Bhakti Tirtha Swami suffers serious reversal
Posted March 22, 2005
As you know from the previous update, H.H. Bhakti Tirtha Swami's cancer had somewhat flared up in the lymph nodes and muscle in the left upper thigh area since the recent festival. Since the festival he has been continuing his intense treament programme and a restricted diet as a means to slow down the cancer and potentially facilitate one last visit to some yatras.
Maharaja takes a lot of his medications via a catheter which inserts directly into the left side of the heart. About ten days ago he noticed that just above the catheter there was some throbbing and tenderness. This progressed to a swelling over his left collar bone a few days ago. Thinking the catheter might have become infected, a few of us went to the hospital with him yesterday, with a view to having the catheter removed.
The doctor looked at the swelling and wanted a scan to see what the swelling was before he decided whether the catheter needed to come out. Whilst waiting for blood tests prior to the scan, Maharaja went to support his briefcase with his left hand when he heard a 'crack' and suddenly jerked back in pain. The swelling had become bigger and he couldn't move his left arm very well. In light of this, the scan was arranged for more quickly.
We were all very worried that he had broken something but no one was prepared for what the scan found. The swelling was a tumour on the left collarbone, as a result of the cancer now having spread to the bones. The tumour had eaten away so much of the collarbone that only a thin layer of normal bone was left, which had now cracked.
The cancer is now in his lymph nodes, muscle and bones; his left arm is in a sling and it is unlikely it will heal. He currently has limited movement in the left side of the body due to the fracture of the collarbone and his previous amputation. He feels that he is going to leave much sooner than we had expected.
He gave a powerful class today in Washington, DC from his new book Beggar 4: Die before Dying, which will be available in six weeks. The class will be available to listen to on Monday on www.btswami.com
Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja's internal meditation has become very deep and his expressions of humility are heartrending. His main concern after the news was that he didn't want to be burden or disturbance to anyone. He has so much deep love for everyone but he is concerned that many of us will have a lot of difficulties in our devotional lives during and after this transitition. If we can try and take increasing shelter of each other and of ISKCON as a whole, take shelter of the holy names more deeply and cooperate with each other better, this would please him very much. He said in class today that the best way to keep anyone alive is by following their instructions and exemplifying their teachings, not just individually but also as a community.
We thank you all for your continuing instense prayers and love -- they
are much needed at this time.