Vasil Mirchev is being treated for colon cancer and although he is 71 years old, he continues to work. He openly shares his story and thus participates in the "To have me at home more time" campaign of the Federation "Bulgarian Patient Forum" for the prevention of colorectal cancer and support for patients with this disease. Currently, there is no national policy for cancer prevention. The initiative is left to the patients. Doctors advise all people over the age of 50 to have a colonoscopy to detect colorectal cancer in time and treat it successfully.
Mr. Mirchev, do you live he althily?
- Can't say I eat he althy. I eat everything, no diets. Maybe it's a gene that I'm not overweight. But I have been exercising. I ride a bike, I go swimming.
Has anyone in the family had a similar he alth problem?
- My father suffered from skin cancer.
Have you ever wondered where you got this disease from?
- Doctors can't tell where it came from. It just came. Cancers are very specific.
Did you have any symptoms of colorectal carcinoma?
- I have felt absolutely no symptoms. I have never been sick, not even with the flu. I had no he alth problems. Three weeks before I was diagnosed, the personal doctor called me for preventive examinations - they took my blood for testing, did an EKG and so on, but nothing showed abnormalities. One Sunday I went with friends to climb the Black Peak of Vitosha. Halfway through I started getting short of breath and turned back. I got constipated on Monday. I could not defecate for four days. Meanwhile, I was going to work. My colleagues said: "Look in the mirror how yellow you are". Blood poisoning has begun. Friday night I started throwing up what was almost feces. My son took me to "Pirogov".
The doctor directly told me that I have colon cancer
This happened on August 18, 2012. Dr. Stefanov operated on me in "Pirogov" and removed my stoma (anus preter). I was discharged, but the wound became inflamed and I went to the Oncology Department in Sofia (SBALO). After several rounds of chemotherapy and antibiotic infusions, I was discharged. On January 7, 2013, I was again admitted to this hospital by Dr. Angelova to have my stoma removed. Then I felt good. But the scan showed a spot on the liver and on April 26 I had the liver operation. I had a hard time recovering, almost three weeks. In September, lymph node formations appeared. Another operation. A year later everything was normal. But the problem with the lymph nodes came back and on October 6, 2014 I had the fifth operation.
What is your impression of the specialists, of the entire system of treatment of this oncological disease?
- My impressions of the surgeons are positive. But it is better that one does not end up in such medical facilities. I really didn't feel like going to the fifth operation. I didn't want to go through all that again. But what else can I do? I went.
I never get depressed
I just take things as they are. The first one I was opened from top to bottom and my stoma was removed. The most difficult and complicated was the liver operation. The incision was from the liver on the back to the middle of the abdomen, and more. I had the hardest time recovering from it. I felt terrible for two weeks. Scars hide. A year later, the first scar disappeared. That's the problem, the scars.
How did he give you hope, what predictions did Dr. Angelova give you?
- I don't ask and she doesn't tell me any predictions. Just as he was bandaging me, he once asked me if I was drinking aloe vera and if I was using any other treatments. I call her: "No". He answered me: "That's how it should be, the body recovers naturally. And don't believe what is written on the Internet, various grandmother's nineties. In medicine is the truth.”
Indeed, many cancer patients resort to alternative methods, to additional treatments
- I have heard too. Even recently, a friend offered me a recipe for a folk remedy. I refused. I do not listen to and do not follow such advice. I only trust doctors. I had a young neighbor about thirty years ago with a lump on her breast. One of her breasts was cut off. The doctor suggested that she cut the other one too just to be on the safe side. However, her husband found a healer of some sort. They were with this healer in Shumensko for three months. When he came back, the doctor said, "It's too late." Two weeks after that, the woman was gone. That's why I don't trust healers.
Have you had chemotherapy?
- Oh, I can't count how many chemo treatments I've had. Even after the first operation in the Oncology Department, I underwent several chemotherapies. When they put my stoma back in - a few more chemotherapies. After the liver surgery too. I have a dozen chemotherapy treatments after each surgery. Everyone in the department already knows me.
How did you bear them?
- After the first chemotherapies, which lasted for three days, I walked like on pins and needles. I didn't feel comfortable. But I persevered. After the last surgery, the chemotherapies are only one hour each. The wait is actually more than the infusion itself. Other patients ask me what I've been infused with, but I don't. I don't care.
Doctors know their job
If they explain to me, what will I gain or lose?
Now what's next for you?
- Another chemo and scan. If the test shows that everything is normal, maybe there will be chemotherapy again, but no surgery.
How do you view all these trials in your life?
- Positive. I'm not one to get overly impressed or depressed. These are the things of life. Whether it's from cancer or another disease, he'll still die. Billionaires are also dying from this disease. You know what it says on Omurtag's column: "A man may live well, dies and another is born." As in the barracks: "Once you're in, you have to get out." So it is with life. (laughs) I'm not afraid of death. I don't even think about her. I just live peacefully. I have a grandson with whom I like to walk and talk.
What do you explain to him about your illness?
- I never hid cancer from anyone. Everyone understood from the beginning. I said to the child: "I have a bad disease, it's called cancer." But I struggle with it. I hope I get well.” My grandson kissed me and that's it.
Are you able to work?
- I haven't stopped at all. I was only in hospital for a few days until the operations were done. I am a mechanical technician by profession, I repair sewing machines. I'm warned not to lift heavy objects, but my tool bag weighs a dozen or more pounds. Yes, but I pick her up. I go to the sewing shops with her. My hands are strong.