Discovering Surgical Oncology
My first exposure to Oncology came from reading ‘The Emperor of all Maladies’. I witnessed several cancer cases while pursuing a master’s degree in surgery. Most interiors in India do not have well trained surgical oncologists; the treatment is haphazard. Training is essential. To me, taking up surgical oncology wasn’t just about medicine, but also a managerial aspect; the process of treating a patient and helping with rehabilitation. It is challenging, but the need of the hour.
Covid-19 brought over challenges that the world wasn’t prepared for. As a doctor treating cancer patients, the focus had only been to upgrade the facilities at government hospitals. The pandemic entered with no defined treatment and changed the discourse entirely.
Covid and Cancer Care
We are fighting everyday and it doesn’t get any easier. It is particularly difficult with cancer because the operation theatres and bone marrow transplant units are closed, we are postponing surgeries, some patients have relapsed; the challenges pile on each day.
We have now started with chemotherapies for patients post surgery, as well as for those battling any form of blood cancer where usually chemotherapy is the only way out. However, each round of chemotherapy drastically reduces the immunity. We recommend it to few patients who cannot do without it, the rest have to wait. All of us have a rotational 12 hour duty for covid patients as well. We are literally functioning with half a staff at the cancer unit each day.
On the Attacks on Health Care Providers
After all of this, it is immensely demoralising, to hear stories of violence against health-care providers. This pandemic has been playing out on our fear psychosis. This has lead to discrimination against anyone who provides services: delivery boys, vegetable vendors, house helps et al.
To every person who has been blinded by this fear, I appeal to you to take a step back and think before you react. We are all here to help you, but we need you to support us.
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