'It's a germ cell tumour.'
"Right now, it's spread to the lungs, and there is a tiny one in the brain. Not to worry Munna, we just need to act fast, one operation to remove the major tumour and then we start chemotherapy.'
My father stared across at Dr. Malpani. From possible Tuberculoma to Cancer. Quite the leap. Well. This was news. Surprising? No. I think we were shell shocked as we sat across the table from the Doctor. It took maybe a minute for my Father to compose ourselves as I sat dully in the chair across from Dad, my legs crossed, my mind racing over the implications of what had just been said.
Surprisingly, there were very few tears. Oh, maybe initially, I shed a few, as the initial news seeped in, and my father too, quite obviously - as we walked back to the car together - but then they soon dried out, and by the time we got to the car, we got down to a pretty calm discussion. First things first. We called home.
My grandfather picked up the phone, and we conveyed the news. Needless to say, a few tears were shed again, my grandfather being an emotional person and stuff, as is my father. My sister got to know as well. More tissues went down the drain. I was slowly beginning to accept what had happened - nothing of that dull what-just-hit-me feelings, I just knew that I had something, and this was confirmation, and that it was now time to get down to action - and I was relieved. A pragmatic, practical approach was the best way forward - I needed to become, not detached, but positive. That, as they all say, is half the battle won.
You know what happens next. Frantic calls, some Trans-Atlantic to my relatives in Toronto - my father's sister and her husband flew over immediately - as well as to everybody we possibly know in India - and this is a lot of people - followed, and then long discussions into the night, to which I wasn't privy - not because I wasn't interested or allowed, but because I'd rather take some time to think on my own.
Friends called in, both on the phone, and turned up in troupes at my house - along with teachers, and everyone who could possibly come over - and we shared some food, talked quite a bit; everybody was as positive as possible, telling me I would get better as soon as possible, and to get back to Dubai as fast as I could - my main chemotherapy treatment would be at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai - and all the usual stuff, you know, not to worry about studies and university application at the minute as this was far, far more important.
I realized that. What I also realized was that after I got through this - here's the thing, there's not an iota of doubt in my mind that I'm getting past this stumbling block - I would still need to go to University on time, not a year late, and I want to give my Diploma examinations as well. So with an enormous amount of help from friends - truly special, I don't think I could have got anywhere without what they did in a day or two, cramming a month's work by forgetting their own problems for a bit - I got my University Applications in well ahead of time; ironically, the very same people who helped with all my Applications are now running around getting their's filled out.
Well, the first two cycles of chemotherapy are over, and everything's looking all rosy - my day seems to consist of reading, writing, studying, and most importantly, eating (food forms a major part of my daily itinerary now, I look forward with glee to the next meal, because everyone wants to cook food, and I want to eat it, the perfect symbiotic relationship) - the prognosis is excellent and the doctors seem to be extremely cheery about my prospects, and I've got a lot of free time on my hands, so yes, it's going great so far. See, I keep telling myself, Cancer and chemotherapy are not all that they're hyped up to be. I'm partly writing this to explode the horror stories and myths about chemotherapy that are associated with ALL types of cancer, because there are some that are worse and some that are not so bad, like mine. If getting lucky in terms of cancer diagnosis is like striking an oil field, then I just struck one the size of the Texas.
So, in the end, I guess it comes down to the fact that life throws you a few curve balls as you go along, and I've dealt with my share of them. This looks to be quite a twister, but with all that help and support and positivism floating around, and a little bit of luck, this one is going to get knocked out of the park.