stark reality of life is seen beyond the doors of hospitals and walls of
crematoriums. Most humans live within the ambit of one three letter word of the
English language “EGO”. They fail to realise that death is the
mother, my Amma has always been my pillar of strength. She was a Maths teacher
by profession and a very strong woman. The description “Maths teacher” conjures
images of bespectacled, strict tutors who wait for a chance to gobble up their
students. Amma was none of the sort. She radiated kindness from every pore.
Kids used to run to her for anything and everything. And she used to sit
patiently through their every need and help out.
was also famous as “the teacher who paid fees”. She taught in a school that had
many underprivileged students, who came from very poor or broken families. Amma
ensured they got quality education by paying their fees, month on month, year
December 2016: The ordeal begins
was the month that will stay etched in my memory forever. Amma suddenly
developed swelling on her left leg. Having enjoyed good health all her life,
she ignored it till the day she realised that the swelling that had begun in
her left foot had encompassed her entire left leg. Worse, it simply refused to
go away with every possible treatment.
January 2017: Loads of investigations
the doctor recommended scans and there it was…a big mass on the endometrium,
the wall lining the uterus. She was asked to go for a biopsy to eliminate any
chances of a malignancy. Amma was still unperturbed. She had chronic fibroids
and was relatively sure that the mass was nothing but the fibroids playing up.
We went ahead with the biopsy and were told that results would be in 5 days.
February 2017: The verdict
date was Feb 10, 2017. Amma and daddy were celebrating their 43rd
marriage anniversary. We were planning for a surprise party in the evening when
my mobile buzzed. It was my brother giving us the dreadful news that the biopsy
had shown up extremely malignant cells. Yes, my beloved Amma had cancer. This
came as a bolt from the blue.
God had more in store. The hospital had graded her cancer and defined that she
was already at a very advanced stage…Stage 3c to be precise. Most of us know
that Stage 4 is the last stage ever defined in cancer. I went numb with fear.
The thought of losing the person who meant the life to me was too overwhelming.
And then there was the herculean task of breaking the news at home, to Amma
The rest of the day went in a daze. I remember going through the motions of informing my dad and then Amma. I was not prepared for what happened next. Amma had tears in her eyes for exactly 5 minutes, after which she said, “This diagnosis is NOT going to be the end of my life. I am going to fight this and win. All I want to know is whether I will be supported by a weak family or a strong one”. We were speechless. Such strength at times like this only meant that we were going to bust the cancer in its own web.
March 2017: The oncologist visits
We found a brilliant oncologist who took her under his wings and shared our thoughts of winning this battle together. He put her on chemotherapy for about 4 months, with a session every week. Chemotherapy is known to drain the living life out of not just the cancer but the person as a whole. We prayed as family to every God we knew. We prayed for strength, health, complete recovery. Prayed and prayed, every day, every moment.
May to August 2017: Happiness
God heard our prayers. He was happy. He blessed Amma abundantly. Her mid-chemo scan showed an almost 50% reduction in the tumour. We were elated. The doctor was ecstatic. Amma’s post-chemo scans showed more than 80% reduction in the tumour. The doctor called it nothing short of a miracle. All through the treatment Amma continued to do all her tasks and managed the home completely. She continued to take care of her grandkids (my kids), feeding them, bathing them, teaching them and then monkeying around with them. There was no hint of fatigue or weakness in her. She was clearly living her life to the fullest. And we loved that.