Home > Uncategorized > Pooja Kulkarni: Cancer and its Callousness

Pooja Kulkarni: Cancer and its Callousness

Hi Ekta,

My beloved mom passed away on July 2nd in Ahmedabad. She was suffering from metastatic breast cancer. She suffered from breast cancer in her left breast 10 yrs ago. After a radical mastectomy and 6 cycles of chemo she was declared cancer free. This was when we were still in the FYBA at St. Xavier’s. I was heartbroken seeing her in pain and the usual “why me”, “why her”,”why us”. All the guilt about me being a troublesome teen causing her to have this dreaded disease consumed me. My dad withdrew in his own shell of grief. My older brother immersed in guilt faraway was studying hard for his final year of engineering. But my mom fought on! She stayed with us doing all her duties and responsibilities !

Three years ago she had a chemical imbalance in her brain and it took several months for her to regain fine motor movements, talk without a slur in her speech and write in a legible way. She got great support from her college where she was teaching Hindi. I was in chicago then married and a one year old to be taken care of. My dad took great care of her tending to her day and night.A year ago she was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her pituitary gland. She tried to remain strong but it was heartbreaking for us to see her suffer. I flew down from Chicago to be with her, for 3 months i was with her when she would be admitted in the ICU after every horrendous chemo dose. My dad and me were there for her. Some days were good, some were bad.


My mom loved going out, eating out and was very social. The last whole year she spent holed up in a room unable to walk properly, feeling dizzy and weak and with splitting headaches. The doctors did a fully body PET scan on her and found out the cancer had spread to her bones, liver and her brain. The central nervous system was affected.

I came back to Chicago in January and by May end she could not hear and had started losing her memory. My brother who stays in Boston rushed to be with her and dad. Dad had been alone taking care of her till now. But when she could not move her legs anymore, he could not alone lift her till the bathroom. They got a nurse but things kept getting worse. She talked incoherently, could not feed herself. Eventually she stopped talking and was on a feeding tube. The docs gave us a 2-3 months.

I was still in chicago. My son had started going to school. One day I got a call from my dad telling me to rush asap and that they would keep her in the morgue for me if anything happens. I reached Ahmedabad and saw her eyes closed and gasping for breath with an oxygen mask on her face. She was in a deep coma. I touched her and kissed her. In two days she was gone. I dont remember when I last talked to her and had a normal conversation. All through this my dad lost 8 kg and is mentally and physically drained out. I brought my dad with me in chicago. He ll be with me for a month and then at my bro’s in boston and then back to Ahmedabad.

Ekta, you have been in my thoughts so many times. I remember the time when your mom was affected by Alzheimer’s. You being strong and going about your life! Being a caregiver is indeed very stressful. There are so many emotions involved and if you have someone to share it with, talk about it, it becomes liberating!

Thankyou for thinking of a support group for the caregivers. and thank you for reading this very long email. My heart feels less heavy now. May our sweet loving moms’ rest in peace and be our guardian angels always.With all my love and best wishes.
Pooja lives in the United States with her husband and little son. She lost her mother in 2009 and is learning to live life with a smile. On Thanksgiving Day in 2009, she was grateful to be alive and  for the support of her friends and family. 



  1. Bhadra Mehta
    January 20, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    I can empathise with you. and all the caregivers in this world My mother died of cancer 2 years back. Since i was the only child i had to make all the decisions and all the nursing.If anybody needs me to talk things over pls feel free to talk to me

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