Devastated By Diagnosis: How Rathnakumar Jowli Beat Lung Cancer

Devastated and terrified by the diagnosis, the patient and his family began a series of consultations with numerous doctors.

Sambhav Kumar
Written by: Sambhav KumarUpdated at: Apr 15, 2023 11:00 IST
Devastated By Diagnosis: How Rathnakumar Jowli Beat Lung Cancer

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 This is the story of Mr. Rathnakumar Jowli, a cancer survivor who managed to overcome last-stage lung cancer against all odds with the help of skilled doctors. It was in the year 2021 when Mr. Rathnakumar began experiencing an unexplained weight loss. With no further delay, he underwent a thorough check-up in August and was diagnosed with last-stage lung cancer.

"I was heartbroken and scared when I got to know about my medical condition,” said Mr Rathnakumar Jowli

 Devastated and terrified by the diagnosis, the patient and his family began a series of consultations with numerous doctors and specialised clinics. His search for viable treatment brought him to Fortis Hospital in Bangalore, where he was consulted by Medical Oncologist Dr. Adil Hassan and Surgical Oncologist Dr. Sreekanth Reddy.

 The doctors prescribed six cycles of palliative chemotherapy. It is a treatment for terminal cancer patients that aims to prolong survival and alleviate symptoms. And due to his advanced-stage diagnosis, the doctors decided to opt for treatment options like genomic testing or comprehensive molecular profiling of the patient’s cancer tissue biopsy. The results from this test were pivotal for doctors to individualise the treatment plan for the patient based on the biomarker mutation status present in the patient’s tumour biopsy.

What Happened After The Genomic Test Report Came 

Genomic testing for cancer is a type of medical test that analyses the genetic material or DNA of cancer cells to provide information about the characteristics and behaviour of the cancer. This type of testing can help doctors make informed decisions about the best treatment options for individual patients. 

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Upon the arrival of the genomic test report, the doctors were able to narrow it down to two crucial observations. The first observation was the genomic test report that showcased the presence of the rare mutation in a gene called RET (RET fusion) which can be treated with an FDA-approved drug that specialises in killing the cancer cells while sparing the other healthy cells in the body. 

With chemotherapy consistently influencing Rathnakumar's quality of life, the report was integral in driving the much-needed change in major treatment related decisions for Rathnakumar. Although the disease was stable in the first three months, upon the completion of six months, there was a rapid disease progression in turn, leading to a significant 20kg weight loss.

Roadblocks! Through His Journey

Though genomic tests remain crucial for detecting the mutations in cancer, their availability and high costs have posed a major challenge for patients in the past. Rathnakumar, too, found himself in a similar predicament as such tests were generally imported by the local labs which charged a very high cost for it. To his sheer relief, the patient came across a genomic lab, 4baseCare in Bangalore, where he got affordable and accessible genomic solutions. 

After working through the testing challenge, he faced yet another roadblock as the drug that was targetable to the RET fusion to treat the cancer was still in clinical trials and was not available for patients in India in 2021.

Close The Care Gap

To resolve this barrier and to ensure the patient receives the right treatment with the right drug, Dr. Adil Hassan and Dr. Sreekanth Reddy made several correspondences to the global pharma team via phone calls and emails, which included a lot of document exchanges, approval from drug control authority of India and custom clearance, drug was finally procured free of cost for the patient on a compassionate basis via patient assistance program. The efforts of the doctors paid off, and they successfully got the drug to India for treatment. 

“India has made a significant improvement in the field of medicine. Most advanced treatments and high-end investigations like genomic testing are available now at affordable cost. Consulting an oncologist for the latest advancements in cancer care can help in better results and close the CANCER CARE GAP,” said Dr. Adil Hassan and Dr. Sreekanth Reddy. 

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The treatment started as soon as the drug was available, and significant physical and mental health improvements were observed within three months. The results were nothing short of remarkable, and they demonstrate the power of personalised medicine in treating even the most challenging medical conditions. At the behest of innovative tools and techniques, the doctors successfully achieved the best possible outcome for the patient as he managed to survive cancer.

 "I am so happy to share my story and strongly encourage cancer patients to ask their doctors for biomarker testing when indicated; it might just change your life.  I would like to thank my doctors for suggesting the same to me and helping me get access to the right treatment on the back of their relentless effort,” added Mr. Rathnakumar.