They Survived TB. Here Are Their Stories

With the highest tuberculosis burden in the world, India is the capital of the global TB crisis. The patients of tuberculosis need more than just medicines. They need acceptance and care. With this common understanding in mind, a group of TB survivors got together to form a community that works towards making TB care more accessible and patient-centric. Here, three TB survivors share their stories:

(Photo Credit: Rohit Saha)

“I was 16 when I first started coughing  in the middle of my board exams. I thought it’s just a bad cough and it would go away soon. I don’t even remember those days. I was on a treatment for six years. It felt like my youth just disappeared,” said Deepti Chavan, 34, survivor of MDR TB. She is currently a Patient Advocate in Mumbai. 

(Photo Credit: Prachi Gupta)

A fitness enthusiast at heart, 25-year-old Saurabh Rane is an MDR TB survivor. ”I was just another student who rushed through attending classes and worked hard to keep myself in the rat race, until I started coughing and then everything changed. Within a few days, post rigorous tests, I was diagnosed as a primary TB patient,” he said. 

(Photo Credit: Rohit Saha)

“TB was just a medical term that I had heard. We knew no one who had survived TB or may be no one spoke about it. I later learnt that even most doctors miss diagnosing extra pulmonary TB,” said Nandita Venkatesan, 26, who is a TB Survivor and works as an online journalist in Mumbai. 

After being diagnosed with TB, endless questions whirled Ms Chavan’s mind. “For me, apart from the endless suffering, what was exhausting was the confusion. Why was my TB not getting cured? It was after a few months of doing the rounds at the doctor’s clinic did he tell me and my parents that I had Multi-Drug Resistant TB and recommended surgery to remove the infected part of my lung,” she said.

(Photo Credit: Prachi Gupta)

Mr Rane feels that India is not doing enough to defeat TB. “The public and private sectors need to work together to defeat TB. It begins with listening to those who are affected by the disease,” he said. 

(Photo Credit: Rohit Saha)

Ms Venkatesan was advised to not mention TB to any one. “I realised that there is a silence around TB as if it was my fault. I spent my entire college life pretending nothing was wrong with me,”  she said. 

(Photo Credit: Rohit Saha)

Today, I am cured and TB-free. I am a proof that TB can be defeated. We need is support, empathy and encouragement for TB patients. It’s not just a physical battle but also a mental one where family and friends matter a great deal, said Ms Chavan. 

(Photo Credit: Prachi Gupta)

Mr Rane got together with a group of TB survivors called ‘Survivors Against TB’ to help the ones affected by the disease. “We realised the problems that most patients undergo start with lack of awareness, family support, misdiagnosis, expensive treatment, poor nutrition, and no counseling,” he said. 

(Photo Credit: Rohit Saha)

“It was a cruel game. I remember lying in bed thinking that there was so much more that I would want to do and perhaps would never be able to. You see mortality and you think that if I survive, I won’t look back,” shared Ms Venkatesan. 

This photo-feature is contributed by Survivors Against TB – a community-based movement led by a group of TB survivors who are working to strengthen India’s fight against TB.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Me too a tb survivor. I was infected when working hard to stablize process in the office…
    Its not just medicine but i beleive in our culture many hard working people suffers from tb. We need to build a environnent where people should not suffere from such horrible desease.
    More people in india die due to tb than aids ajd cancer togather just because of two thing.. its a communicable desease and peope hide it to keep them before society as a healthy one.

  2. Even m a Tb survivor.i got TB when I was studying in 8th std.i was put on medicine for 6months..v caught it in a early stage.n it got cured .I rembember not going to school for months. Everybody told me to never mention to any1 that I got TB.

  3. I am Vinita Ferrao.I am married and 36 yrs of age.I am an MDR TB Survivor.Born and brought up in Mumbai….but currently staying in Delhi NCR with my Husband and Mom-in-laws.My fight with MDR TB has also been for nearly 3 years..I was in Mumbai for 2 yrs from 2009-2011..I was coughing and was getting fever…. my Gynecologist Dr asked me to get some test done and came to know I was positive(TB) when I was in my 6th month of pregnancy.My whole life was upside down……I suffered and even my daughter suffered alot …my daughter passed away in 2012 of TB Meningitis .She was only 2 1/2 years old.

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