“During my MBBS, I lost two of my close relatives to cancer. I’ve watched my aunt go through several painful therapies. It was the first time I experienced the pain that a family goes through when dealing with this deadly disease. After my medicine, my grandmother passed away with ovarian cancer. Several thoughts flooded my mind- ‘Could she have survived if she had been diagnosed earlier?’, ‘Why did this happen?’, ‘How can I help rather than be a spectator?’. That is when I decided to specialize in oncology.
As I joined as a resident in the oncology department in 2002, I was quite shocked. Coming across patients in the terminal stages almost pushed me to leave the course. However, when the same patients came back a few months later and greeted me with smiles, I realized we were able to give them a second chance at life. I still remember the face of a cute little boy from Karwar who was battling blood cancer. He was with us for a very long time but unfortunately he succumbed to the disease. It’s extremely difficult to not get attached to the patients as they stay with us for several months, even longer sometimes.
When I began my journey in Hyderabad, it was quite a struggle to find my place as an oncologist here. Thankfully, my parents and wife have been extremely supportive, and I had excellent colleagues. Over a decade, I have observed that there is a drastic increase in the number of cancer patients, and the age of patients suffering has reduced from what it used to be. This is a matter of real concern as most of them are diagnosed in advanced stages.
That was when I realized we need more awareness about cancer, especially in the rural areas. I began to participate in several cancer awareness and screening camps, and was even involved in the ‘largest simultaneous breast cancer screening programme’ as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records.
As an oncologist, I believe in connecting to the patient and their family at an emotional level as they go through a lot of turmoil through the process of treatment. It is our responsibility to clear their confusion and misconceptions so they can handle the situation better. I’ve always believed in the motto “cure with compassion”, and it is so moving when the patients and their families come back to me with gratitude.
As oncologists, we constantly need to upgrade ourselves. There’s constantly new changes in the field, along with the invention of new technologies. I was elated when I received the Vaidya Ratna Award, Business Mint Award for “Best Radiation Oncologist” for 2020.
I believe one needs to be anchored to the divine power to be able to face the adversities of life. Maintaining good health and emotional balance is key, and I am grateful to the almighty, my masters, family and friends for all the support I have received.”
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