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I was talking to this gentleman who sat across me in the OPD a month ago.His mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and I was going over the details of treatment with him. He wanted to know how much the entire process would cost and how his mother was morbidly scared about the whole process, considering the fact that his father had recently completed treatment for Cancer of the voice box.During the conversation, I gathered he was their only son, working as a lecturer in an Engineering college and taking care of his parents. He had a sister, who lived in another city. What amazed me was his cool demeanour, his highly organised approach to the problem, his intense concern for his parents and the urge to get things done at the earliest. I could not help but ask him if this situation did not stress him out.He had a job to perform, his own young family to look after and if that was not enough, two ageing parents with cancer. His response was, to say the least, like a whiff of fresh air, in times where many old parents are left to fend for themselves in Old People’s’ Homes. He said, ‘Doctor, I look at this as my good fortune. I see this as a blessing as not many get the opportunity to serve their parents. I feel no stress’. He meant every word of it as I saw him handhold his mother lovingly throughout the process of treatment. I am honoured to know this gentleman. I thank him for restoring my faith in humanity and epitomising the real meaning of ‘Sevabhav’! #Breast Cancer #Max Hospital #Patparganj #Vaishali #East Delhi #Sevabhav
Never too old to make choices Last week, I met this lovely lady, pushing 80 years. I’m reluctant to call her old for her lively demeanour would put the chronologically young to shame. How I met her was because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately for her, she had early breast cancer. This is a delight for a breast surgeon like me, who is used to seeing advanced breast cancer. After going through the investigations, it was decided that she should have surgery. I started discussing the surgical options and just as I would do with all my patients amenable to all the options, I discussed breast conservation surgery, mastectomy ( surgical removal of the breast)and mastectomy with reconstruction. She was quick in making her decision and said she wanted to have a breast conservation surgery. I liked her firmness but her daughter was not so sure. When the time came for her to be admitted, the daughter came up to me and said that she and her brother thought it would be better if she went ahead with mastectomy. It was surely concern for their mother. They wanted her to be disease free and also thought that at her age, it did not matter if she lost her breast. At the same time, they were not sure that breast conservation and mastectomy yielded the same results. I spoke to her again and said that her mother had made a choice, which was scientifically tenable .Ten years ago, my warped mind might have encouraged her to go for mastectomy. Now I know, choice has nothing to do with age.The instances when husbands, brothers, parents, relatives and anyone else( read neighbors!) influencing surgical decisions have been too many and every time, my heart has gone out, especially, to the young ladies who have had no say in the choices imposed on them.Losing a breast is a self esteem, body image issue- the loss and its impact is borne only by the one who loses it.The lovely dame stood by her choice and it was executed. Choices are not about being right or wrong. Choices are about the freedom to make a decision and stick by it. The comfort of having made one’s choice is a confidence booster and can bring about unexpected results. I do know that, for a fact!
THE ART OF SELFLESSNESS OF PURPOSE Three weeks ago, a thin built lady from a remote village in UP walked in with her sister and her nephew, who lived in Delhi. While they poured her story of being diagnosed with breast cancer, I could sense an underlying anger. The sister burst forth with the information that her elder sister’s husband is a farmer and had thrown her out on knowing the diagnosis. He refused to get her treated and had said that she was as good as dead to him. The sister was vehement and was certain that she would get her elder sister treated. That is exactly what she did. I operated upon the lady. On receiving the pathology report, I shared with her that her sister would require both chemotherapy and radiation. The patient’s husband also came for that consult and asked me if he could take his wife home before she started chemotherapy, to which I said he could. Hardly had they left the room, that the younger sister returned to my room, furious. She said, ‘ How did you even suggest that he could take her back home? He will not spare her. How could you undo the effort that I am putting in, to treat her?’ I was stumped!She went on to say that she would look after her and make sure she had her complete treatment. She told me that she was a person of modest means with a one room flat but she would arrange accommodation for her sister and get one of her nieces to look after her while she underwent treatment. There was that intense look of determination in her eyes when she said, ’ Doctor, no way am I going to let her go- I take her full responsibility!’ How many times do you come across such unsung heroes in your life? This young lady is a hero, championing the cause of her older sister who has no voice. Her sister has a husband who has only used her but refuses to stand by her as she readies herself for her biggest battle, yet. She has found an unlikely knight in shining armour in her younger sister, who, I am sure will brave the storms lying in store for her. It is not the money in your pocket that makes the world go round but it is the desire and the will to help that makes the world go round. I love the spunk of this lady and have loads to learn from her. Selflessness of purpose is what makes her so inspiring and restores my faith in humanity!!
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