Despite gruelling battle against cancer, Pune teen scores 91 per cent

Jun 12, 2015, 08:06 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Diagnosed with cancer at the start of Std X, this gritty 16-year-old was forced to drop out of school but continued to study on his own even as he underwent chemotherapy; not only is he now cancer-free, but he has also aced the SSC exams with 91%

Std X did not begin well for Mihir Joshi, who had barely attended three days of classes before he had to drop out of school after he was diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t let his illness get in the way of his studies, however, and kept up with his coursework even as he underwent gruelling chemotherapy. Now, the teenager’s determination has paid off double-fold, as he has not only been declared cancer-free, but also aced the SSC exams with a 91-per cent score.

Mihir Joshi
All in a year’s work: Mihir Joshi kept up with his studies even as he underwent chemotherapy, eventually beating cancer and scoring 91 per cent in SSC.

Tragedy strikes
16-year-old Mihir, a resident of Karishma Society in Kothrud, Pune, had just begun Std X at Abhinava Vidyalaya English Medium High School (AVEMHS) last year, and was simultaneously preparing for interschool basketball tournaments. But after he fell a couple of times and complained of swelling and pain in his legs, his parents took him for a check-up, and they learned that he was suffering from Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that targets the disease-fighting lymphatic system.

“Mihir is a good basketball player and despite it being his Board exam year, it was his dream to be a part of district interschool basketball competition for which he had been practicing since June, 2014,” said Mihir’s mother, Bharti, a volunteer at a special needs-school.

Doctors found two tumours near his spine. On July 17, he underwent a surgery and the tumours were removed. After the tumours were tested, we were shocked he was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” she added.

This was devastating news for Mihir, who recalled, “As I was an athlete, I could not believe this was happening to me. I used to tell myself that if cricketer Yuvraj Singh suffered cancer and survived it, I could do it too.”

The doctors recommended six cycles of chemotherapy within six months, and by November, Mihir’s reports were negative for cancer, said his treating oncologist, Dr Chetan Deshmukh from Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital.

“Mihir was suffering from an aggressive and unusual type of cancer and even the medicines that were given to him were in high doses. But as he is a good sport and an athlete, he bore it all well. Passing board examinations are not that difficult, but it is unbelievable that he has scored so well. He is a true winner,” said Dr Deshmukh.

As his treatment went on, Mihir would read his textbooks in the hospital and then discuss the subjects with his friends when they visited him at home. His parents hired a tutor to teach him Mathematics and Science and even his schoolteachers would visit him at home to help him with harder subjects, such as German.

His stellar results will go a long way in fulfilling his dreams, which are not to play basketball but to research and find a cure for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “My parents suggested that I should focus on my health but I did not want to lose the year as I wanted to become a doctor. Initially I wanted to be an engineer like my father, but when I learnt I had cancer – that too a rare type – I decided to study medicine so I could research the disease and help others,” said Mihir.

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