Cancer Journey

When a doctor became a patient

I am a doctor (a 49 year old ENT surgeon), an avid sportsman, with a fairly healthy lifestyle. 

Sometimes in May 2013 I began experiencing pain while sitting down. Within a short period of time it became very difficult to sit continuously for even half an hour and getting up from a sitting position became unbearably painful. I consulted orthopedic surgeons and my pain was attributed to my long sitting hours. The problem was ultimately diagnosed as coccydynia and I was treated for the same. There was instant relief which continued for about a week after which I started having a strange kind of pain which seemed to be in the same region but more towards the left side. When a repeat MRI of the spine did not reveal anything I asked the radiologist to do an MRI of my pelvic region, where a growth of about 2.5 cm was detected. It was diagnosed as soft tissue plasmacytoma of pelvis and the treatment of choice was radiotherapy.

Having met Dr Kataria a few times earlier in regard to patient referrals for treatments, I knew her to be extremely efficient and was aware that she is one of the leading radiation oncologists in the country. I immediately contacted her and when I met her this time as a patient and not a doctor, I was assured that I could not be in better hands.

Having grown up at a time when cancer was believed to be a death sentence, when I heard it post my diagnosis I went through many difficult emotions. I realized the word ‘Cancer’ is as daunting for a doctor (especially when he is a patient) as it is for anybody else. I felt my life was fast slipping away and all of a sudden I was uncertain of what tomorrow might bring. I began to worry that I may not have enough time left to see my children settled and worried about my family’s financial security. Overnight, my priorities in life changed. I went through all this, despite the fact that I am a doctor myself and am aware of how things have changed with technological advancements in the field of cancer diagnostics and treatment.

However, Dr Kataria understood what I was going through and assured me that I will be able to lead a normal life during and after radiotherapy. I am happy to share with you the fact that during the course of radiotherapy I captained the Surgeons’ team in the yearly Physicians Vs Surgeons Cricket match. As advised by doctor, I followed my routine of work and rest during the entire course of my treatment.

I am forever indebted to Dr Kataria and her team, especially Dr Basu, Dr Vikas and Dr Tayal for the way I was looked after by them. My special thanks to Reena for arranging my appointments with Dr Kataria (sometimes at very short notices)

One thing I must mention here is, in Dr Kataria I found not just a very good doctor but also a remarkable human being with an unusual sense of empathy.