After disheartening diagnosis, Bulldogs show support

By By Justine Stayman Staff Resource Manager

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Friends might describe junior Nachu Bhatnagar as a smart and quick-witted guy with more than an inclination for world domination.
Nachu’s life experiences could never be described as limited; he skipped a grade and traveled across the world with his family for an entire year, attended the prestigious and competitive Ivy Scholars summer program at Yale, and climbed part of the way up Mount Everest. However, due to recent events, Nachu faces another mountain to climb.
After six weeks of degenerating health and mysterious pains, Nachu was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital Oct. 14. On Oct. 19, Nachu was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. As of now, the cancer is regressing and Nachu is recovering from radiation treatment.
Ewing’s Sarcoma is a bone cancer most frequently found in male teenagers and is treated through a combination of radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
“I was shocked,” Nachu’s sister, freshman Radha Bhatnagar said. “It really didn’t hit me until later. But my parents said, ‘We’re going to get through this, we know the best doctors in the hospital.’”
Keeping to their word and rallying others in the process, Nachu’s relatives and friends have come together over the past months to form a web of support and encouragement.
Friends have posted pages and pages of encouraging messages on Nachu’s Facebook account. Friends, family and teachers visit Nachu at both the hospital and at home. His relatives, junior Meghna Balakumar, Radha and sophomore Gauri Bhatnagar have taken the support one step further by selling t-shirts in order to raise money for the Ewing’s Sarcoma research Foundation. As a demonstration of solidarity with his family member undergoing chemotherapy, Nachu’s cousin, ’10 alumnus Nikhil Balakumar, shaved his head.
This support of friends and family throughout the treatment has motivated Nachu to combat the cancer.
“I go through chemotherapy and radiation,” Nachu said. “Radiation ended Dec. 2, but the chemo continues for four more months. I then go on an accelerated chemo path, which is more difficult on the body but is more effective at killing cancer.”
Throughout the radiation treatment, chemotherapy, overall pain and exhaustion, Nachu has retained a positive attitude.
“When he got cancer, of course he was down about it,” junior Myles Taylor said. “I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t be. But since he got diagnosed, he has been asking me constantly for good movie recommendations, and with all of our conversations, he’s never seemed depressed.”
For the most part, Nachu spends his time away from school with friends and family, watching movies and reading. Although the pain of nerve damage and the effects of medication make physical activity difficult, good company always manages to make his time both at home and at Johns Hopkins more enjoyable.
“Just because he’s sick should not mean he’s forgotten,” social studies teacher Adam Field said. “He’s lucky that he has an extremely supportive family and two sisters who are just outstanding when it comes to their love and support for him.”
A long-term study of 205 cancer patients found that those showing fewer depressive symptoms had a roughly 10 percent greater chance of survival ten years after diagnosis.
If willpower truly is a weapon in fighting cancer, it will take the will and support of many in the community to ensure that Nachu can return healthy to where he belongs, among his friends and family.
“My friends have been a great source of support for me and they have really helped me get through tight spots by showing how much they care,” Nachu said. “The dedication of my friends and teachers means the world to me.”