Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I lost my wife to Pancreatic Cancer on 30th November 2009

I lost my wife to Pancreatic Cancer on 30th November 2009

I have not written so far anything personal in this blog. Now there is a pressing need to do. This note might give me the catharsis I am hoping for - through you, readers, who are my true friends. A very large number of you - nearly 100 - have sent messages of condolences sharing our grief. I also want to THANK everyone for their kindness and warmth. To all you I desire to say something about my loss.

Hardly eighty days ago, (September 12th to be precise) my wife was diagnosed as suffering from Pancreatic Cancer. And since last night she is simply no more. Cremated and gone. The shock
Is unimaginable and the grief is immeasurable. This can’t be seen on my face, though.

We were planning to celebrate her sixtieth birthday on 25th September 2009 on the occasion of her becoming a senior citizen! She had postponed visiting her daughter’s house in Delhi several times, ever since she moved out of Hyderabad some 18 months ago. This wish was never fulfilled. She underwent three Chemotherapy sessions at intervals of 21 days. After each Chemo she had a hell of a time with vomiting, nausea, excessive pain in abdomen etc. When problems taper down slowly, she had to get ready for another chemo session. After the third Chemo she had a very bad day with unmanageable nausea, mainly retching and sometimes success in vomiting. This took her to ICU in Asian Institute of Gastroenterology for five days and she ultimately succumbed to Cancer. Some complications were: Some block in larger intestines resulting in severe constipation and fluid effusion in lungs. She had a bout of viral fever for a week in between. During this one week all of us - care givers - (my self and two daughters), were also down with Chicken Gunia. I escaped with least trouble and my younger daughter is yet to recover fully even today. In a short period she suffered great pain. We are all thankful to God that he listened to our prayer: Please help her die soonest without much pain.

Unfortunately this pancreatic cancer is not easily diagnosed in early stages. When the discovery happens it is too late for any treatment. In most cases even surgery or radiation therapy are ruled out leaving Chemotherapy as final and only choice. 95% of pancreatic cancer patients die within a year. Surviving for 3 to 6 months is common. My wife happens to be a commoner!

What prompted her to go for proper diagnosis was an article she read which said: If you are above 50, losing weight and have severe abdominal pain then check for pancreatic cancer immediately. That is what she did and to our utter dismay her fears turned out to be true.

Only six months ago, on the occasion of our wedding day in May, I wrote a note stating reasons why I like my wife. It is reproduced below.

1. Devoted and doting mother to my two daughters: She is a friend, philosopher and a guide to them. She adjusts and sacrifices her own needs for the sake of our children. She compensates for all my fatherly inadequacies. Perfect understanding among these three.
2. Her innate intelligence. I can not tolerate dullards and dumbos. She is quick to understand situations and quicker to act calmly in crisis ridden situations.
3. Maturity: She has been constantly growing mature consciously over the years. Now almost everything is OK when it comes to others.
4. Her sympathy and empathy for others. She could even make herself sick thinking about others’ woes and misfortunes.
5. A Doer: She is a doer, ever active. When a problem occurs she would start tackling it right away (“Niptafy” she would say) instead waiting for some Muhurtam!
6. She is a stickler for cleanliness at home – a quality my children have inherited
7. She is never demanding – clothes, jewelry or anything like these. Her wants and needs are absolutely minimal.
8. She knows how to keep herself happy. She can be alone all by herself and not feel lonely. She does not demand even others’ time or attention.
9. Battling with poor health: She has been suffering from high BP for thirty years. Nature has not been kind to her health to say the least.
10. During the last few years (post retirement syndrome?) I have become a difficult person to live with. I KNOW. She has been putting up with me patiently, a GEM that she is.



  1. Thank you for sharing. Through it we know Smt Vyasamurthy and you better. And admire.

    God be with your family and you in this traumatic hour.

  2. Dear Vyasamoorthy Garu,

    It is so typical of you to share all the useful developments, with all the people who know you.

    You take things in stride and view all tragedies and comedies in life, in their proper perspectives.

    May you have a long innings, doing all the things dear to your heart.

  3. Smt and Sri Vyasamoorthy were not only family friends but a source of strength to me during days when my spirits were low. Both of them encourage every positive step I take in life. The are not ritualistic but the depth of their philosophy is a something that transcends the boundary of religions and dwells on the spirit which we call spirituality. They do not have even barriers of language with which many suffer. They speak Tamil and Telugu so fluently that we can hardly know that their mother tongue is Kannada. In fact in terms scholarly knowledge Dr. Vyasamorthy knowledge in Tamil is something which will put many Tamils to feel low. Their attitudes and practicality in life will make saints with saffron robes feel low. I can go on but I should stop somewhere.

  4. Please accept my condolences for your great loss. I'm glad that you took the opportunity to express what she meant to you when she was well enough to appreciate it.

  5. I know them in close quarters for over 30 years. "Leel" as Vyas would call her was a great singer and scholar and a multi linguist proficient in several languages. I really miss her and pray almighty to give all strength to Vyas, Sheetal and Swetha ( and of course me too) to bear this loss!

  6. Dear Dr. Vyasamoorthy,

    As a soldier, I immensely admire the quality of duty first. You have exhibited this quality by writing about the early symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer - a tip which could benefit one and all. And when you wrote this the death of your wife was a very very recnt event!! Yet, you chose to give inputs to others rather than grieve about your personal loss.

    Hats off to you.

    Best wishes for continueing with the good work for the society.

    - Col Arun Moghe

  7. I have seen at least 6 cases of cancer in the last 2 years
    I have also heard of palliative care
    My personal opininion is that when one is diagonised with terminal cancer, the allopathic docs should be honest about survival chances being zero.
    That being the case the patient need not go thru' painful chemotherapy; instead he or she should resort to alternate therapy like homeo.spritual etc and avoid surgery and chemo - for either way it is the end and the former is less painful.

  8. I am very very sorry to hear about the demise of Mrs Vyasamurthy. May the Almighty give you strength to bear the loss.

    Soundar Rajan
    Camp: Mumbai

  9. Dear Sri Vyasa mourthy, I share your grief of losing someone close. I have experienced it when I lost my 23 year old daughter, 3 years ago.Iam sure that God has given you enough strength to withstand the loss.
    Praying for you

  10. It is shocking to know the demise of your beloved wife. At this age, we know , how much wife means and we all depend on her and losing her is something which cannot be expressed . May her soul rest in peace.
    NATJANZY [ p v natarajan ]

  11. I thank everyone - Rajeev, Sivaram, Dr Vittal, Thomas, Mouna, Soundar Rajan, Jayaraman, PV Natarajan, Anonymous and others - for coming forward to share my grief. Very kind of you indeed. Vyasamoorthy