Regular cancer screening and early detection – key to surviving cancer

Shakti Prasanna Mukhurjee speaks about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how awareness, screening and community support helped him survive polyp cancer

Shakti Prasanna Mukhurjee

“How I got polyp cancer is much related to my then lifestyle,” explains Shakti. “At the time I was working under Meghalaya Government and had to travel to rural areas of the Garo and Khasi hills. My diet changed to the local cuisines, which included pork and rice beer. To top it, I smoked dozens of cigarettes everyday along with betel nut and betel leaf (Tamul paan). Switching to a healthy lifestyle was never in my agenda.

“Soon enough, I was diagnosed with heart disease for which I had to undergo a surgery. But, I continued smoking –without being aware of the consequences that were heading my way.

“It was around November 2012, when I felt a persistent pain in my vocal cord. Without any delay I consulted doctors and the suggested tests followed. Yes, it was cancer!

“My world turned upside down and negative thoughts started haunting me. With all the mayhem that had dropped upon my family, only one fortunate news gave us hope – early detection due to timely screening.

“I was referred to Tata Medical Center, Kolkata, where I had my first laser surgery in December 2012, followed by a second one in February, 2014 in Dr B Barroah Cancer Institute, Guwahati. Although the surgery was successful, my cancer relapsed in 2016. With much physical stress and trauma, I underwent a series of radiotherapy cycles from December, 2016 to January, 2017.

“Despite the turmoil, I kept a positive attitude and cancer hates positive people. Today, I am a cancer survivor and actively participate in the awareness of cancer screening, especially in older people. Regular screening and early detection are vital because this increases the chances of survival.

“Today, every moment is emotional and I cherish each one. I feel even better today than I felt before diagnosis. I’ve always believed that even when life is hard, it is still great to be alive. That feeling has only strengthened after being diagnosed and coming out of it.

“Recently, I was appointed member of the Patient Advisory Group by the Tata Trusts. With all our experience as cancer survivors, we hope to reach as many people and try to eliminate the stigma caused by cancer.

“I want to thank my family for standing by me in these difficult times. A proper counselling has led to a mental boost. Now, I can finally say that I am a survivor and I have defeated cancer. Each one of those suffering from cancer can seek hope and motivation in the words of those who have successfully won their fights against the disease. And their stories can also help caregivers understand what the patients need most.