It was a difficult afternoon; we were finally going to know. My father had procrastinated for almost ten years, only because the tumour was benign. My father’s suspicion had led us to a tense afternoon. The preliminary tests showed traces of malign cancer. My father had no clue, and nobody told him. He was clueless when he entered the operation theatre.
The tumour had encircled my father’s trachea. It had grown so large that if he didn’t have the surgery, it could have crushed his trachea. After the preliminary tests, I accompanied my father to consult the cancer specialist. He spoke with ease like he had seen a dozen cancer patients that day. My father, in his demure demeanour, didn’t overreact and acted confident.”I’ll give you a pop of Iodine, and it’ll kill all the cancer cells, nothing to worry at all,” he said. “The worse thing that could happen is you could lose your taste buds.” The nerves were closely packed, and iodine therapy could damage his taste nerves forever, this broke my heart. Anyone who knows my father, knows he’s a foodie. Imagine not being able to do your favourite thing anymore. Lunches and dinners would no longer be relished.
My dad and I would occasionally go out to dinners. This is one of my favourite places (artwork from my sketchbook).
I was worried that my father would lose his ability to taste forever, but I was also worried about other the side effects. Iodine therapy can be very impactful, the patient needs to be isolated for a while after the treatment. There’s also nausea and inflammatory problems to deal with while the patient is undergoing therapy.
In the hospital, while waiting in my room, I clenched my mother’s hand as I read my book. My close friends and family were there to support him. I was engrossed in reading my book, ‘All the light you cannot see’; back to World War II, in some obscure town of Germany was a little girl who survived blindness. She wasn’t born blind, but she became blind. The most heartbreaking thing is to lose one of your senses. Eventually, the blind girl became an expert, she could walk blocks across her street and map herself out during the war. I imagined how my father would be deprived of his ability to taste forever and how’d he manage his life too.
I looked calm, but beneath the surface, I was paddling through, struggling to cope like a swan on quiet waters. As I ignored everybody in the room and read my book, my uncle got an emergency call. We were asked to rush to the operation theatre.
As the elevator closed behind us, we were standing in quiet stillness, I felt like I could hear every thumping heart like a pounding drum beat. We were nervous; our thoughts were as numerous as the grains of sand. As we walked to the operation theatre, the doctor held a surgical plate with a tumour as large as my hand that was spiralled up: it was the tumour that had encircled his trachea. The doctor finally uttered words of comfort and told us that the surgery was successful.
The doctor explained that the surgical experience was different. In typical human anatomy, the food pipe and the wind pipe (trachea) bifurcates below the neckline, but my father’s was different. His trachea and food pipe saw the division as soon as the doctors slit his throat; it felt like God had designed his anatomy differently for that day. The tumour that once proved to be malign had no traces of cancer now. The cancer cells had disappeared. The better news is that they managed to save his taste nerves too.
We celebrated with sweets to his taste buds, and to ours, of course.
Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive so that your joy may be complete.