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I am a big fan of Angelina Jolie. So what is the big deal about it? Half of the human race is possibly her fan..her looks and her acting prowess has had the world swooning. I am her fan for a different reason. I haven’t followed her movies, her drop dead gorgeous looks or her personal life but I admire her for her courage. Some years ago, this remarkable lady announced to the world that she is having both her breasts removed. She knew that she was carrying a genetic mutation which made her susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer. Her family history was strong for both breast and ovarian cancer and once she tested positive for the mutation, she knew she carried a 60-80% risk of developing either of these cancers. She was faced with the prospect of prophylactic breast and ovarian surgeries. I can only imagine the sleepless nights, the battle within-to do or not to do, several rounds of long discussions with her doctors, family and friends, the impact on her career which relied heavily on glamour, her children... and so much more. And then she made that decision to have both her breasts removed and subsequently her ovaries. She shocked the world but at the same time catapulted herself to that realm of courage and fortitude that rarely people of her standing dare to tread. I joined her fan club and her story of courage became the benchmark for women caught in a similar situation. Why I recalled this story was when I encountered my own Angelina Jolie. This young lady of 35 had a very strong family history of breast, ovarian and colon cancer on her maternal side.Her husband was gutted when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I advised her for a genetic consult while planning for her surgery. The genetic consultant had barely advised her gene testing and was discussing the possible implications, when she said that she had made up her mind. She very calmly told the consultant that irrespective of what the test says she was going ahead with bilateral prophylactic mastectomies and bilateral ovarian surgeries in the same sitting. She came to be and conveyed the same to me. It shook me inwardly and took me a while to gain my composure as her husband stood by her, rock solid in his support of her decision. ‘COURAGE’ as a word probably does not do justice to the tenacity with which one arrives at this supremely difficult decision. I have done these surgeries before and this one was certainly not the last. Such decisions are rationalised within the multidisciplinary board, the molecular oncologists, the psychologists, the family and most importantly, the patients!! While I see more of these Angeina Jolie clones, I will always hope and pray that these amazing ladies’ decision translates into long, meaningful and inspiring lives!
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!!
Breast cancer is a growing problem in India and all of Asia and threatens to deluge our health services by 2030.What is worrisome is that we do not have the resources to match the growing incidence. We have to start looking for indigenous solutions to our problem of breast cancer. We do have a good pool of talent especially in the autonomous institutions and the private sector, doing good work but there is very little support to encourage them to pool together data and make sense of it. The numbers that we see every year should, ideally, have provided us with a lot of answers, had we pooled our data and presented it to the world. In an attempt to push this possibility, I brought together like minded surgeons and created a group, the Delhi Breast Oncology Group (DBOG), on 6th November, 2014.We are in the process of giving it a formal shape and the first step in this direction will be taken on the 3rd of January 2014, when we meet again. Max Cancer Centre will host this meeting and the first CME(case discussions) as well on 3.1.15. All clinicians with an interest in breast cancer ( Surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists etc.)are cordially invited to attend this program. For further information, please contact Dr Geeta Kadayaprath, Head , Breast Surgical Oncology, Max Cancer Centre, Patparganj, Delhi, India
Celebrated World Cancer Day (4th Feb), in advance, at Max Patparganj, today...Celebrated each patient’s fight against cancer. An amazing event, with barely place to stand but plenty of space in the hearts. While there will be reason to be morose and sad, there are many more reasons to be happy and live every day better than the last. My salute to all the Champions!!h
Today is Women’s day!Everyday, I celebrate the power of womanhood and marvel at the bottomless reservoir of strength and courage that the women I come across have. And I can only bow my head in reverence. She may look fragile but her indomitable spirit and her ability to take the unimaginable in her stride, can never cease to surprise you. What stuff is she really made of? Proud to be a part of this bold and beautiful brigade! Take good care of yourselves! This world needs more of you💖💖 #health#cancer#breast cancer surgeon# Max Hospital Patparganj
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