Chennai, India; email@example.com
1941 / Class of '93 / Last Update: 8/01
My name is Vandhana Veerni and my father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma
in 1993. My father was 52 years "young" (he prefers to state his age
that way. He hates calling himself or anybody so-many-years "old"). He
was born on the Christmas day of the year 1941.
His email id is firstname.lastname@example.org and he would be willing to share his
experiences and also help others in all ways he can. He lives in Chennai, India.
He grew up all over India, by the banks of the Ganges, in highly populated metro
areas, and in a small suburb in Chennai working for the government in a factory
that made combat tanks. He is a teetotaler. No smoking, drinking alcohol or any
other vices. Not even enormous amounts of caffeine. And throughout his life he
has had a very, very strict diet and does not eat red meat. So it was a total
shock when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.
It all started innocently enough. My father is a very energetic and active
person. He is involved in a multitude of organizations providing social care to
lots of people in India. He was employed by the Government of India, Ministry of
Defense. My father is the 4th of 9 children born to his parents. All along, his
leadership skills and selfless attitude made him the most loved at home and work
and everywhere he went he conquered hearts. I can proudly say that, thanks to
him, at least 200 people in Chennai, India have jobs today and he helped
personally educate another 100 children or so. And at no time did he expect any
credit for his deeds or any return for his good work. The reason I am mentioning
all this is you have to understand what kind of person he was and how many
people loved him to understand the impact the diagnosis made on us.
In October 1993 he started complaining of severe backache. He had been riding
a scooter to work and all his extra curricular activities for over 20 years now.
So we assumed it would be something to do with his riding on the pot holed
roads. He just rubbed in some pain relievers and back to his busy self. But this
pain kept nagging him for a long time when he decided to see a doctor. First he
consulted a Orthopaedic surgeon and the Dr felt he might have a slipped disc. It
was the first shock. From a perfectly healthy person, who had not a single day
of illness (other than another struggle he had with Jaundice), this was the
first problem they said he had. So he was advised to take it easy, lay off the
2-wheeler and get some physiotherapy and put himself on traction once in a
while. For some time this seemed to provide a lot of relief. But the pain
persisted. Then he was hospitalised to take some aggressive physiotherapy. That
seemed to work too. But only temporarily.
After he was back home for a few months he was unable to even walk. He used
to depend on me and my brother (my brother for the most part) to even lift him
so that he can use the facilities. The in December 1993 came the clincher. One
morning he woke up complaining for breathlessness and was sweating profusely and
also had some chest pain. So we rushed him to the hospital and there they said
he had a mild myocardial infraction. He was in intensive care and seemed to
recover remarkably well. When they did routine tests on him there they noticed
that his ESR count was 150. That triggered some alarms in the Drs' minds and
they advised him to have some thorough blood work. That is when they found proteins
in his blood. What followed are the most harrowing moments of my adult life. He
was asked to take a bone marrow test and that confirmed the Multiple Myeloma. We
went to 6 hospitals not believing the initial diagnosis, hoping, praying that
the first Dr was wrong... but alas that was not to be. My dad had the dreaded
He was referred to Dr. Sethuraman, a haemotologist who has been his doctor
since then. If we all saw god in real life it was in this good doctor. From
there on, he treated my father primarily on oral chemo and steroids and brought
the disease under control. My father achieved remission in 1997. All was
sunshine again. Meanwhile I completed my studies, was employed and got married
and moved to the USA.
I was 7 months pregnant last year when disaster struck again. His Myeloma
relapsed and he had moderate to severe LV dysfunction. I rushed to India and was
by his bedside for 2 weeks. He visibly improved.
Then he started fighting the disease again. I am amazed by his mental
strength and pray to god to give him much much more. Within a year his LV
dysfunction is totally gone and the cancer in under control again. Again our
knight in shining armor is Dr. Sethuraman. And of course, the Hero is my father.
His fight is so valiant that every day I thank god for giving me such a Gibraltar
for a father. To this day he continues his good work, counseling school children
in their careers, counseling socially and economically backward families, counseling
men against domestic abuse and training people to become better employees and
better humans. Even as I am writing this story for you he is in another town,
training people on Quality Management. And no, he does not travel by car. He
travels by public transport as millions of others in India, often standing in
crowded buses, not asking for a seat because he is a sick man. He pride and
strength make me feel so small and insignificant when I think of the small
ailments I suffer from time to time. Truly he is Viswanath, meaning Lord of the
I hope his story brings hope to several others fighting this cancer and their
families too. Throughout his struggle he did not try to hold us back. I have a
younger brother and he wanted us to reach out and fly to our dreams never once
stating his health as a reason to bind us. I live in the US and my brother is in
the Indian Army. My father lives alone since my mother is visiting with us for a
year. I hope and pray that god gives him a long and peaceful life. The world
needs more people like him. You can write to him in case you need some counseling
too. He is a wonderful person and I hope it gives you all hope that this disease
can indeed be fought against.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to my father's story.