This Sachin bats for complete ban on Gutkha
His eyes were moist and he was trembling with fear. He was just 24 years and already diagnosed with advanced mouth cancer following 6 years of tobacco chewing habit. He was married only one year back and his pretty wife was trying her best to be cool and composed. Sachin was further horrified to learn that half of his jaw needs to be removed because it was totally damaged by cancer. He wanted to live and he had no other option than to accept that permanent disfigurement and disability.
Sachin had started chewing Gutkha (a smokeless preparation in India) when he was 16 years of age. Despite being son of a doctor, he ignored all the warnings and threats. He protested – it was his life and he was free to take decisions; it was his personal choice and no one should stop him. Little did he know the addictive potential of the “mouth freshener” he was chewing with college friends? In two years time, he developed extremely sensitive mouth and few painful ulcers. He tried quitting gutka many a times but relapsed within few weeks. After many such unsuccessful attempts, he gave up the thoughts of quitting.
By the age of 23 he had restricted mouth opening, soreness of mouth and difficulty in speech. He was scared of visiting the doctors for his problem lest they might detecting something sinister. He surrendered to ‘tobacco” and lost all hopes of quitting till he met Meenu (name changed). Meenu was a bold and bright women who not only promised to marry Sachin but also reform him. The new found love did have a magical effect on Sachin and he slowly tried to wriggle out of his addiction. He consumed only few packets per day and promised her to be tobacco free by their first marriage anniversary. One fine morning, Sachin woke up with blood oozing out of his mouth. His worst fears came true and he was diagnosed with mouth cancer that too in an advanced stage.
Sachin underwent 8 hour long major surgery that removed half of his jaw and glands in the neck followed by plastic surgery. By the time he recuperated from surgery, he was started on Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy which literally made him terribly sick. It was his wife’s love that allowed him to complete the painful and toxic treatment …..after all he wanted to live for her. The process of treatment and recovery from this entire ordeal took several months of absence from his business. Sachin had to swallow his pride and seek financial support from his old parents. One year later, partially recovered, he still feels fatigued and anxious. He could not concentrate on his family business. Though his wife is still supportive, his disabilities and deformities prevent him from being a good husband. Instead of taking care of his elderly parents, he is dependent on their care. He is afraid of going for social events because he cannot speak normally.
All this happened to Sachin because he got addicted to a product that was advertised aggressively sold to him as a “Mouth Fresheners”! After having lost all hopes and reasons to live, a bright thought struck his mind: He decided to become a tobacco control advocate, and help others to quit tobacco. He had found his calling. Sachin metamorphosed from a depressed young man into a powerful health ambassador with a mission in life.
Sachin became the founding member of the path breaking anti-tobacco campaign called “Voice of Tobacco Victims (http://www.vovindia.org/about-us/) ” . In a meeting attend my 50 members of parliament, Sachin brought tears in everyone’s eyes by narrating his plight that eventually forced the Parliamentarians to sign a pledge to support ban of tobacco.
Sachin also became party to an ongoing suit in Supreme Court seeking a ban on Gutka and Pan Masala. He also wrote to Prime Minister to Ban tobacco. He says to all tobacco users – “tobacco nearly killed me, but I want to save you!”
One of the news coverage of Sachin’s misson: