Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cancer is Curable

The deadly word ‘Cancer’ invaded my home, when we recently discovered that my wife is suffering from the disease. As it happens in every instance, the whole family felt shattered at the very mention of the word. Helpful suggestions from scores of friends and relatives started pouring in. Well-Wishers started offering prayers for the speedy recovery. While every effort is being made to give the patient the best of both regular and alternative therapies, in my own quest to find out more about the disease, I decided to attend a meeting of the Press Institute of India at which the Raman Magasasay Award winner and Padma Bhushan awardee Dr. V Shantha, the driving force behind the Cancer Institute in Chennai and an authority on the subject gave a talk on ‘Health Care with specific reference to Cancer’

“Contrary to popular belief that Cancer means sure death, sixty five percent of cancer cases are curable. Developments in medical science, especially in the area of Oncology, is helping patients recover from the disease and lead a normal life”, Dr. Shantha said.

“Lung cancer is the top killer among men mainly due to tobacco related habits, whereas among women breast and cervical cancer are most common. Both these cancers, can be detected early through simple check ups. Apart from regular Mammograms, it will be a good idea for women to physically check up for any lumps in their breasts regularly and also consult gynecologists if they find any unusual discharges between periods,” she said.

Dispelling the concept of miracles in cancer cure, she said that all improvements in Cancer cure were a result of modern science, which today can provide ‘targeted treatment` for different types of cancers, resulting in much higher success rate in Cancer cure. Today the disease can be diagnosed even at the molecular stage (without any sort of growth / tumor or physical appearance as such)

While one of the reasons for cancer in a patient could be genetic, she mentioned that sometimes the disease can skip a generation or two. Keeping in mind that `Prevention is better than cure`, she urged the media to create greater awareness among people that cancer is like any other disease and can be treated if diagnosed early. Even in the advanced stages of cancer, which had no cure, the patients are given palliative care to make them live a less miserable life.

Answering a question about falling hair as one of the most humiliating side effects of cancer treatment among women, she said, `though a remedy for this has not yet been found the falling hair will definitely grow again. It is a temporary sacrifice that the women will have to make, if they want a cure from the disease`.

Talking to several other cancer survivors and experts, I realised that the cancer patients willing to fight the disease with a positive approach to the treatment have a better success rate than others who give up hope easily.

I came back from the meeting reassured that cancer patients need not fear that they have received a death sentence from the God at the very mention of the word `cancer`. I am sure with the grace of the same God and her own will power to fight the disease, my wife will join the ranks of lakhs of cancer survivors to tell her success story to the world.

(The above article appeared in the Round & About columns of the August,2012, issue of EvesTouch magazine published from Chennai:)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Transformation of a Cute Little Colony

I have been a resident of Sastri Nagar in Adyar, an upper middle class colony in South Madras, since 1974. We were living in a rented house till 1982, after which my family moved to our own little independent house a couple of streets away.

I remember my first visit to Sastri Nagar in 1967. I was on an official visit and the Branch Manager of my company had invited me for dinner at his house. We had to cross a narrow one way iron bridge over the Adyar River connecting Gandhi Nagar, and beyond, to the city. A traffic constable was stationed to allow vehicles from either side alternately.

Sastri Nagar was earlier part of Urur Kuppam, a coastal village adjacent to the beautiful Elliots Beach. My friend’s house was one of the dozen independent houses in the area with plenty of open spaces all around. It seemed that during the rainy season the entire area would be flooded and Sastri Nagar would look like a lake dotted with houses!

When I moved to Sastri Nagar in 1974, though, the area had seen some development with more independent houses (but there were still plenty of empty plots). During the rainy season, in the absence of any storm water drainage system, the area remained water logged for a couple of days, making life miserable for all the residents, with knee deep water all around and all kinds of creepy-crawly things floating into the house.

Besant Nagar, lying between the Beach and Sastri Nagar was fast developing, with a complex of Housing Board flats servicing different stratas of society; categorized as HIG, MIG & LIG flats, paving the way for a number of shops cropping up. For all our daily necessities we had to go to Besant Nagar, or walk up to Lattice Bridge Road (LB Road), or to the adjacent Vannanthurai Street; a colony of Washermen (dhobis).

Modern stores on L.B.Road was our favourite grocery stores who door delivered our requirements. Today we have a number of depatment Stores in the area with a choice of both local and imported items.

For a number of years a washer man’s family was our neighbor. He (and many from his community) sold off their properties to builders, and with that money decided to look at alternative occupations; thus moving up the social ladder. Though Vannanthurai still exists, there are no Vannans (dhobhis) in this area now. Those who remain have become `Iron men’ or `Istriwallahs’, as they are known in the North.

Laxmi Sagar, the Udipi Restaurant dishing out delicious South Indian snacks was the only restaurant serving the entire area and it was located (and continues to exist) in one corner, at the Adyar Telephone Exchange signal on LB Road. Today we have a choice of multi-cuisine restaurants offering Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Continental flavours and within walking distance from our house in 14th Cross Street, we get everything from “pin to elephant”. We even have a branch of the ubiquitous Grand Sweets, just two minutes walk from our home.

Eros Cinema , gave way to the popular Wedding Hall – Shantha Sundara Mahal, which in turn gave way to Mitsubishi Motors showroom, was the only theatre in the area for long. Today the avid cinema goers in the area have to visit Ganapathiram theatre on L.B.Road or Jayanthi theatre on the same road in Thiruvanmiyur. Theagaraja Theatre opposite Jayanthi is closed down and is expected to take a new avatar soon.

Whoever was in charge of the layout of Sastri Nagar and numbering of the streets in the civic body must have been off his rocker! In Sastri Nagar the streets are not sequentially numbered. Eighth cross becomes 5th cross, 14th cross merges with 13th cross and the other way around. 7th cross runs parallel to 12st cross which in turn is parallel to 8th cross. 11th cross cuts across all these streets! Confusing? Imagine the plight of a first time visitor to Sastri Nagar trying to locate an address without proper direction. He will be totally lost in the maze of `cross streets`

In the good old days there was a `Kudam`(water pot) shaped water tank placed at on a height in the middle of the colony, with, a bus stop below it , which was referred to as a landmark for anyone visting the area. While the bus stop has vanished as there are no bus services on that particular road now, the tank too is lost among a host of multistoried apartments. Besides the streets are permanently dug up by the civic officials for some reason or the other. The colony has become a trap for unwary pedestrians and vehicle owners.

The price of land in Sastri Nagar in 1974 was Rs.15, 000/- per ground, which had become Rs.60, 000 by the time I decided to buy a plot in 1980. Today the price quoted is Rs.4 crore per ground. By virtue of owning a house on a plot of 3000 sq.ft. I can now consider myself a Crorepathi, at least on paper!

Until the early 90s, Sastri Nagar was a cute little colony, with lovely houses built by retired bureaucrat’s, upcoming businessmen and a few professionals. In the last two decades the greedy builders have managed to tempt the owners of the beautiful houses to go in for joint development of plots, with the result, Sastri Nagar has become a concrete jungle putting tremendous pressure on the poor infrastructure when it comes to garbage collection, sewage & water connections . As in the neighboring Besant Nagar and Kalakshetra areas, some of the streets are witnessing the appearances of commercial ventures in a primarily residential area, transforming the profile of the area.

All the development has come at a huge cost of the beauty and serenity of the colony. For over 20 years my home was a peaceful place tucked inside a small lane facing the Colony`s only Corporation play ground. Today we are surrounded by multistoried apartments on three sides blocking the sea breeze which we could enjoy in the afternoons. With strange people peeking into our homes at all odd hours, our privacy is lost forever!

I will, however, not think of leaving Sastri Nagar because of its strategic location - being located at a ten minute walking distance from the lovely Elliots Beach. I have been going for a walk to the Beach for the last 38 years- every day watching the Sun rise and breathing fresh air, recharging both my body and mind!.

It is another matter that I go for a walk in my car!

Feedback welcome on: rvrajan42 @rediffmail.com, or 984039208