Cancer was once termed a death sentence by doctors and society. With improvements in medicine and technology, cancer patients now have a fighting chance at life and overcoming the disease. But no matter how much we progress, cancer still remains an expensive, difficult battle, one that can take all you’ve got and a lot more.

We went to Gadge Maharaj Memorial Dharamshala to see what motivates those afflicted with cancer to keep fighting.

1. Pradeep Sahu

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Sahu is from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and has oesophageal cancer. Pradeep’s nephew Chandan Sahu, “6 months earlier he couldn’t eat anything nor could he swallow, so we thought that he might have jaundice. And then when we got him checked, we got to know that he has a nought in his oesophagus and that’s what was blocking the food to his stomach and wasn’t allowing him to swallow anything.

Then we went to Nagpur from there and did some tests which showed a positive result for cancer. Then we came to Mumbai 4 months earlier to get him cured. He is self-motivated to fight cancer because he has 5 daughters and 1 son who are yet to get married. He doesn’t want to die without watching all of them getting married and settled in their lives. He used to work hard day and night to earn money to get every one of them married but, isn’t able to do anything since last 6 months. He keeps his pain to himself and has a smile on his face every time.

Since childhood, we both have been very close, so whenever he feels pain he won’t tell his kids And since the beginning he knows everything about his illness and has been physically as well as mentally strong to fight it”.

2. Vishwasrao Yadavrao Musade

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Hailing from Vidarbha, he has KT tumours behind his ear.  His son Khenderao Musade, says, “Since 7 months we are coming to and fro from our home town to here as to whenever there’s a chemo session, operation or check-up. Before he was detected with cancer, I observed  many times that whenever he used to speak his mouth used to twist to a certain angle. So I took him to the nearest MD Doctor, where he had got admitted for 2 days. Then we showed him to Head & Neck specialist, did a CT scan and got to know that there’s a tumour behind the ear and removed a specimen of it and did a few more tests. After few days, a report came in which said he had cancer. Doctor advised us to admit my father to Tata Hospital, so we came here and showed it to the doctors here and started his treatment here only. As the treatment progresses he feels more pain gets tired easily. He trusts the doctors here and is motivated to fight cancer, especially after the recent surgery”.

3. Bebibai Bhagwanji Vijaykar

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She is from Amravati, Vidharbha has ovarian cancer. Her daughter Rani, tells us, “A year earlier, she started getting fat; her navel got inflated, we got scared so we consulted the doctors. We showed her to 2-3 different doctors but they didn’t know what was wrong. At last 1 doctor said that she has cancer and would need chemotherapy since an operation isn’t possible. They were waiting for a doctor from Mumbai and the treatment was getting delayed. So I thought that instead of waiting for the doctor’s visit from Mumbai, I should go to Mumbai itself.

When I talked to a few people they said that Tata Memorial Hospital is really good and is one of the biggest hospitals for cancer in Mumbai so I came here with her 4 months ago. In the beginning we used to live at our relatives’ place, later we shifted here since it was uncomfortable for every one of us to stay in a small house. And since then she has been through 7 chemo sessions and is going through the full dosage right now. Doctors haven’t said when she will be cured they said she has to do chemotherapy till she’s cured. Her hair has started falling which is an effect of the chemotherapy. Sometimes she falls really ill so I take her to the emergency room, and the doctors put her on insulin and stuff and she gets better again. She is quite motivated that she will be cured but sometimes gets worried about her cancer and gets a bit negative but I motivate her and keep her positive”.

4. Situ Laga

Situ is from from West Bengal has molar cancer. Her brother, Samol Das, says, “She had cancer since 2 years but, it was detected 18 months after it started spreading inside her body. In the start, there used to be blood in her urine so we showed it to a doctor and went through medication in the village itself. A year later, we showed her to a specialist in Kolkata. So later on we came to know that she had cancer which was around 5 months ago from now. And then we brought her to Mumbai 3 months ago for a better treatment to me since I work in Bhuleshwar Market and could give her better attention. She is far better than she was earlier. She is quite motivated to fight cancer and even the doctor says that she will be fine soon”.

5. Anitadevi

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She is from Bihar and has ovarian cancer. She said, “My cancer started with a swelling and didn’t pain at all. So I thought that I would consult a doctor and get the swelling down with medicines. But, when I showed it to doctor, he said it was cancerous so I went to Patna for the cure. After that I came to Mumbai for the treatment which was 8 months ago. I have already been through an operation and 3 chemo sessions. Now I’m waiting for the doctor to declare that I’m cancer-free. All the infected ovaries have been already removed from my body, only a few small noughts might be left inside the body. That’s the reason I keep going through chemo.

5. Punik Rameshwaren Waral

He is from Akola and has KT tumours on the jawline. His daughter Archana said, “2 months earlier, his tooth was shaking a lot, so he went through a root canal operation and the dentist left a cut there. Later it turned into infection and spread a lot near the neck. Then we went for a check-up and the doctor removed a specimen from it and after testing, confirmed it as cancerous. At first we went to Aurangabad, got chemo done there but the cancer cells spread, so we stopped the treatment and came to Mumbai. Now since the operation is over, he is fine. 2 operations are done and now only 1 operation is left”.

These are just a few people who are battling this difficult disease. They need a whole to of positivity and motivation from all of us. Not all of them may have financial or familial support they deserve. You may never know, there might just be someone near you who needs a morale booster.

Special thanks to the V Care Foundation for helping us to meet these heroes.