On 29 July 2016, the journalist Sumegha Gulati died at the age of 26, after suffering for four years from Hodgkin’s lymphoma—a type of blood cancer. Gulati did not stop working, and produced several pieces of journalism during her illness, two of which were published by The Caravan. In her last three months, she worked on a story for this magazine on cancer treatment in India, based on her own time as a patient. She could not finish the project, but managed to record a part of her experience. This essay is an edited version of that record, which Gulati’s family recovered from her computer after her death. The drawings accompanying the text were made by Gulati during her days in the hospital.
ON A FEBRUARY MORNING in 2012, three days before a close family friend’s wedding, my face swelled up like a balloon while my body stayed stick-thin. But I wasn’t worried as much about the wedding as about the week after that. I was working with the Indian Express as a reporter in Delhi, and was supposed to leave, along with other journalists, on an official trip to Jharkhand that had been organised by the Central Reserve Police Force.