Receiving cancer diagnosis can feel like death sentence: Briton survivor

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“Receiving a cancer diagnosis can feel like a death sentence. I am doing this ride to show it is possible to live your dreams, even with cancer. The ailment does not have a barrier. But you have got to create your own opportunities, no one else will do that for you.”

This was the key message given by Luke Grenfell-Shaw, a 26-year-old man from Westbury-on-Trym, who has set off on a challenging cycle ride from Bristol in the UK to Beijing to raise funds for cancer charities.

Addressing an inspirational interactive session held at Advanced Pediatric Centre at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here, Luke said: “This expedition would be seriously challenging even for someone living without cancer.

“However, I want to show that despite a cancer diagnosis you can set your own horizons; that you need not be labelled and limited by it, rather it is your dreams that determine your achievements.”

Organised by Amita Trehan, Professor in Pediatric Medicine, Advanced Pediatric Centre, with an intent to motivate others battling with the ailment, the session was well participated by equally inspiring others from the PGIMER, including 10-year-old Sukhnaaz, on treatment for leukemia, a 10th class student Dev, a survivor of leukemia, and Ashutosh, a student of pharmacy from Panjab University.

The session was also attended by Brig. Bakshi from Cankids, an NGO helping Luke’s journey in India, as well as the doctors and supportive care staff from the hematology oncology unit in the Pediatrics Department.

Sharing his life’s journey with the audience, Luke Grenfell-Shaw elaborated, “While teaching English in Siberia in 2018, I noticed an ache in my shoulder. At first he presumed it was a pulled muscle, but later it was diagnosed to be a stage IV sarcoma (a rare cancer which had spread from his shoulder blade to his lungs) at the age of 24.”

Speaking to an audience sitting in rapt attention, he further shared, “I was determined to take charge of my life and live it to the maximum. So, I founded a charity called CanLive on October 19, 2019, aiming to raise awareness and funds during the ride from Bristol in the UK to Beijing, China.

“Already covering 18,000 km, the tandem trip has provided me an opportunity to share the experience with friends, family, and with other young CanLivers, people living with cancer who are inspired to live life to the full and maximize their longevity.”

Luke’s inspirational story was complemented by equally interesting and encouraging stories from other cancer survivors.

Sukhnaaz impressed the audience with her mesmerizing singing, and her fluency in multiple English accents. Her bright-lit face and her spirited demeanor was a clear testimony that ‘there is life beyond cancer provided you do not give up’.

Dev, a cyber security buff who cured from the ailment, wanted to raise awareness about the myths and misconceptions prevalent in society regarding the disease.

Narrating an emotional account of discrimination that he faced due to the ailment he was suffering from, he seemed a man on a mission.

A very suave and polished Ashutosh, who got cured of cancer six and a half years ago, and now pursuing a degree in pharmacy also seemed dedicated to the cause and has a support group to give hope to those fighting their battle with the disease.

Aptly summing up the session, Amita Trehan said, “It’s extremely gratifying for us as doctors to listen to these inspirational stories. As we also get emotionally involved with our patients, these kinds of positive life accounts rejuvenate us and reiterate our faith in the nobility of this profession.”

20211213-185622

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