Cancer can start almost anywhere in the body, spreading around and causing tumors. Blood cancer is one of the most common types of cancer but 48-year-old Sanjeev Goel had the rarest of leukemia, Hairy Cell Leukemia CD+20.
An RTI activist, Goel was going in for fistula surgery when he found out about an abnormality in his blood count. Not thinking about it much at the time, he went ahead with the surgery. Warning about the situation, his surgeon suggested he get this tested after the incision.
When CitySpidey inquired Goel about the signs of leukemia, he said, “The symptoms were very vague, I got fever sometimes and often felt tired. But I thought this was because of heat exhaustion. Later, in the first week of May 2018, I got diagnosed with leukemia.”
Hairy Cell Leukemia CD+20 is a rare, slow-growing mutation of blood cells, which can be found in the bone marrow. Lymphocyte, also known as B cells, is a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Excess of these hairy-looking cells is what causes cancer of the blood.
“I wasn’t very scared when I found out I had cancer. It was like any other disease to me and it’s curable. No matter how rare. My friends and relatives on the other hand were more scared and worried,” he laughed.
There aren’t many oncologists for Hairy Cell Leukemia in India, as it is a rare disease. The count of patients suffering from HCL, as well as the doctors, is very low. The doctors were themselves confused and had to refer to research papers for the treatment. The doctors never said no though, they were ready to help Goel and face this challenge. There was a variation in every doctor’s treatment, some suggested one-day cycles whereas some suggested a 7-day cycle.
He had to go in for another surgery before his chemo started, this time the situation was even more dangerous because of his low blood count. With his life at stake, he went ahead with the surgery and came out unscathed.
Later, he went in for a 7-month cycle where he was treated with chemotherapy for seven consecutive days with a 3-week break in between. Luckily, he had no financial issues when it came to the expensive treatment he was receiving.
“I went for routine checkups but this abnormality was still not detected. Technically it should have been brought to my attention during these tests themselves. There was a specific blood cell, and its count ranges from 4,009 to 11,000. I had 3,100 of those. The doctors told me it could have been a sign of some deficiency and leukemia can be hard to detect. Only bone marrow tests are definite examination procedures that can confirm its detection,” he added.
Goel completed his treatment in January 2018 and is ready to live his life with the same composure he maintained during and before his treatment.