Archive - October 2019

S1E3: IIM Alumnus Dimple Parmar Shares Her Journey As A Caregiver To Her Husband Who Died Of Colon Cancer

Podcast MD by Ketto with Kunal Kapoor Season One’s third episode featuring- Dimple Parmar (Founder – Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io) Wife & Caregiver of Late Nitesh Prajapat Shares Her Journey After Losing Her Husband To Colon Cancer.

Podcast MD by Ketto’s third guest is Dimple Parmar, the founder of Love Heals Cancer. Nitesh Prajapat and Dimple Parmar got married after they discovered that he had Stage 4 colorectal cancer. They launched Love Heals Cancer in January 2018 to provide support, information, and services to help people in their battle against cancer. A tribute to her late husband Nitesh, Love Heals Cancer is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping cancer patients live longer and better lives. Dimple and Nitesh’s journey started in IIM Calcutta where both of them were grad students. An alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and studying in IIM-Calcutta, Nitesh had founded Appeti, a curated online marketplace. While completing his MBA in 2016, he met Dimple, who was working on her own startup, Zaple, at the campus. They quickly connected and became good friends. Nitesh was diagnosed with cancer after he went for a checkup for severe back pain and constipation. Dimple talks about all the difficulties Nitesh had to go through during chemotherapy and cancer treatment including the side effects of treatment that wreaked havoc on his physical health. Dimple believes it’s important for caregivers to distribute their responsibilities of taking care of the patient to avoid burn-out. In his final days, Dimples opens up about how Nitesh transformed completely as a person and was more cheerful than ever before. She attributes the positive changes to a strong support system Nitesh had in the US, alternate healing practices, and a complete change in his diet. Here is an edited excerpt from our conversation with Dimple:

How and when did you guys find out about cancer?

We became friends after I met Nitesh during the time when we were both working on our start-ups. I didn’t find him much friendly but it all changed when he came back after a 3-month break. He also started getting sick more often and complained about severe back pain and constipation. After the doctor recommended a biopsy, it was found that he had Colon Cancer. This came as a shock to both of us. It was hard to accept that a young man who is very active, seemingly healthy, will have to fight against cancer. Spontaneously, I became his primary caregiver as he underwent Radiation Therapy followed by surgery. He was broken, but managed to rise above the initial shock, and, with his family’s support, started treatment. He approached his health condition in a logical manner, believing there was a solution to every problem.

How did you guys decide to get married?

Over the course of treatment, I began to develop a kind of empathy for him. He was a smart, intelligent, ambitious young man. He was a very good human being. I wanted to fight his battle with him. Nitesh moved to Mumbai for treatment and then came back to college in Calcutta after some months. That is when we decided to move in together. We got to know about each other more and more, and we fell in love. Nitesh underwent surgery. He was under continuous treatment and had numerous cycles of chemotherapy, while we were still in college. One day, he expressed his love for me and asked me if I would marry him. I said ‘yes’. On the day of our graduation in 2017, we got engaged on the campus in Tata Hall 213. We got married in August and seven days later, moved to the US to participate in clinical trials.

What was Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment like?

Cancer eats away the physical and mental health of not only the one affected by it, but also the patient’s loved ones. The treatment was filled with interventions, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. And later when nothing worked, we opted for clinical trials. Just when we thought we had defeated the dreaded disease, a post-treatment scan in June showed that the disease had metastasized to his lungs, pelvis, and other abdominal areas. There were a total of 12 tumors. I saw Nitesh suffer immensely as he was undergoing treatment. I want to share with you the taboo that exists around cancer in our society and how ingrained it is in our minds. When Nitesh was told that as part of the surgery procedure, he would have to be fitted with a ‘poop bag’, he was so ashamed that he didn’t even want to undergo the surgery. He was willing to die than have a ‘poop bag’ attached to his body.

Chemotherapy was worse. When a person undergoes chemotherapy it affects them psychologically too. They want to withdraw into a shell. They become so sensitive that they get irritated by the slightest sound or even dim light. It’s due to a condition called neuropathy, a side-effect of cancer treatment where if a person is even touched, it feels like a current. Some weeks are okay but most are bad. The chemotherapy was so hard that Nitesh no longer had a problem with the ‘poop bag’.

Tell us something about your organization Love Heals Cancer?

Nitesh constantly pondered upon how millions of people suffer from cancer and how can we give them hope and support them through their journey. He was the epitome of strength and willpower, and in his last days, he redefined joy with his infectious smile. It was his wish that we help people undergoing similar circumstances and how Love Heals Cancer (LHC) started.

LHC is a community of patients, caregivers, survivors, volunteers, individuals, and organizations, dedicated to providing love and support to cancer patients around the world. Our primary aim is to help cancer patients and their caregivers to find extensive healing options and improve their quality of life. The core belief is that in addition to regular treatment, extending warmth, love and support to cancer patients can play a huge role in healing them. 

What was your experience as a caregiver during Nitesh’s cancer treatment?

I think it’s important for caregivers to distribute their responsibilities of taking care of the patient to avoid burn-out. Sometimes I would feel burned out because I wasn’t taking time for my own self and that’s something we all need to understand. You can only take care of someone when you are doing well yourself. Cancer treatment makes the patient overly sensitive. How you behave directly impacts them. So, if you feel burned out, it’s a good idea to distribute responsibilities among other family members or simply take some time off for yourself. Another thing I believe is that caregivers should undergo counseling because none of us knows by default how to take care of someone who is suffering from cancer. It helps to have someone who can help us understand our own emotions with respect to what is happening.

Podcast MD by Ketto on all the major platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, JioSaavn and Hubhopper. You can also find it on eplog.media, our production partner.

Also, if you have a similar story you believe can be a source of inspiration for others, then you could be our next guest.

Write to us at mystory@ketto.org.

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DISCLAIMER: This podcast and its content is an intellectual property of Ketto Online Ventures Pvt Ltd and are subject to copyright. The views expressed are personal and with no intention to harm the sentiments of any individual/organization.

Podcast MD by Ketto S1E02: How A Writer Survived Cancer

The second guest on Podcast MD by Ketto, Sanjukta Sharma, is a journalist and writer based in Mumbai. She is also an ovarian cancer survivor. She has worked in various publications including The Indian Express, Tehelka and the Mint. At the start of 2017, Sanjukta quit her full-time job after feeling overworked. Her tiredness was accompanied by bloating and other symptoms of cancer. Her brother, who is also a doctor asked her to undergo a CT scan as a precautionary measure. After undergoing a CT scan, her doctor found nodularity along the lining of her uterus. She had to undergo a removal surgery, but while performing the surgery, her doctor found that the tumor was malignant.

In Jan 2018, she finished her Chemotherapy sessions and was declared cancer-free. Sanjukta, an advocate of Mistletoe therapy, believes that letting go is vital for the healing journey. She says it’s essential to spend time with one’s self in order to heal. She also recommends dietary measures that help with the recovery process, which includes limiting the intake of refined sugar and carbs. She believes that timely gene testing can help take preventive measures against gene mutations which can lead to cancer. Having undergone a tough time during her treatment, she has many insights regarding what challenges cancer patients have to face during treatment and how to tackle them.

During her cancer treatment, Sanjukta also underwent a lot of mental turmoil, including emotional outbursts and complete breakdown. During this time, her husband was constantly there by her side to take care of her. Knowing that it was also hard for her husband and what he went through during the course of the treatment, Sanjukta recommends that caregivers should also go through counseling so they know how to manage such a stressful situation. Interestingly, Sanjukta thinks that Chemotherapy wasn’t the hardest part of her treatment as the medicines the doctor gave her took care of the side effects caused by Chemotherapy. Personally, Sanjukta believes that the market for cancer treatment is huge with therapies available to patients, and to avoid getting tangled in multiple things one should simply choose one or two therapies and stick with them. She recommends reading the book ‘Longevity Diet’ to make a positive change in lifestyle and live a healthy life.

Sanjukta believes that there is a lot of shame around cancer, especially for women who also end up losing their hair during treatment. Given how much taboo exists around cancer in India, Sanjukta believes that patients need to be empowered. She also thinks that Doctors need to explain more to their patients as to how the treatment will affect the patient. Additionally, she believes the doctors should also be more receptive to their patients’ suggestions as they are the ones having to deal with the side effects and pain. At a personal level, Sanjukta feels every patient should try to spend more time listening to what their body is trying to tell them. “You have to be gentle with yourself,” she says.

Link to Podcast: Episode 2

Podcast MD by Ketto on all the major platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, JioSaavn and Hubhopper. You can also find it on eplog.media, our production partner.

Also, if you have a similar inspiring medical story that you think can be a source of inspiration to others, please get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you on mystory@ketto.org

Cancer Survivor’s Journey: How Award-Winning Filmmaker Defeated Cancer

Podcast MD by Ketto with Kunal Kapoor Season One’s first episode featuring – National award-winning filmmaker Teenaa Kaur Pasricha

The first guest of season one was Teenaa Kaur Pasricha, a National Award winning film-maker and screenwriter. Raised up in Ajmer, Rajasthan Teenaa was brought up in a middle class family.  Her documentary ‘1984: When the Sun didn’t Rise’ has won multiple awards in competitions across the world. ‘1984, When the Sun didn’t Rise’ is a documentary film that journeys into the Widow’s Colony of New Delhi where 3,000 widows and their families were resettled after the Sikh massacre of 1984. It tells the story of three brave women who fight for justice while negotiating personal trauma and earning a livelihood for their families. “I used to be very depressed while I was shooting, as I was absorbing the emotions of these women who were narrating their horrific experiences,” Teenaa says.  

For Teenaa, it was a difficult journey, but also a very fulfilling one as she got to know stories of countless women who were affected by what happened in 1984. Teenaa was awarded the prestigious fellowship in screen- play writing by Time Warner foundation supported Asia Society, New York for her first feature film screenplay “The Red Autumn” in 2013-14. She has worked with India’s largest Broadcaster, Zee TV as a Promo Producer and a Core team member of Trends Ad films on producing TV Commercials. Teenaa was diagnosed with Breast Cancer right before she came to know that her film had won a National film Award for ‘Best Investigative Film’ in 2018. Her doctor recommended her to receive the award after undergoing a surgery, which she did. Her Chemotherapy sessions began right after she received the award. 

One year later, she was sharing her experience with the audience at a TEDx event. Teenaa hopes to clear the Taboo that Breast Cancer is surrounded with. Teenaa is a firm believer in the power of Homeopathy, Ayurveda and raw food diet. She believes the combination of these three things helped her cope up with the side effects of chemotherapy and live a healthier life too. For her diet, she starting eating sprouts and switched rice with millets. She also wants to spread awareness about the taboo that exists around breast cancer in the Indian society where she believes people are still hesitant to talk about it. She is of the opinion that women need to get regular check-ups done, so that life doesn’t spring surprises on them.

Breast cancer awareness according to her is an important women’s health issue that unfortunately isn’t discussed publicly- something she believes must change. Overall, Teenaa had to undergo a combination of Radiation therapy, surgery and Chemotherapy. Radiation therapy was the easiest part of the treatment for her as it didn’t involve going through terrible side-effects like in the case of Chemotherapy. For Teenaa, cancer put her life in perspective as she was able to reflect on things that matter to her. “All the things that weren’t in my life completely disappeared from my mind,” she says. After finishing her cancer treatment which lasted for 6 months, Teenaa has started travelling more often, something she says brings fulfillment in her life. Teenaa’s journey of fighting cancer was an uphill battle but her strong and positive attitude allowed her to bounce back in life.

You can catch Podcast MD by Ketto on all the major platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, JioSaavn and Hubhopper. You can also find it on eplog.media, our production partner.

Link to the podcast:
Google Podcast

Also, if you have a similar inspiring medical story that you think can be a source of inspiration to others, please get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you on mystory@ketto.org