Two years ago, resident of Fiji, Ashwin Sainaz felt something was wrong before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Doctors told her that she either had IBS or she was a hypochondriac. Taking their advice, Ashwin would get pleasant of exercise by brisk walking in her local park, nevertheless, she felt bloated and uncomfortable.
One day, she woke up to a very heavy period; she immediately knew something was wrong. Her blood pressure lowered, she was very pale, and felt faint. She called her doctor and was sent to the hospital to have an ultrasound. Her doctor saw something unusual during the trans-vaginal ultrasound, an imaging test in which an instrument with a camera is inserted into the vagina to visualize the ovaries and uterus.
“That was my first ‘red flag’ that something was wrong because my doctor stared at the monitor for what I seemed like a long time,” Ashwin remembers. To confirm her doctor’s suspicions, she underwent a second scan, which revealed a growth the size of an orange on her left ovary. Ovarian cancer—the second most common type of gynecologic cancer in the world —begins in the ovaries, the female reproductive glands in which eggs are formed, or the fallopian tubes, the channels that carry eggs to the uterus. Common symptoms of the disease include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary issues such as frequent urination and bladder pressure.
Often times women are diagnosed with later-stage disease because these symptoms are thought to indicate other conditions and are not recognized to be those of ovarian cancer.
Even though the diagnosis was uncertain, Ashwin’s doctor advised her to get checked up by a specialist abroad. She explains, “My doctor said, ‘If it’s not cancer, then it's great. But if it is cancer, then you’ll be staged properly and have a tumor removed at the same time.’”
Over the next few days, the family turned to the internet for a solution. While looking at various websites and finding top 10 cancer hospitals in India, the family stumbled upon Vaidam. The company was of keen interest to the family especially since Vaidam had an office located in Fiji, and they could visit if the need arises. Nonetheless, Ashwin was not convinced about the idea, “travelling to a far-off country where we didn’t know anyone seemed like a huge risk and quite unreasonable”, said an exasperated Ashwin.
After speaking with the Vaidam Health representative and sharing their concerns, they were advised to speak to a patient from Fiji who had been through a similar experience. Over the weekend, Ashwin and her family called Faisal, a patient who had previously travelled to India for a heart transplant. The man had first-hand experience and would be a great source of information, the family agreed. Listening to Faisal about his experience eventually had a huge impact on the family’s decision to travel to India. Ashwin finally at ease was assured that everything would be alright and he will get affordable and best cancer treatment in India. The family decided to make preparations for their journey and were due to arrive on 9 April, 2018.
Ashwin and her family arrived in New Delhi and subsequently made an appointment with Dr Deepti Singh, Senior Oncologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. Ashwin had a CT scan, and surgery was scheduled within a week of her appointment. The day before her operation, Dr Deepti Singh called to say that her CT scan was “highly suspicious for cancer” and that she should prepare herself not only for a cancer diagnosis but also a hysterectomy – the surgical removal of her uterus.
Post surgery, one of the best cancer doctor in India - Dr Deepti met with the family and with a smile on her face, said that her cancer was caught at its most treatable stage, and she was therefore very lucky. In her own words, “Most of the time we find ovarian cancer more advanced than stage 1. Ashwin, fortunately, was diagnosed early.” “From that moment on, I felt very confident that I could beat it”, Ashwin adds. After 5 rounds of combination chemotherapy with carboplatin and taxol, Ashwin is currently battling cancer more determined than ever. We wish her a speedy and full recovery and hope she is back to her old life once again.