Michigan doctor ignores symptoms, finds out he has cancer

DEARBORN, Mich. (WSYM) - One Dearborn doctor spent long hours at the hospital caring for his patients.

But when it came to his own health, he wasn't as diligent.

"January of 2015, I got this cold. And even though all of the other symptoms got better, I still had a runny nose on the right side."

Sammit Sabharwal was a busy doctor with a young daughter and soon another baby on the way.

"One of the most dangerous things is when you think you know what it is, and I was like oh it's a nasal polyp," Sabharwal said.

For two years, he tried to ignore his runny nose.

"One day while I was working, I was like, 'you know, I'm just as bad as my patients ignoring my issues, I should probably go see a doctor.'"

In February, a doctor delivered the devastating news.

"I don't know exactly what kind of cancer this is, but it's cancer."

His mind raced to his young children.

"Not going to be able to be at my daughter's wedding or my son's wedding. Not going to see them grow up," Sabharwal said.

His cancer was rare, with the tumor growing between his eyes.

"Essentially, it's a cancer of the nerves in your nose that are used to smell."

His doctors knew the stakes were high.

"He needed to preserve his vision and his brain so that he could take care of his patients. So in a way, I felt that it wasn't just taking care of one, but his other patients as well. So there was a lot riding on it," said Dr. Rohan Deraniyagala, an oncologist.

Sabharwal had surgery to remove the tumor.

When it came to radiation, he learned that Beaumont had a better option, in the form of proton therapy.

"In treating the cancer with conventional radiation, you actually get some unnecessary radiation to other surrounding tissues. Proton radiation, on the other hand, is more precise," Deraniyagala said.

Sabharwal finished treatment in June.

He has a new appreciation for life and new sympathy for his patients.

His advice?

"Anything that lasts for three to four weeks, get it checked out. If it doesn't go away, if it doesn't seem like it's getting better. I had a runny nose for two years, it turned out to be cancer. Don't ignore things."