Cancer is no more a death knell!

Availing medical treatment at first symptoms can beat the deadly disease

Dr. Ashwani K. Malhotra

Opinionmaker @The Hush Post

* A 54-year-old Rakesh (name-changed) was a chain-smoker and chewed umpteen pouches of the tobacco rich paan masalas popularly known as gutka. To the consternation of his wife and children he would keep on coughing and no amount of coaxing would deter him. One day he coughed up blood. After days of dilly-dallying he finally visited a neighbourhood self-styled doctor who gave him some pills. He was relieved temporarily of the symptoms but when he had recurrent bouts of blood while coughing and one day when he coughed up a large amount of blood leaving him breathless, weak and exhausted he was wheeled into the emergency wing of a hospital, where after a battery of investigations he was diagnosed with cancer of the lung at an advanced stage. Within months, he died. If only he had paid heed the first time and got proper treatment, he would have lived for years!


Cancer is curable and many people have conquered cancer to live normal lives.

* On the other hand when a 35-year-old Rita felt a small lump in her left breast detected during a self-examination of her breasts while taking bath one day, she fearing the unknown and praying hard, consulted her family physician who took a piece from the breast and after getting it examined, declared it as breast cancer, confirming her worst fears. She had heard horror stories of breast removal, hair loss, body pains and a loss of appetite during chemotherapy. As she digested the news she wondered whether life would be the same again for her and her family. She was referred to a cancer hospital where she underwent removal of the breast, chemotherapy and radiation and went through the turmoil with grit, determination and a positive approach, instilled by her doctors and support by her family and friends. Today after 18 years, she is leading a normal life.

Rakesh and Rita are among the millions of people around the world who suffer from cancer of various body organs, but while Rakesh had one of the worst habits of smoking, ignored the health hazards of tobacco chewing and delayed treatment and died a premature death, Rita immediately took action, consulted her doctor and saved her life. They are among the 12.7 millions who are diagnosed with one or the other type of cancer in the world every year and 7 million who die of cancer, mostly due to delayed diagnosis and treatment cancer derived from the word crab is one of the most complex, unpredictable and dreaded non-communicable diseases of modern times, which is spreading like an epidemic all over the world. While in patients of both sexes and all age groups there has been a tremendous increase in the diagnosis of cancers due to more awareness and early detection of the disease over the years and the fear of an early death, the psychological and financial implications for the family are always upper most in the minds of the patient which are not unwarranted and cannot be ignored. Yet with appropriate treatment, regular check-ups, familial emotional support, compassion, love and care and a positive approach many people live for years, leading a near normal life, say experts.

Cancer no longer spells the death sentence that it was earlier thought of.  Cancer is curable and many people have conquered cancer to live normal lives. Take the case of cricketer Yuvraj Singh, actress and model Lisa Ray and even Warren Buffet, the International Financial Tycoon, who conquered cancer and today are leading normal and productive lives. The Journey from detection to treatment and an ultimate cure is not pleasant no doubt, but love, care, compassion and counselling helps the patient through the tumultuous phase of the treatment.

On February 4 every year, World Cancer Day is celebrated to create awareness about the early warning signs of sudden lump growth, persistent cough, shortness of breath, unexplained blood loss from the body, unexplained weight loss, hoarseness of voice and pain in the abdomen, debunk the myths and encourage for early investigations and treatment. The theme of the World Cancer Day is, “We can, I can.” In fact we all can, by taking preventive measures and a change in our lifestyles, taking regular exercise, watching what and how much we eat and protecting our environment from carcinogens.

Stuart Scott said, “You beat Cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”  How true! Experts advise the patients of cancer, “Never give up, Never give in.”

Dr. Ashwani K. Malhotra is a retired Senior Medical Officer from the Punjab Government and is currently working with Mohan Dai Hospital, Ludhiana. He can be contacted at

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