Can anyone feel that they may have a serious illness and it could be cancer?
You may think ‘Its not possible’, but yes cancer can be ‘sensed’
I ask all the patients, whether they felt ‘not normal’ and that there is a serious illness lurking around. Most of them say ‘yes’. There is a feeling that something is wrong. the body is becoming weaker and the energy is going down. Or loss of weight and stamina.Many times visit to doctor is postponed or get treated with some usual medications.
Its a combination of nonspecific symptoms, but one does feel ” definitely unwell” .
I am reading the book” when breath becomes air” by a young neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He also realises that there is some serious illness, may be ‘cancer’. Its a moving story of an aspiring surgeon who works hard and is about to realize his dreams, when cancer strikes him. He writes his own story , perhaps mirroring the stories of many patients he had seen.
I recall a professor of surgery, a well known teacher, who one day suddenly declared that he had pancreatic cancer. His family and friends were surprised as he looked healthy.
‘Why do you think so?’
‘For years I have taught students that migratory phlebitis (red streaks on legs ) is a sign of pancreatic cancer and I have show them in my patients’.
“Now I have the same sign”.
He was investigated in disbelief, but the diagnosis was confirmed.
The first response however is denial, even more amongst doctors. No it cannot be. Then as time goes, the inevitable symptoms like pain set in and the diagnostic tests are done.
I see many like him. So many experience that loss of energy as though slowly the life is getting squeezed. Its is best to get investigated at the suspicion and not wait for full blown symptoms. Time indeed is the most critical as stage of diagnosis is the only major predictor of prognosis. Earlier the better.
You may be a busy corporate executive or your children have board exams. Something is always happening, but your health is a super priority. Nothing else matters.
The same thing happens to Paul in the novel. Loss of weight is due to ‘overwork’. Acidity is ascribed to ‘too many coffees and stress’. Not eating well as ‘no time’.
I recently saw a CEO with symptoms and its only after six months that he went for investigations. Work deadlines,travel, annual reports , social life – so many ‘important’ things- more important than our health. we have so many proverbs but hardly ever care.
Health is wealth ( proverbial sense) , but it only ‘depreciates’ and not ‘appreciate’ like real ‘wealth’ in the bank.
Well the bank balances can evaporate with a single illness.
I see this also in elderly. ‘why bother my son or daughter when they are so busy with their jobs’. That’s not correct. Most families care for their parents and would be devastated if they find an advanced cancer . Many just ask the question” Can my mother or father be cured?”. No matter how old, even 80s, but they want the parents to be with them a bit longer.
Thats normal and human, just push the line a bit. A little more time , just a little !
So when you sense ‘something is wrong’, don’t brush it away.
An early check up can save your precious life.