Dr Sudha Sinha would pass off as the ideal daughter of parents of the eighties and nineties vis a vis opting for BiPC in the intermediate level, making it to medical college, marrying a software engineer and moving to the US of A to make pots of Green Bucks. The story thus far went off well but post residency and fellowship in Oncology and Hematology the couple ‘consciously’ decided to pack bag and baggage to return. Today she is Asst. Professor Medical Oncology, Mehdi Nawaz Jung Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Center, Saifabad. The passage to and on this seat was not an easy one and could be likened to a car rally drive with issues of going the wrong way, shortages, stoppages and breakdowns.
“We went to San Jose, we did all the correct places went to New Jersey and then Boston. I did my residency in New Jersey (Oncology) and my fellowship in Boston (Hematology) each of three years. Shravan and I always wanted to come back as staying there was not an option. We took the next flight out the day I finished my Fellowship. Did a small stint at Apollo Hospital but that was not what I was brought up on, coming from a family of people working with the government or for the government. Kept tabs on the advertisements being released from MNJ and grabbed the chance when it came by.”
Life at work?
“It has been very different in many ways from what I thought it would be. I was this idealistic person thinking I will have to do separate surveys on cancer, working with poor people and helping them out. The difference is, yes there are poor people and since I have worked in government hospitals previously I know the system prevalent there but the suffering a cancer patient goes through is totally dissimilar and is on a different plane. It hit me hard, a rude shock to say the least the misery gone through by the patient is indescribable and to add to my woes, the two other doctors employed here left for greener pastures. The picture changed dramatically as the only oncologist armed with an American degree was left to deal with a sea of approximately two hundred patients a day. You can imagine what I went through those days”.
There are many cancers that can be cured completely and we were not dealing with them. The reasons were varied, some patient specific and trivial, for instance not having the money to travel to the hospital or nobody to accompany them here, not being told that the disease can be totally cured in four or five sittings. Another thing that struck me was the number of children coming here with cancers and the mother in me decided to move in that direction.
After much deliberation a ward for Pediatric Oncology was started in October 2008, with fourteen beds. Within a month the numbers rose to fifty and from then on we have been averaging forty to fifty children per month. Treating children is a different ball game and it comes with a lot of uncalled for trouble from parents or the children themselves. To deal with such problems a group of my friends formed ‘IMPACT’. They as an NGO would come to the aid of those patients failing to come to terms with the disease both materially and mentally by giving financial help and counseling them about the ways to cope with the predicament. In most cases the difficulty is compounded when the parents of the child undergoing treatment have to come leaving behind family and wages to tend to this one child. There was this case I recall where the father of the child was crying inconsolably and the reason was his wife and other children were also sick. When the counselor spoke to this parent it was discovered that the only person willing and able to come and watch over the child was his grandmother but she suffered from Diabetes. A prompt decision was taken by us and the outcome was that the grandmother gets her ailment treated while keeping watch over the child. The point was to look at it from the patient’s point of view or in short from the other end of the yardstick. We have succeeded to a very great extent and most of these three years, since I’ve taken charge, have been spent in trying to put these vehicles in place so that there is no hindrance to our work and since it is the capital of the state we would like to make it a role model for other centers to follow”.
While speaking to Dr. Sudha Sinha one thought kept playing in the mind; why this lady is so and upon being asked she said something very natural, “By nature and nurture”. She has a long list of people from her family in public service or held public office. Her paternal grandfather Mr. Bijoy Kumar Sinha was a freedom fighter, her maternal grand father Mr. M. Anandam was a Rajya Sabha MP, her mother Ms. Shantha Sinha is a Magsasay Award winner. Her husband Mr. Shravan Karpuram is the Vice- President Tata Business Service Solutions, Hyderabad and is involved with Project 511 that builds or renovates Government Schools in Andhra Pradesh. An impeccable lineage!!