By Dr Rajasekhar Reddy K
As a Neurosurgeon I often operate on brain tumours successfully and most of my patients sail through without much problems. But some of them do not have much of a chance of being alive for very long. My efforts would extend their lives but certainly not cure them.
The very first question the family members of a patient who is diagnosed with brain tumour would ask me is, “ Is he going to live? ” And when I say Yes, the very second question would be, “Is he going to be like the way he used to be earlier? ” That means, post the removal of the tumour, would he be able to speak, drive, work so on and so-forth.
For both the patient and to his family, it is the most harrowing experience they will ever have in their life time. For neurosurgeons like me, this is our daily routine. Every patient is a high-stake case which makes our work not just incredibly important but also nerve-wracking at times.
‘Love’ the only strength that can sail us out…
Let me put myself into a shoe of my patient and tell you how they accept the diagnosis of a serious condition. Once a patient hears from me that, “ It’s a brain tumour” all they know is that they have a serious illness and they are in a shock.
As a doctor I understand that no word of support nor my efforts in improving the survival outcomes can be of any comfort to them at that point of time and I understand that these feelings are perfectly normal. Some would ask, Doctor, Why Me? Some would question, I have never been to a doctor all my life nor I have a habit of smoking or consuming alcohol, inspite of this, why do I have brain cancer.
A speechless mother, with tears filled in her eyes would ask, if her daughter would also be affected by brain cancer. A husband would ask, would he be able to see his wife like he saw her on the day of their marriage. A young lady would enquire, if she would get back her hair or her eyebrows.
All of them experience a rollercoaster offeelings, including helplessness, fear, panic, loss of control, sadness, anxiety and ‘Love’ which is highest emotion amongst all is the only strength that can sail all of us in our journey.
Undivided respect for neurosurgery by a neurosurgeon combined with the patients strong desire for recovery and his family’s unparalleled support and care towards him would pave way for qualitative outcomes of brain cancer diagnosis and treatment.
From understanding to acceptance to recovery…
J. K. Rowling in one of her books said “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” And I say at some point, patients should accept their diagnosis so as to put all our their energies on receiving the right treatment for easy recovery.
While a patient is diagnosed with spinal cord or brain tumour, the emotional experiences he/she will undergo is something we all should know so that we support them in the right way.
They often are in a shock feeling, confused and numb and later may not believe thats its happening to them. In this denial phase, patient relatives have to stand with them and help them understand that denial can't last forever, and you must eventually accept and face your diagnosis.
I often see patients feel guilty and blame themselves for getting the tumour. We as doctors have no real scientific evidence to prove that brain tumours are caused by a particular thing.
Some may also experience anger and direct the emotion to their family or God. When a patients feels angry about his diagnosis, I as a doctor would like to spend more time listening to his feelings and help him understand the diagnosis and treatment better.
After a bitter period, we as doctors help our patients accept the diagnosis and plan their tumour removal after examining their fitness for the surgery. With the right kind of modern equipment like Neuromicroscope: Neuronavigation Surgery is safe can easily remove the tumour and newer chemo & radiotherapy to prevent recurrence of tumours. good post operative protocols, diet, exercise , one might resume a new life altogether.
As a cricket lover, I believe in a team mind-set for wining the tournament. In cricket, every player plays a important role in changing the game’s outcomes right from the beginning till the end. My patients along with my team would strive for every moment to count and together bring science and spirit to the fight.
Source: Dr Rajasekhar Reddy K MBBS, MS - General Surgery, MCh- Neuro Surgery
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