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Cancer is often viewed as the end of the road in many ways, especially for the young afflicted with cancer. While the diagnosis of cancer, in itself, can be devastating for them, the consequences of treatment can actually push them further into a corner. One such situation arising out of treatment is infertility, a topic which was rarely broached with the young and old alike, till the recent past. With due care and sensitivity to these needs of the patients, it is possible to reverse a lot of wrong that treatment can bring in its wake! That brings me to the story of this young Champion I wish to share with you.The main protagonist of this story is a young Doctor diagnosed with breast cancer aged 26 years about 6 years ago. She was devastated! She was engaged to her sweetheart- a young Doctor training to be a surgeon. She was looking forward to a beautiful life when she was struck by breast cancer. This was more than what any girl her age could take. But she was different!She had spunk and was not willing to let go, of the life she had dreamt of. She soon collected herself to ask the right questions of her doctors. She wanted to preserve her fertility and after consulting an infertility specialist, had her ova preserved. She underwent treatment, thereafter and had breast conservation surgery followed by chemotherapy, radiation and 5 years of hormonal treatment, supported by her fiancé who stood by her like a rock.She was married to him soon after treatment. She is on follow up and all is well. The story doesn’t end here. She called me last week to share a piece of good news. She had given birth to a healthy baby boy two months ago. I was besides myself with joy and both of us laughed merrily over the phone. She came over two days ago with her bundle of joy cradled in her arms, her eyes overflowing with the selfless love of a mother. I could imagine what it meant to her. And this had happened naturally!! However bad the situation, life does turn up trumps on many occasions. These Champs give a new meaning to hope and I am wiser for it. If I am optimistic, you know where it comes from!! #health #breast cancer # breast conservation surgery #infertility #Max Hospital #Patparganj
Today, I got a call from one of my erstwhile patients. I treated her for breast cancer about 10 years ago. She had two young children at that time, a daughter aged 10 and a son aged 7. She would come on follow up, regularly. However, five years down the line, her husband got transferred to Guwahati.On her last visit to me, she was tearful. She hugged me and said, ‘Doc, I have one wish. I want my daughter to become a Doctor like you! And at that moment, I choked. No words were spoken and she quietly left my room. I thought I had received the best compliment ever. Returning to the excited voice over the phone. It was her. She told me how she had misplaced my number and how she had found my number through a friend’s friend, who I had treated. I asked her if she was ok and she said she never felt better. I was relieved.She had called me to just tell me that her dream was on its way to being realised.Her daughter was studying medicine and wanted to pursue surgical oncology as her career. I mumbled my congratulations and did not realise that tears were running down my cheeks as I put the phone down. Noble profession, indeed! #Health#Doctor#BreastCancer#Surgeon#Max Hospital#Patparganj
RISING TO THE OCCASION Yesterday, this beautiful young lady of 33 walked into my room. I could see she had had chemotherapy as a smart bandana adorned her bald head. She was accompanied by her mother and her husband. Her dazzling smile and her confidence as she took me through the journey of nursing a 6 month old baby, of discovering a lump which was labelled benign at first, of the lump growing in a month and she, of her own volition going for a biopsy and discovering she had breast cancer, shook me! She had visited 3 or 4 hospitals for various reasons and is on the verge of completing chemotherapy. She had come to meet me to discuss the surgical options and the implications. She told me that she was scared of needles and pain but her composed demeanour conveyed something else. I could see, I was having the privilege of interacting with a woman of utmost strength, resilience, poise and maturity way beyond her years. Her smile never left her face. Her mother contributed positively in equal measure but the sadness in her eyes of seeing her little girl suffer did not escape my notice. She required to have an injection to up her white cell count. She went to the nurse in the treatment room for the same and showed her a prescription for the same on her mobile, from a different hub of the same centre as ours. She refused without thinking what she could have done to help her-a cardinal mistake! The nurse was following a process, which said no medication without prescription, which was fine. What she did not do, was figure out a method to solve the problem. She could have got a print out, on our institute’s letter head and cross checked with the prescribing doctor and administered the medication. What happened next was no surprise. The mother was outraged. She had accompanied her daughter across half of Delhi for a consult and this Nay from the sister, truly rocked her frail boat. She truly took the nurse to task for being unhelpful and uncaring. The situation was brought to my notice.The matter was sorted out, a printout of the prescription was taken and the injection was done. However, the bitter taste in the mouth remained! I know for a certainty, that the only people who go to hospital, happily, are doctors and the staff at work. The ailing come, as they don’t have an option. They entrust us with the job of sending them back, cured or relieved of their ailment. We, as caregivers, should never forget to look beyond and see the footprints that they have left behind, as they walk the difficult path to meet us. There is a story, sometimes, most heart rending, that we need to know- a story that should only raise our level of empathy. Each one of us has to walk that extra mile, go beyond our call of duty to ensure that we do our best for the person sitting across the table, entrusting us with making some of the toughest decisions of their lives. We, as professionals, have to really rise to the occasion, every single time!
SURGERY FOR BREAST CANCER IS NOT ABOUT REMOVING BREASTS, ALWAYS… In the 1960’s, the conviction that breast cancer was a systemic disease at inception and not a local disease, prompted trials to address one question- ‘Are we doing too much?’ Radical mastectomy was replaced by modified radical mastectomy- a procedure not as mutilating as radical mastectomy ( the chest muscles were preserved)but still one, which involved loss of an organ. Moreover, to a woman, it meant much more than the loss of an organ. It probably entailed a huge psychological blow besides casting a shadow on her feminity. She, being the woman she was, in those days, came to terms with this loss, in the best manner possible. All that mattered to her was her getting well, on her feet and ready to discharge the duties of a wife, mother, daughter and more. And there was really no choice then because the doctors treating her were also convinced that sacrificing the breast was the only chance of getting well. More tomorrow.....on Evolution of treatment
Ladies in pink, celebrating life... A heady mix of survivors, doctors, volunteers, partners, friends ..... Can anyone tell the difference? That is where life wins and everything else, even breast cancer, becomes insignificant! For further details... Please contact Dr Geeta Kadayaprath, Head, Breast Surgical Oncology, Max Cancer Centre, Patparganj, Delhi
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