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Snigdha: Keeping the Faith Alive Post Leukemia

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Snigdha Leukemia

The Diagnosis

In the winter of 2014, while I was spending time with family in Bangalore, I noticed strange rashes on my legs and feet; blood clots in my mouth. I also had an acute pain in my back; walking was difficult. I sent pictures of the rashes to my father (in Hyderabad)l. He asked me to get a blood test done. The reports revealed I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Reports from the tests that followed confirmed the case. I was admitted in the hospital. My mother sat me down and revealed the diagnosis. I took it as it came; no tears, only a desire to defeat this monster.

It is easier said than done though. Battling leukemia and chemotherapy’s side effects can bring out the worst of the pain, but the best of the human spirit. The results after the first phase of chemotherapy showed that a bone marrow transplant was my only way out.

Snigdha Leukemia

Finding a Marrow Donor

Unfortunately, my sister was only half a match. My friends and family conducted drives, with the help of Datri, wherever they could in order to help me find a donor. Later, Datri suggested that all my cousins get tested. As luck would have it, my cousin brother, the one I am the closest to, turned out to be a 90% match!

With friends and family backing me and my cousin signing up immediately, I entered the next phase of my treatment. Battling isolation, pain and side effects post transplant is daunting. But I continued with something I did during the first phase of treatment, I turned to art. I made cards for co-patients and the healthcare staff that looked after me. With every drawing my focus grew and my anxiety died.

Life Now

Life today is as normal as it could be and my mother has played a key role. I owe so much to her. I just want to spread the light of happiness everywhere.

My appeal to everyone is to register as marrow donors so that no one has to die. Another is to really trust your doctors and to resist the temptation to forward fake messages on cancer cure via WhatsApp. We need to expose ourselves to the right information because cancer won’t cure itself. What is alarming is the blind belief most of us have that it will.

You may also like to read about Soumya Tripathi: Living with Thalassemia

Soumya Tripathi: Living With Thalassemia

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Soumya Thalassemia

I was a year old when I was diagnosed of Thalassemia. My brother is a thal minor. At some stage, a bone marrow transplant was considered. However, we weren’t a match. Back then, the concept of finding matched donors in India was barely there. So we settled in with Thalassemia and the resultant blood transfusions for the long haul.

My family raised me like any other child. I was never made to feel that I have an agency in my body that hinders a ‘normal’ life. I grew up with a lot of love and warmth. In school, I fell in love with table tennis. The hobby transitioned into a passion and I represented my state in the game. My friends and family often said ‘Tum karo, hum piche khade hai’ (You go on and do it, we are backing you).

Of course the transfusions haven’t always been kind. I have battled skin rashes and allergies, strange reactions that have led to incessant vomiting and fatigue, but I have never given up.

Thalassemia

One of the bigger highlights of my life was when The Wishing Factory organised a contest for people battling thalassemia and I won. A ‘Thalassemia Warrior’, they called me. I want to live up to that title. While I wish to become an accomplished lawyer, a long standing dream is to give something back to the community.

Blood transfusions are too difficult at the moment. Every patient is expected to take the COVID test first. Once cleared, one can move for the transfusion. Each test costs close to 4000 INR; many cannot afford it. I see so many NGOs stepping up and helping these people. I wish to start my own someday.

In India, we tend to match kundlis of two people before they get married, I believe it is much more important that their blood reports are matched first. If both are thalassemia minor, they must not marry. It is unfair to the child they will bring to the world who may be diagnosed with the disorder. I have fought it for 21 years now and will continue to do so. It doesn’t mean every other child has to do it. This can be resolved, we can get on the top of this disease, together.

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