World Cancer Day : Meet young warrior Jayant Kandoi, the only person in India to beat cancer six times
At 23, when youngsters of his age are hitting the gym and doing exciting and adventurous things, Jayant Kandoi is a frail sight to behold at 36 kgs, but you can sense the spirit of a boxer in a boxing ring. When he speaks, His opponent is a domitable one who has been relentlessly blowing punches on for the past six years. Jayant, a six-time cancer survivor, has prevailed every time he has come close to surrendering to his threatening opponent. Such is his indomitable spirit.
His eyes and spirit speak a different language, the language of fearlessness and an unexplainable zeal for life. Still, after going through several surgeries, countless tests, and medication, his body has withstood substantial damage. It’s almost impossible to imagine that a 23-year-old could bear this degree of pain and suffering undeterred and with a brave attitude.
Jayant has spent a significant portion of his childhood battling cancer. He has spent close to 1,237 days in hospitals that translates to approximately four years in hospitals. He says, “It all began in 2013 when I was in my 10th standard. I spotted a small lump on the right side of my neck, and to our worst fears, it turned out to be cancerous. It was also the first time I heard of a disease called Hodgkin Lymphoma. While there was no pain, the lump started to grow and become noticeable.” That was when Jayant first saw the insides of an operation theatre in a hospital.
None of the developments seems to perturb Jayant, and he credits it to the atmosphere at home. Jayant was admitted to Bhagwan Mahavir Cancer hospital in Jaipur for his cancer surgery and subsequent treatment. After six cycles of chemotherapy, Jayant was declared cancer-free on 12 January 2014, and he cherishes that date fondly. “It has remained etched in my memory,” he fondly remembers.
He returned to Ajmer, appeared for his Class 10 board examination, and went to top his class. All through school, he held the record for not missing a single class, and here he was forced to sit back at home for long periods due to feeling exhausted.
On 14 February 2015, he was readmitted to Bhagwan Mahavir Cancer hospital and treated for cancer. The young boy didn’t let his health come in the way of his academic goals. He cleared the DU examination and started his BCom course as well. In early 2017, cancer struck again, and this time it was pancreatic cancer. Jayant experienced bouts of excruciating pain during his final year while pursuing Bcom and was urged to return home since he was staying in Delhi all alone. He felt terrible that he could not complete his graduation and had to return to Ajmer in 2017.
“That was the first time that I ever saw my father tense up. The tumor was only 1 cm, but a portion of my stomach might have to be removed, and he was not fine with it,” says Jayant. With oral chemotherapy sessions, Jayant was able to top put the tumor in check, and for almost two years after the diagnosis, he was fine. Jayant enrolled in the distance education program and finished his graduation, not one to hang up his boots on his academics.
Jayant’s father, Ashok Kandoi, says that sending his son away for studies was a risk they took, and his life was more important than any degree. In 2019, Jayant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer yet another time at the same spot it had surfaced in 2017. It was his fourth cancer diagnosis, and his physical body by this point had taken a beating but not his spirit. His oral chemotherapy re-started.
Jayant’s family has witnessed it all, the ups and downs of his hair-raising health journey. While Jayant was the one bearing the pain physically, his sister, Harshita Garg (26), who is 3 years elder to Jayant, emotionally says, “There was always a sense of fear, but I also had full trust in my brother. Even a King with all luxuries would not have lived a life as my brother is with his undeterred grit.”
In November 2020, cancer struck him again in the lower abdomen. Every time cancer struck him at a new body part, and he became sick, some of the other relatives advised his family to get him admitted to some rehab center because they did not see the hope of him living. During the process of his bone marrow transplant from his lower back, the marrow extraction was, in Jayant’s words, his’ most painful procedure’. But he stands tall.
To keep himself occupied during such gloomy times, spread awareness regarding cancer, and help people financially, Jayant established a club called City Star Club and some of his friends. The club was born out of turmoil but worked relentlessly to secure cancer-affected patients’ funds, spread awareness, and arrange for medicines. It has nearly 350 registered volunteers.
17 chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions and one bone marrow transplant later, Jayant might be a shadow of his former self physically but has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of his mental fortitude. His passion for life, his love to live on is what inspires us truly.
“Papa has been with me right from the start. He had said if the need arises, he will snatch me from God, those words keep resounding in my ears, and I will keep fighting till the end,” says Jayant signing off.