Never say die | Cover Story | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Mission admission
    July 13, 2013
    The news of a member stumping up over a crore for entry to Mumbai’s Breach Candy club only proves that the allure of private clubs still holds…
  • High on gloss, low on airs
    July 13, 2013
    As older establishments close their doors, premium clubs offering state-of-the-art facilities and personalised service open for upwardly mobile…
  • A rare mix
    July 13, 2013
    Getting membership into this 118-year-old club - once the estate of the deposed Tipu Sultan exiled to Calcutta - is no easy task.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
LOVE YOUR LIFE

Never say die

|


SENIOR CARE: Shanta is curt with doctors who don't take notice of in-patients

Dr V Shanta is as close to being a legend as possible. At 85, she is still driven by the need to cure and care.

On her bookshelf sits a dog-eared copy of The Words of God right beside the bookmarked 1970 edition of Clinical Oncology. It makes you wonder what comes first in Dr V Shanta's life. Medicine? Service to humanity?

It's possible even Shanta doesn't quite know the answer. But that's because for 58 years, Chennai's most famous oncologist has made the Cancer Institute her home in more ways than one. The 85-year-old doctor lives by herself on the top floor of the hospital, in a makeshift home. "I used to live in just one room, but now I have got myself a living room, bedroom and study, " she says. And in the hours that she isn't at home, reading, she is downstairs, by her patients' bedside.

Life's been the same since 1954. That was the year Shanta decided to join her mentor Dr Krishnamurthy, the son of Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy (India's first woman doctor), at the Cancer Institute WIA. "We started with just two doctors, two nurses and 12 beds. Today, we are a 423-bed hospital. That's the biggest change I have seen. "

The only other change she says she has seen over the years is in the way doctors treat patients, and she does not mean that in medical terms. "I cannot stand to see a patient lying on a bed with doctors marching up and down, not taking notice. Earlier, I used to get very angry with callous doctors, but now I am quieter. But I still let them know my displeasure, " she says. "We need to always remember that the patient has entrusted us with his life, " she adds.

Shanta says she had made up her mind to dedicate her life to her patients at the beginning of her career. "I felt it gave them that much more confidence to know their doctor was right there in the hospital all the time, which was why I chose to live here, and to never marry, " says Shanta. At the Cancer Institute WIA, of the 423 beds almost 300 are 'free' beds.

As to what got her here, she says it was both destiny and opportunity. The Cancer Institute-WIA was the first comprehensive cancer centre in South India and the second one in the country. "Oncology as a subject was pretty much new terrain in India. I knew there was a lot to be done, " she says, and adds that it took them ten years from 1972 to get the Medical Council of India to approve of oncology as a specialty. "I used to make 'pilgrimages' to New Delhi every year to appeal to the MCI, " she says.

Over the years, Shanta has received several awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan. The awards lie scattered around the flat, some hang behind cupboards, the Padma Bhushan isn't even displayed, Shanta says it is put away. "I can't even remember some of the ones I have received, " she says.

What is on display though, in a glass case by the entrance to her home, are three conches, hand-painted by one of her patients, a driver, who still visits her every time he is in Chennai. "I remember Narayanan very well. He came here in 1960, " says Shanta, and proceeds to talk in detail about him. And that's when you realize you've got the answer to the question of what comes first in Shanta's life.

Reader's opinion (1)

Anasua RoySep 24th, 2012 at 23:22 PM

It was wonderful to read about this great lady, the first lady oncologist I have heard about. Thank you.

 
Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service