To Chemo Or Not To Chemo?

11th April 2017

Cancer is a disease. Chemo is a treatment. Quality time with family is a utopia.

We are at the juncture now where we have to decide whether to give chemotherapy to mother or not. The attending doctor advised us against it. She is in stage 4 cancer and he is of the opinion that chemotherapy won’t help her much. It would be high risk. He wasn’t clear what this ‘high risk’ means. He suggested we take her home, give home nursing, palliative care, spend quality time with her and wait. Wait for the cancer to spread and affect other organs and watch her die is what he meant. However he said the final decision is on the patient and her family.

Mother  has never been a big fan of ‘homely’ ‘quality time’ with ‘family’. One of mothers most recurrent dream is there is a green filed, white temples in the distance and she is running towards them. She is running faster and faster and then suddenly she is flying. All her life mother has pursued the open sky and blue ocean, motifs which are recurrent in her poetry. She pursued adventure, travel, exploration, creative activities, socialization and a hundred odd things that the world outside home offers. She is like a child with endless wonders. She wouldn’t want to go home to die my dear doctor. She would give it a fight. She has been a fighter and a survivor. She asked the psychologist yesterday, ‘Go home’ means what? Marne ke liye bhej diya? She doesn’t want that. She said, “aise bhi marna hai waise bhi marna hai.”

Most people feel crippled with fear with the news of a near death and desperately try to hold on to whatever life they are left with. So they rush back home. For mother this is a new road. A new journey, new adventure. She isn’t going back from here, she would go forth to die like a soldier or be victorious.

Mother always wanted to be taken care of. Someone to ask her if she has eaten or not. Someone to cook and serve for her nicely in neat fancy plates. Someone to her the medicines and water. She always complained that none of us, father, sister and I know about her meds, what’s their name, how many to take in what frequency. She took care of herself on her own. Today there is a whole nursing team dedicated to take care of her. They would come at the call of a button to take away her slightest pain and discomfort. Twice a day doctors come and ask her, “How are you feeling today?” The dietician comes to ask what would you like to have for dinner today? Did you like the food yesterday? The F&B supervisor comes to ask if the food was well made and if she liked the taste. The house keeping comes to ask if she is satisfied with the cleaning staff, if her sheets and dress are clean enough.

Mother wanted this VIP treatment all her life. She never visited a 5 star hotel with  a view ever. She said yesterday to dad, so what if you couldn’t take me to a 5 star hotel. This is just like that. I am being treated like a queen here.

Mother has been more happy in the hospital this week than she has been in last 2-3 years at home. At home we always fight with each other. There are ten thousand things that annoys her, chief among them being father and I.

Give that chemo to her doctor. Let her fight.

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