down to pick her up from the taxi and brought her upstairs in her room. She complained that the procedure was very painful and they had a pipe shoved down her throat and the test lasted for almost one hour!! I think at that time, I didn’t react much, just listened to her talk about the experience and that was it. We were waiting for the report. The report was due next day in the afternoon. Since my cousins’ office was next to the hospital, she was the one who would go and pick up the report. She went there during her lunch hour and the person who handed her the report asked her to see the doctor as well. She went to see the doctor and the doctor told her to come with her father and he would talk about my mum’s endoscopy report. That evening when she came home with the report, she was a bit nervous as she told us what happened at the hospital. I looked at the report and googled it. It indicated CANCER but I was in denial. I thought, this may be advanced form of ulcer, no way my mum would have cancer!! She lead a healthy life, meditated everyday, always had home cooked meal, didn’t smoke or drink and so on….

The next day, Mum, Bua and me went to the hospital together. It was jam packed!! We waited for over an hour to meet the doctor. We all went in at first, then the doctor asked my mum to wait outside for a while. Then he told us, my mum had stomach cancer and that it looked like it was in an advanced stage. I don’t exactly remember what his advice was after that, I think he asked us to go to another hospital for further treatment or wait for biopsy report. Bua and I were speechless, we didn’t know what to do and what to say to each other. We both felt numb, we couldn’t react. I think I asked few questions to the doctor before we left the room, like “Are you absolutely certain?”, he said, “I’m afraid I am!!”. The next thought in my head was to go and show this report to the lady doctor who had confidently said endoscopy would be unnecessary. Bua instantly agreed to visit her, our intention was to let her know the result so that she would not miss such diagnosis in future. When we showed her the report, she was startled, she referred us to a surgeon who had absolutely no experience in oncology!! As we walked out of the hospital, our first instinct was to take her to Delhi, where there was a hospital dedicated solely to treatment of cancer.

….and this is how our fight with cancer began, I will write in episodes about our battle with cancer. Today my mum is in Kathmandu and she has to visit the cancer hospital in Delhi once in every three months. By God’s grace, she is doing well. She makes me so proud, I feel blessed to have a mum who is as strong as her.

I am not sure how helpful this post will be for all of you, but I hope you will be able to pick up some pattern and take careful steps in your own lives. Before I end this post, let me make a list of things to do before and after diagnosis of cancer in Nepal.

Things to do before and after diagnosis of cancer in Nepal:(Please note that I am not referring to any professional websites while writing this post, it is written completely from my personal reference of my mum’s diagnosis of cancer)

1. If you have a persistent pain on any of your body part, please visit a doctor and have yourself thoroughly checked. In Nepal, I have seen that doctors tend to hurry to the next patient. So be prepared with the questions you need to ask and a little research before the visit would help a lot.

2. Five early signs of cancer are(from memory): 1. A sore throat or cough that does not heal 2. A wound that does not heal. A wart that is sore. 3. A lump/wart (small/big) on your body that grows over time 4. Blood in stool, cough and urine 5. Constipation. If you have any of these signs, please visit your doctor to check if everything is ok.

3. Get yourself regularly checked up, consider atleast once in a year as mandatory. In Nepal, there is no concept of regular health check ups. And if you or your mom/dad are over 40 or 50, then twice in a year wouldn’t hurt. And do not be shy to tell a doctor about all of your problems even if you think they are silly. In Nepal, many doctors tend to discourage you to have a long talk with the doctor specially because of their busy schedule but do not hesitate to take as much time as you need until you have full knowledge of your health condition or until you are fully satisfied of the diagnosis.

4. After the doctor has confirmed your biopsy report, my personal advice would be to request for the slide of your sample from where you had your biopsy done and consider going to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in New Delhi, Rohini. In kathmandu, the most reliable lab is Blue cross laboratories in Tripureswor. Do not trust any other lab reports. Sometimes it would take more than one biopsy to verify your diagnosis of cancer.

5. The doctors might suggest you to consider treatment in Kathmandu since the cancer is in early stage and so on, but weigh your options carefully before you begin your treatment in Ktm. Dr. Sudip Shrestha is an Oncologist practicing in Kathmandu, he can be available either at Om Hospital or Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital. You can consult him first for his opinion before you consider Delhi. I would still recommend you to go to New Delhi for a second opinion.

6. Collect some cash before you go to Delhi for treatment. One surgery typically costs around  500,000 INR in average. The cost of Chemo would be 50,000 INR in average/session, but please note that the cost varies with the kind of cancer diagnosis.

7. Trust in higher power and have faith, faith, trust and hope is something that gives you strength and courage to face all the obstacles during your journey of fighting cancer.

I will be writing more about my experience in cancer hospital during my mum’s treatment. Stay tuned!

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18 Comments

Filed under Cancer

18 responses to “…..when diagnosed with cancer in Nepal

  1. A

    Appreciate the details on the writing… frankly, wouldn’t be able to remember past in such detail… personal guidelines you’ve mentioned surely would be of great help to all… should post it in other related blogs. We Nepalese are much careless on health factors and do not have proper counseling for the same…

    keep the good things going…

  2. Jimbo

    Very helpful post, my mom is having similar problem, could you please write experience you had in Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital.

  3. Pingback: When in Cancer Hospital-Week 1 | meromusings

  4. aman

    I dont know if its too late for me to post here, but i am expecting a reaply .
    my mother just got diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 2B, so i am really worried, helplees & hopeless….i am not very sure about treament in nepal as we have a to wait long time for radiation therapy….if i take my mother to rajiv gandhi hospital ..how fast the treament will start ..i am afraid if we have to wait there too for a long time , then it will be very difficult , & we will be wasting our time , getting no treatment neither in nepal or delhi…. we know no one in delhi, so living there getting treatment, must be hard …i dont know what to do ..please please help !!!

    • In our case the treatment started as soon as we got there and didn’t have to wait for radiation as well. I would suggest you to take her to Delhi for quick treatment as my experience was good there. As soon as we knew abt her cancer we took her to Delhi. I will pray for your Mom, don’t worry much but make sure that she gets the treatment fast and gets the optimal care. Stay strong and I wish for her to be well soon!

      • aman

        Thank you very much for praying !
        Just got confirmend with doctor, my mother is having her chemo-radio therapy from sunday (after 3 days) , eveything is set now. So now i am confused whether to go ahead with treament here at bharatpur cancer hospital, or take her to delhi because it will take some time like preparation, arrangements,go to delhi & then re-do hospital investigations , also wait few days for another biopsy there, & then treatment , it will probably be few weeks. Also we dont know anyone there, we`ll be on our own at foreign soil & foreign people. Atleast here are few workers in bharatpur whom i know personally so its better & friendly environment .so i am thinking to go ahead with treatment here in nepal. Bharatpur cancer hospital is also very good i heard..
        But anyway what matters is my mothers health in the end .
        so please let me know ur opinion / advice .
        Thanks Again, Means a lot to me & my family !

      • I cannot comment how good/bad Bharatpur hospital is as we didn’t get our Mom treated there. Yes, if you go to Delhi, you’ll have to leave everything that you are doing currently and give full time to her health. There are a lot of cancer patients in Delhi and its a hospital dedicated to cancer treatment so the doctors have experience and will provide the latest care. Again as you said, the tests will be redone and everything will need to be confirmed at their end. So its up to you to decide accordingly. Good luck!

      • aman

        thanks, & one last thing . how long did your mother had treatment there in delhi & how much did it cost all together . I know it depends on cancer, surgeries & radio & chemo cycles but overall how much it cost in her case …? Srry to ask this ,just worried , lots going in my mind right now , because we are average middle class family , so i am afraid wat if we get there & get started with treatment & run out of money & leave the treatment in the process
        Thanks !!

      • In our case, first there was surgery which cost around 1.25 lakh+ in IC. Then after one month of surgery began Chemo and Radio. Each Chemo session cost around 25K+. The radiation therapy was also 1.25 lakh+. This was only the flat bill for treatment. Besides that we had taken a flat near the hospital and rent was around 10K per month I think and then there was air tickets, travel and sometimes unexpected cost can be there for example if the patient gets infection during chemo then there will be extra cost. So overall, it is very costly to get the treatment there. We put everything we had for this treatment. I can understand that an average family in Nepal has a lot of difficulties and we had it too. I am happy to help you with whatever information I have, pls feel free to ask me anything.

  5. Jimbo

    Hi Aman

    I have been to Delhi too for my mother’s treatment. Luckily she didnt have cancer, just tumour. Now she is fine. If you need any information or help in Delhi please let me know. My email address is foxes_11@hotmail.com

    Jimbo

    • aman

      Hi Jimbo
      thanks a lot, Doctors in nepal we have been consulting are being postive & my mother treatment ( radio + chemo) is going to start after 2days. so right now we have decided to treat her at bharatpur cancer hospital nepal, mainly due to her convenience & its starting quickly in 2days. i really hope ervything will be fine .But i will contact u if i need any help , thanks again, means a lot, God bless !!!

  6. Sushil Manandhar

    Yes it is really helpful for everybody who has been searching for treatment for Cancer.

  7. Noori

    Please let me know how to find accommodation near the hospital in Delhi and also how safe is the area fro girls?

    • We talked to other Nepali patients to get the contact of rental space. We stayed at sector 6, I’d consider the area safe during daylight however I would advise not to travel in the evening or early morning.

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