Sunday, June 16, 2019

2019 - It's time for an update.

It's been 15 years of being NHL free. Sadly surviving lymphoma has moved down so far on my list of everyday thoughts that I have really neglected the blog. I have wanted to write, even if not regularly - but find myself putting it off.
I am now faculty at CMC, Vellore with paediatric Surgery and Anne works with the community health department as the obstetrician at CHAD. Both the boys are well and are in 8th std and 3rd Std respectively.
Working as a consultant in  Paediatric Surgery at CMC is fulfilling with the teaching, surgery, and challenges of helping out with our various peripheral centers as well. Anne and I have tried to use whatever chances we have to help mission hospitals around the country. Khariar in Orissa was the last exciting place we went as a family and was a blessed time.
My work in paediatric surgery has been an opportunity to both improve my skills - in the process be a better surgeon as well as share some hope with parents of kids with malignancy. Now with the availability of the internet on our hand-held devices, most parents (and even the kids themselves) are familiar with my blog/story and often mention that they had read parts of my journey.
Is there relevance of maintaining a blog once you are well? I'm not entirely sure of that answer. I know of many of my cancer journey partners, who chose to continue writing. Updates help someone who looks at the blog as a resource for treatment and planning for the future to make realistic plans for their future. Apart from some small memory jogs back to times of being sick, there is really nothing in my day to day life that would make me remember that I went through chemotherapy and radiation. An that is not always a good thing. "lest we forget..." - often written on war memorials, is a reminder that a reminiscence of harder times occasionally is a good thing. Being able to list all the good things God has done and say thanks is an exercise we easily omit. I am able to pull out pictures and pass on encouragement, to children I am treating. Large hospitals like CMC, can be daunting if you are already struggling with coming to terms with a disease. Millions of things race through your mind - how long to take off work, how do I arrange finances, Is this all worth the effort?. A word of encouragement by someone who's walked the way and is going to partner you through it will really help.
'break my heart for what breaks yours' - words from a song "Hosanna - Hillsong". Maybe good words to keep our hearts ready to respond to those around us in need.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 is here and so am I!

It is now over 8 years of being tumour free. I know there are many still stumbling across this blog when they google for Hematology, cancer centers in India, or lymphoma.
I am aware that there are many going through chemo now, who read through my accounts and identify with the various effects of drugs that break us down and make us whole again. It is for these that I am now posting. Pictures of my 2 boys. The second son born post chemotherapy and radiation and the second picture of my entire family. God has been good. There is not a day that passes that I am not aware of how blessed I am to see the new day.
I am mid way through the super-specialist training in paediatric surgery. Work is fun and I am happy that I have chosen to train further. Anne is also in a satisfying area of work, in the obstetric department at CHAD. Koby is in school and has a keen interest in plays and drawing. He is learning to play the piano and Karate.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Its been ages!

Ive been procrastinating writing this post forever! As a family we are back in Vellore for a short while. I have joined the department of Paediatric surgery at CMC vellore. I will be a student for the next 3 years of  paediatric surgery and hopefully get an Mch degree(superspeciality).
Work at Oddanchatram was  really satisfying, but there remained an interest to train further. Paediatric surgery is the most obvious choice for any general surgeon with an interest in Mission hospitals. The only flip side is buckling down to being at the bottom of the food chain or pecking order. But there is so much to learn...I realize that in even simple operations that I thought I had mastered, there is still many things that can make my technique better. I guess there is never a time to stop learning. Especially when our work is for a King!
The children have grown - Koby is now in second standard. Nishan is 2 years old and going to the creche. Anne works in the Community health department - helping out with the labour room. I don't get to see them as often as I like - but I hope that will not be for too long.
There are so many who still keep in touch and I am so grateful. I keep meeting people who come to Vellore for their check ups and we meet in the hallways / on the road outside the busy haemat department. But the common bond of having shared a common challenge is what makes the meetings special. I have put pictures from my blog onto my phone - especially those of me through chemo - and I share it with many of the chemo kids and parents who pass through my department. Most of the kids are amused to see what I look like bald - and the parents are just relieved to see that there is hope beyond what seems like eternity. Actually 2 of us that joined for the superspeciality courses in CMC this year are lymphoma survivors..
So if you do come down to Vellore - email me and will see how we can meet up. To those who occasionally check in to see how the Jacob family is doing - I can say that God has been good and we are doing great!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For unto us another son is born...

I had mentioned earlier that Anne and I were expecting a new addition to the family. Nishan John K Jacob was born at 9.30 Pm on 18th of September. Nishan means ' a sign' - this has been just another miracle in our lives to know that we serve a living God. All went well and Anne and Nishan are back at home after a short hospital stay. Koby is very proud of 'his' baby and is thrilled he has another boy to play with.
Certain things that went through my mind as we went through this experience of being parents all over again. One was that what ever our education or qualification, despite the fact that Anne conducts deliveries on a daily basis. There are so many things that can possibly not work out and so many things that just need to be left into God's hands. Prayer, and not our knowledge helps keep us from emotionally caving in when we go through a period of vulnerability.
Anne's mum was commenting that Koby while with them for a holiday in the past was all dressed to go to the beach - when it started raining. He walked out and loudly prayed "Jesus, please stop the rain - I want to go to the beach!". The family concluded that since he seems to know where to look if he needs help - then he should be all right for the future!
Another thing I realized was how God places such perfect people to look after us. Dr Gigi Mathews (Anne's obstetrician) stood by her side through the entire delivery, and with such love talked her through. She has stood by Anne through her thesis and with both Koby and Nishan's deliveries.
Being on the patient side of a hospital once again was interesting - I remember how Dr V Sitaram, my teacher and Professor of Surgery would tell us that the doctors visit is the highlight of every patients day. How true it is... Though it sometimes sounds like stating the obvious - each word spoken at that visit will determine the mood, conversation and plans for the day. Meals, visitors and medicines only become secondary.
Anyway - To the larger community that has listened to my ramble for years - Our family is now 4 people strong and bonded in Christ. Thank you for your prayers as always.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Surgery Department - CFH

Our department (Surgery) made a 2 day drive to Valparai - a hill station about 5 hours from ODC. It was an excellent drive - lovely roads, beautiful scenery along the drive - acre's of lush green tea estates to drive along. We saw a wild deer crossing our path - Anne found the many hairpin bends a bit difficult to stomach and Koby had a lovely time. We had a large group as you can make out in the picture - and we made the trip in 3 cars. Sitting right behind me in the picture is Dr Santosh Benjamin - a mentor and the pillar I lean on in our department - it was his idea actually that we made this trip. The reason I posted this picture was that when I joined ODC - this department was me and for some days - just another junior doctor (usually Justin - 2nd from the left), but now it has grown to have 3 consultants and presently 5 junior's in the unit. We will... God willing, have more join us soon. Our case numbers have grown at least 3 fold and in the last year we have bought a Laparoscope and a new video endoscope/colonoscope for the department and patients can avail these at dirt cheap rates.
I have witnessed a department show incredible growth - far beyond my wildest expectations. There is no doubt that God has blessed our efforts - when I joined this place had no surgeon for 2 months - and even simple cases needed to be referred 2 hours away to Madurai.

I only pray that as and when we move to Baripada that God will continue to bless our efforts. Unless the Lord builds the house - the laborer will work in vain. I have experienced that as true in my department over the last year.

Anne is doing OK and is due with our second in October - Miriam/Nishan are our 1st choice Girl/Boy names we have come up with.... Koby is excited and already planning for activities with his new baby.
Below is a picture of Anne and Koby who came to join me in the operating theater for a surprise birthday party that my department organized. That was a really nice day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The God of good things

Anne and I are still in Oddanchatram. We will be here for a little while longer. The picture is of us at the recent wedding of Anandith and Aswathy in Vellore. Koby is dressed up - because he was the ring bearer at the wedding. It was a special occasion for all and Koby pulled the job off well to our relief!
Good news to announce to the larger community - Anne and I are expecting another bundle of Joy - God willing in September/Oct. So thats a another miracle to doccument for all you post chemo's out there... God has been faithful and is a God of good things.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

He has brought me thus far!

The other day - I was quite surprised to hear Koby singing a Malayalam song. The words are about the gratitude we feel in our hearts in how God has brought us thus far! It's unusual for him to be singing alone - let alone in a language other than his usual English tunes.The end of December is a time to look back and also peer forward! Maybe even make a few new year resolutions.. The year has finally come to an end - and oddly enough, today Anne and I were reading entries of this blog from back in DEC 2005. I can hardly believe, when I started this blog that I was hardly months into my surgical training, Anne had not yet joined her Ob & Gyn post graduation, we had a baby on the way and I had cancer. 4 years down the line - I am clear of the tumour, Anne and I have graduated - we serve with our skills where we believe God has led us and we have a son - who is nothing short of our PRIDE and JOY and a tribute to the fact that we are part of a much larger plan.....

Anne and my sister Tripti graduated this year - The entire family was there to watch it happen. You can see the happy faces on the entire family as they received their degrees. Tripti and Santosh are now in Vellore as they wait to finish her service obligation.

We are still at the Christian Fellowship Hospital in Oddanchatram. There is so much to be grateful - for our time here. I have a busy department of surgery to work in and a lovely team to work with. Anne too is happy and able to do many new things.

Christmas at ODC has been fun - Anne and I sang in the Christmas Choir - led by Dr Susheel Tharien. Quite an experience, especially for me - singing Tamil and Malayalam songs was a really new thing to do! We also directed the children's play - difficult work, and I am sure that I will think twice before I do that again. We also helped organize the community barbecue, that was quite a enjoyable affair - with an open air BBQ for about 80 people from the hospital campus and their families. All the kids in ODC - had their own Christmas programme. Koby put in his first 'successful' stage performance as a "STAR" that shone over Jesus - when he was born - his lines ran 'I am the star, I led the wise men to Great King Jesus!'. I must admit - he did pull it off quite well. But I could be a bit biased!!

We look back in thanks, but toward the next year in impatient anticipation. Because, actually if we look back - there is an obvious hand of God in all that has happened. If I think of all the exciting operations we have done here, the close calls in various incidents of the past year, the reasons we have to be happy, thankful or upset - I can only see that we have been led and shielded. And I do wonder why...... Anne was gifted a book - this Christmas. The opening page read "may you and Tarun as a family - be always found at the center of God's will."

Hence why worry? We step out into 2010 with an incredible confidence that we can move mountains.... and who knows, if I read this post 5 years down the line - we may find that with His help and our FAITH we have actually moved one..

May 2010 find YOU in the center of his will always.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

2009 - To reminisce..

There are few times in life when you need to reminisce "Wow! did we really do that?" / or "were we really in such a situation?", and a wedding anniversary is such a time. Today Anne and I complete 6 years of being madly in love with one another!... no sorry, that would be for a much longer time - but its 6 years since we officially tied the noose... and as we sat to prayer tonight our hearts were filled with a wonder and gratitude to God for another year possible together.
I thought that now would be a good time
to update the Blog. People still keep contacting me through this wonderful instrument - but to update once in a while and let you all know that all is well, is something I must do.
The blog has seen no new post for nearly a year - we are now in Oddanchatram. In the Christian Fellowship hospital, also called CFH, ODC. The hospital is based in a small village that is built mainly along a single main road, is about a kilometer from end to end and has a this hospital nearly in the center. The closest large towns are Madurai and Coimbatore - each about 2 hours away. There are about 300 beds and we have most medical care in terms of physicians and surgical work possible. There are no frills attached and this is a place that really caters to the poorest to lower middle class patients. I have spoken of Dr Tharien - the founder, in an earlier post.
Anne and I are here as the department of Surgery had a need for a surgeon and so we placed our Orissa plans on hold till we tide over that need. Koby has started going to school here - he is in Kindergarden and enjoys a full day at school. He is growing fast and is a real blessing in our lives.
Work is busy and I am gaining valuable opportunities to broaden my surgical expertise -some pretty exotic operations and endoscopic work that I would never have attempted in a larger center with the appropriate specialists. Here most patients here will refuse to move on to a higher center - or can simply not afford it. God has been with us in this place and we place every new challenge before him in prayer!

By God's grace, my health has never been better - I am able to scuttle around 24 x 7 for emergencies and the surgical routine without any problems. In fact, I have to remind myself that I am now 4 years post NHL and need to get my follow up's done when I get back to Vellore!
Anne and Koby are doing well - lot's of friends for Koby and school poses enough to keep him busy and out of trouble. A picture of us swimming in a nearby dam - on a picnic with friends from the hospital.

God has been with us as before in the past year and we do testify to that. We have had the hill and valley experiences as usual - but all with the hand that sustains beside us.