Nidhi Shows Cancer Who's The #Boss
At an age where most girls are plagued by career and relationship woes, 21 year old Nidhi Patel had something completely different to worry about.
How it all started
Nidhi was preparing for her final exams to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology when she started to experience a severe pain on the left side of her body, arm and throat. “I ignored it for about 2 and a half months. I thought it might be an acidity or gastric problem plus my practicals and finals were about to start. So I thought that I'll go get myself tested, once I'm done with my exams.” she says.
But soon she noticed a big lump under her collarbone in between her lungs. “I had 2-3 papers left when I noticed the lump. I got a little scared and told my mom. The next day visited a physician. He thought that maybe because I carry lot of weight( my books and journals) on my shoulders, the lump must’ve been caused due to muscular strain. He prescribed me the medication accordingly and asked me to visit after a week. I didn’t really notice any difference and after 3-4 days my pain just worsened. So we went back to the doctor. This time, he asked me to get an X-ray done and a big mass was spotted in the center. I was then asked to get a CT scan too and it was found that I have a big tumour between my lungs, on the thyroid gland.”
“After that we went to Baroda for further tests and reports. There, a biopsy was performed which confirmed my worst nightmare - the tumour was cancerous. I was diagnosed with lymphoma - a form of cancer that affects your immune system, specifically the immune cells called lymphocytes. But that’s not the worst of it. When a PET scan was done to see if any other parts of my body were affected, it was revealed that the cancer was in the terminal stage.” Nidhi says.
Her Painful Battle
The tumour had led to a lot of water retention around her heart as well. Because of the close proximity of the tumour to her heart, surgery was ruled out as an option. Nidhi’s battle with cancer included 8 rounds of chemotherapy followed by radiation.
“The pain was unimaginable. I still remember my first chemotherapy session. I don’t have the words to describe the pain I felt. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep. You feel like your body is constantly burning. My body had swollen and my throat hurt so bad, I felt like someone had pulled my intestines out and tied them around my neck.” She says. “And this was just physical. Emotionally, I felt like it had consumed my soul. I remember screaming because of how bad it hurt. I was constantly angry. At one point in their journey, I swear every cancer patient thinks how much easier it is to just die. But I saw my parents cry and my sister break down and I realised this wasn’t my battle alone. It was a battle for every single life that was connected to mine. And I had to stay strong, for them- if not for myself.”
Chemotherapy had started to make her lose her hair but Nidhi would have none of it. She got her head shaved herself.
Her biggest strength came from her Guruji Parmukhswami Maharaj. Her faith in him and his blessings gave her what it took to go on every single day. “A few months into my journey, he passed away, that was when I hit rock bottom. He was the main reason I kept going. But soon enough, I realised that before he left, he gave me the strength to do this on my own. And that’s the thing about hitting rock bottom- the only way you can go from there is upwards.”
It’s been a year since then and Nidhi is now completely cured.
“I’m blessed to have a wonderful support system in my family and friends. My mom put up with every single tantrum of mine, my dad kept me motivated and my sister helped me stay calm. My friends weren’t just sympathetic, they were incredibly supportive.” she smiles.
“I used to be really insecure about what I'd achieve in life- how I would be as successful and stable in my life as my sister is. But this journey has helped me realise that being successful doesn't really matter. What actually matters is that you enjoy every moment of your life and be happy about who you are at present, because nobody has seen their future and you could die any moment. So be happy in this moment with whatever little things or achievements you have right now and embrace your present. But most importantly, it has taught me the true value of family and friends. I know how much stress they were in. But all this just showed me that there are people in the world who love me unconditionally and are ready to do whatever it takes to keep me safe.”
A Fresh Start
While medicine and science go a long way, the one thing that has brought her where she is, undoubtedly is her spirit. She makes cancer jokes now and uses it as an excuse to get what she wants. She even uses it to convince her friends to let her win a board game or coax club bouncers into allowing her to enter because she is a cancer survivor and she deserves to let her hair down for a night!
She has tremendous will power and zest for life. She had the ability to laugh at what could’ve killed her, look it straight in the eye and tell it that it couldn’t touch her.
And so it didn’t.
“I tell myself now that if I can survive that, I can survive anything. Oh and by the way,” she says in conclusion, “despite all the pain and distraction, I have managed to clear my final exams and score an A grade. C’mon, I’m allowed to brag a little! After all, I am a cancer survivor!”