Life after Pulling through Cancer is More Meaningful: Mamta Mohandas
The 39th annual conference of Indian Association for Cancer Research (IACR) was hosted by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram recently
“I think my love for life has increased one hundred times more because this life was almost taken away from me and given back to me later,” said leading cine actor Mamta Mohandas, looking back at her experience of winning the battle against cancer.
Mamta was narrating her experience in pulling through cancer with two medical doctors having great experience of treating cancer and both cancer survivors themselves, Dr. N Sreedevi Amma and Dr. P Kusuma Kumari, former additional director and deputy director respectively of Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Thiruvananthapuram.
They came together to share their experiences and perspectives on cancer at a special session on the concluding day of the 39th annual conference of Indian Association for Cancer Research (IACR), hosted by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram recently.
All of them had a message for society: with tremendous advancements in treatment, cancer is no longer an unconquerable monster as it used to be considered in the past.
Mamta was diagnosed with cancer when she was in her 20s, in the midst of a highly promising career in cinema 11 years ago. She said she often used to think about the people who had lost their lives before all the new treatment methods that proved cancer completely curable were developed.
“I think about the people who have lost their lives fighting cancer. Cancer is not something that we fight. Any form of cancer is curable. Also, I thank people who have come forward to show their bravery,” she said.
The actor said she feels that her life is now more meaningful and better. “Each time I got it back it looked even better. It is a bigger and better life. My love for life is just oozing,” she said.
Summing up her outlook towards life on a positive note, Mamta said “We don’t have to wait for something like cancer to happen to start enjoying life. Do it now. Do it today!”
One of the senior most pathologists of Kerala, Dr. Sreedevi Amma said she is a ‘‘living example’’ to prove that cancer is completely curable, if it is detected early and proper treatment is provided. Uterine cervical cancer and breast cancer are the two most prevalent types in India, both of which are curable. However, in many cases early symptoms are neglected and the patient would consult a doctor only at an advanced stage. “If I had neglected (early symptoms) and waited, I would not have been here with you today,” Dr. Sreedevi Amma said.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Executive Director & Chief Scientist, WHO “The incidence of cancer is expected to double by 2040. Hence, we need education and awareness among the population across the world to counter disease causing trends like unhealthy diet, red meat consumption, decrease in physical activity, tobacco use, obesity etc. and early intervention to avoid society being overwhelmed by non-communicable diseases. In India, shifting from traditional diet to Western diet is one of the major reasons for cancer”
Dr. Kusuma Kumari, a leading paediatric oncologist, noted that things have improved a lot when it comes to treating children with cancer from those days when resources and technology were limited even in a premier cancer institution like RCC. She, however, said in paediatric oncology challenges will keep coming up. “The money required to treat children with cancer is very high. And, we cannot ignore the reality that children do develop cancer,” she said. The conference witnessed in-depth deliberations on the topic ‘Cancer research investment should shift from late-stage treatment to early-stage detection,’ which saw the emergence of a broad consensus that a holistic approach is ideal in prevention, control and treatment of the disease.