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Gift Positivity, Not Sympathy, to Cancer Patients: IPS Officer Nidhin Valsan

SP, Crime Branch, Goa, Nidhin Valsan, a stage four cancer survivor, writes in this column about what and what not to do while interacting with cancer patients. The 2012-batch IPS officer of AGMUT cadre was detected with cancer in 2021 and underwent six chemotherapy cycles. An Ironman 70.3 Goa 2022 finisher, he writes from his own experiences about the right approaches one should take when dealing with a cancer fighter.
Indian Masterminds Stories

One of the most fatal and complex diseases human beings have ever faced – cancer is also the most stigmatized and misled of all the diseases. No wonder cancer is complicated to fight, but most cancers are curable, provided patients undergo the treatment systematically and face cancer with a positive fighting mindset.

According to cancerresearchuk.org, more than 80% of people diagnosed with cancer types that are easier to diagnose and/or adequately treated survive their cancer for ten years or more; this is a very encouraging statistic.

Most people still think that if they are diagnosed with cancer, it is the end, and there is no return. Most patients take it as if it’s the end of the world. This thought is completely naive. Statistics show that except for a few fatal forms of cancer, almost all cancers can be defeated. Even for deadly cancers, the chances of survival are high if the cancer is diagnosed earlier.

GIVE COURAGE, NOT SYMPATHY

Adding to this naive notion is the behavior of the people to the patient. Due to their ignorance or practical apathy, most people respond to cancer patients with a sense of sympathy as if there are not many days ahead for them.

Instead of instilling strength and courage, most people avoid talking to cancer patients. There are mainly two reasons. The first thought is the question, “What will they think?” and “Anyway, there is nothing much I can do”.

And the second reason is the motion I mentioned earlier; the impression that the cancer patient has no further life left and their time is running out.

IPS officer Nidhin Valsan

MAKE THAT CALL

Let us discuss them one by one. The first is “Whether I should call or not?”. The answer is a definite Yes! It would be best if you talked to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment, that you are aware of. You should speak to the cancer patient and instill a sense of life and future. However, please don’t bug the patient by repeated calling – your one call can make the difference.

One of the most substantial needs any individual has is a need to get acquainted and socialize with people – a requirement for being wanted. The thought that so many people want them to be back can give the patient the much-needed strength to return to life.

GIFT HOPE

Secondly, the general motion that cancer is the end of their journey. Statistics show that this notion is entirely wrong. Being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean an individual’s life is over. Almost all cancers are curable, provided the disease is diagnosed at the right time and undergoes proper treatment. What is most important is a strong heart and the mental strength to fight it out.

The treatment of cancer is equally devastating and taxing as the disease itself. Most patients undergo depression and mood disorders because of chemo and isolation post chemo. So at this point, what they require is hope. So communication with them in the most negative ways, as if they are facing death, is unethical and unjust practice. Instead, what we should be instilling in them is a ray of hope and desire to live and thrive.

IPS officer Nidhin Valsan (centre) at the Ironman 70.3 Goa 2022 triathlon event

NO QUACKS PLEASE, ONLY ONCOLOGIST

Most patients and their dear ones won’t be knowing about cancer until it knocks at their doorsteps. Most families are mentally devastated once they get to see the diagnosis report of having cancer. The road ahead is foggy and sometimes invisible. That is when a lot of advice and opinions come into their life on what to do.

Most views and advice will be completely unscientific, relying on traditional medicine and quacks. Most will say, “You go to this person. He has cured many cancer patients with one glass of special medicines”. In that situation of utter hopelessness, some patients are tempted to move toward this, which must be avoided entirely.

Cancer patients should only consult a certified and experienced oncologist and follow their instructions and advice instead of searching for these unscientific traditional shortcuts.

DON’T ASK WHY THEY GOT IT

One lousy way of responding to cancer patients, as well as close ones, is to inquire why they got cancer. Though genes stress and some foods are considered carcinogenic, there is no definite conclusive proof that eating habits and stress are reasons for cancers. Unfortunately, cancer is just destiny. Everyone has an equal probability of getting cancer, but the genes got activated in cancer patients.

Instead of pointing finger at the individual, blaming them, or attributing cancer to their deeds and actions, cancer should be taken as just one of the diseases or difficult phases of life, to introspect and contemplate deeply about oneself and prepare for an even better reincarnated future life.

KEEP CALM AND BE POSITIVE

In conclusion, even though cancer seems to be one of the most devastating diseases one can get diagnosed with, it’s imperative to maintain a positive outlook. The latest advances such as PET scan, targeted chemotherapy, nuclear machines, etc. have revolutionized cancer diagnosis and treatment, improving the patient’s life expectancy. The key is to keep calm and follow all the instructions provided by your physician.

(This column has been written by Nidhin Valsan, IPS, who has recently been posted as SP (North), Panji, Goa. In addition, he will also hold his current charge of SP, Crime Branch. He was diagnosed with Stage-4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent treatment in Malabar Cancer Center in 2021. He is an Ironman 70.3 Goa 2022 finisher.)


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