Saturday, July 01, 2006

June 28, 2006 - Thanks, Tarun

Sometime in the midst of my long process of diagnosis, I did what many others do, under similar circumstances. I went on the internet, searching for information that could help me understand the challenges before me.

I found a plethora of medical information on sites like those of the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Lymphoma Research Foundation and Web MD. I also found more than my share of less-reputable websites hawking spurious herbal remedies and other quack cures. I avoided these, sticking to sites affiliated with reputable scientific and medical organizations.

Yet, even as I was mastering the medical jargon and becoming better informed, I realized I was looking for something more. The technical information had its place, but I also craved some information of a more personal nature. I wanted to know what it feels like to go through cancer treatment, as reported by someone who’s actually been there.

Very soon after I started this blog, I received an e-mail from a twentysomething physician-in-training from India by the name of Tarun Jacob, who had stumbled across one of my posts while doing his own web-surfing. I first wrote about him in my December 17, 2005 blog entry. Tarun also has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and has likewise been keeping a blog as a chronicle of his experience.

Tarun was a couple of months ahead of me throughout the chemo process, receiving treatments similar to my own, so his blog entries were touchstones for me. Tarun then went on to receive radiation treatments(directed, in his case, at a mass in the chest rather than the abdomen) – something I was spared, at the last minute, when Dr. Portlock at Memorial Sloan-Kettering took a second look at my PET scan results and decided it was not medically necessary for me. Dr. Lerner concurred. The fact that he received radiation and I did not enabled me to catch up to him, so that he and I received our favorable PET scan reports within a couple weeks of each other. By the grace of God, we’re both in remission.

A special connection, for me, is that the hospital where Tarun is finishing his medical training is the Christian Medical College in Vellore, in Tamil Nadu – a hospital established by Presbyterian missionaries years ago, and which has received significant funding from our denomination over the years. It’s clear, from the cutting-edge treatments Tarun has received, that CMC Vellore is right up there with hospitals in the United States, in terms of equipment, medicines and medical expertise.

Tarun’s a half-generation younger than me. As he was diagnosed, his wife, Anne (also a physician) was expecting their first child. Before Tarun’s cancer treatments were finished, young Koby was born, strong and healthy (proud Papa posted lots of photos for his blog readers to see). Once their training is completed, Tarun, Anne and Koby plan to travel to one of India’s more remote provinces, to join the medical staff of a mission hospital.

I can hardly imagine what it must be like to be diagnosed and treated for cancer while in one’s early twenties, still in school, and just starting a family (I found it hard enough to go through these things in mid-life, with our kids nearly grown up). To his credit, Tarun has managed the whole process with remarkable persistence, courage, good humor and faith. The motto of his blog sums up his outlook: “Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination.”

Recently, Tarun posted his final blog entry – explaining that, with the increasing demands of his medical rounds, he can no longer make regular posts. I’m going to miss traveling to Vellore, via the internet, to see the latest photos of Tarun, Anne and baby Koby, and to read of the daily events of their lives – as well as the big news about Tarun’s treatments and scan results. Life is made up of a vast number of these little moments – truly it is a journey, rather than a destination. Brother Tarun, I want to thank you for sharing those moments with me, and with so many others!

I’ll leave you with a blessing I so often share with my congregation: “Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord, rejoicing always in the power of the Holy Spirit!”


Tarun Jacob said...

Thank YOU! Pastor Carlos,
Could not have imagined the journey without someone like you to keep an eye on me! Getting to know you and share in your faith and life were of great encouragement through my journey. Hope we do meet someday, someplace!

Anonymous said...

this is a remarkable story and the computer is a remarkable gift which assited with this journey. thanks for sharing it.