An unrelenting political warrior

first_imgIt all began when I was in London in June/July 2006. The President of the All India Tennis Association. Anil Khanna, the secretary general of the association, had persuaded me to undertake the trip so that, apart from watching the world-famous tournament at Wimbledon, I could also meet with friends from the world of tennis at the Mecca of the sport. During the trip, I noticed a little lump on the right side of my neck for the first time while shaving. It was not painful and I forgot all about it on my return to India.A couple of months later, in late August 2006, I went to the Parliament House Annexe dispensary for treatment of a stomach upset. After the doctor-in-charge, Dr. Bhatnagar, had finished examining me, I casually told him about the lump on my neck. I was surprised when he took it more seriously than I had expected him to, and personally took me to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. After further examination, both the doctors recommended an urgent biopsy….When I returned to the hospital after a couple of days, I was informed that the bone marrow report was normal, that my cancer was in its early stages and that there were bright chances of it being completely cured after treatment. Dr. Advani prescribed six rounds of chemotherapy, with a gap of three weeks between each. I told the doctors I was ready to begin immediately, that very day, and was transported to a room on another floor for my first round of chemotherapy.advertisementI took it as sportingly as I could but, after about half an hour or so, experienced a sudden reaction. I felt very uneasy and cold. The doctor gave me an anti-allergy medicine and slowed down the speed of the drip, which gave me some relief. My mood improved further when my friend Pahlaj Nihalani, the famous Bollywood film producer, visited me in the hospital. The chemotherapy process lasted for about ten hours. It was late evening by the time we finished, after which I returned to Sumant’s home where my wife and I were staying.I was advised to take the remaining five doses at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. The doctors in Mumbai knew Dr. Lalit Kumar of AIIMS and recommended him highly.After staying in Mumbai for a few days, we returned to Delhi, got in touch with Dr. Kumar and decided that the next dose would be administered under his supervision at AIIMS. In the meantime, I was told to ease up on my public engagements by keeping them to the barest minimum, avoid further travel and take things easy at home as well.I weathered the first two rounds of chemotherapy without any major complications. It was only after the third round that things started becoming difficult for me. I felt very weak and started vomiting uncontrollably one night. Earlier that evening, since my wife had some writing work to do, I had suggested that she go to another room so that I was not disturbed. After finishing her work, she fell asleep there itself. I felt too weak to even go to the other room and wake her up.So, it was only in the morning, when she came to our room that she realised the condition I was in. She immediately contacted AIIMS and was advised to rush me there at once. The doctors decided to admit me to urgently administer some antibiotics and other medicines. I had to stay in the hospital for three days.The last dose of chemotherapy was administered in the first week of January 2007. Meanwhile, I had made two trips abroad and a special trip to Puttaparthi to meet Sathya Sai Baba whom I had visited many times earlier as well.Since I was not a prostrating type of follower, Baba would always offer me a chair to sit whenever I met him…When I was ushered into Baba’s presence, I did not immediately talk about my illness. He discussed the political situation and other matters of national importance with me instead. When Nilima was invited into the room and joined us with Devesh, she lost no time in telling Baba about my illness and pleaded with him to bless me so that I would be rid of the dreaded disease. Baba asked me where the cancer was and when I pointed to my neck, he stroked it and said, twice, ‘cancer cancelled’.advertisement…Another unforgettable experience from the days and months I spent suffering from cancer was that of Chandra Shekhar’s visit to my place. He was seriously ill himself, having first undergone bypass surgery and then fallen victim to cancer as well. He had gone to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York for treatment, but even that had not helped. He had become weak, could barely walk, and his speech had also become quite slurred.But when someone told him about my illness, he lost no time in calling me on the phone. I could barely follow what he was saying but this I understood that he would drop by the following morning to see me. I received him as he alighted from the car, held his hand and walked him to my living room. He told me not to worry, advised me to go to the US for further treatment and promised to help me in whichever way he could.I was deeply moved. His visit and concern for my health brought tears to my eyes. He was terminally ill himself, yet he felt concerned enough to visit me personally and offer his good wishes, advice and help in my recovery process.RELENTLESS AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY YASHWANT SINHA, BLOOMSBURY INDIA; Rs 799last_img read more