Monday, October 17, 2011

Think Fest: Siddhartha Mukherjee

As we mentioned there are too many speakers we are excited to hear from at this year’s Think fest but one speaker we are eagerly looking forward to hear would be Siddhartha Mukherjee. 
Siddhartha is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. The book gives the reader a detailed account of the history of this deadly disease and how the war is being fought against it by doctors across the world. The India-born doctor teaches medicine and is a cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Centre.
His book was published in the U.S. by Scribner and in India by HarperCollins Publishers India, the book was inspired by a personal event. One day a patient with stomach cancer asked Dr. Mukherjee a simple question about her prognosis: “Where are we going?” That led the author to think the larger scope of the question in terms of cancer research. The book before going on to win the Pulitzer has already received critical appreciation from many quarters.
Detailing the long history of the disease and the battles being fought to conquer it through case studies, the book also provides a glimpse into the future of cancer treatments.
"From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the 19th-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee's own leukaemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease," according to information about the book on the Pulitzer website. The book, the site says, is a "magnificent, profoundly humane biography of cancer".
So after a brief profile about his book and him what we would really like to hear from him at the conclave would obviously be how and where India lacks in terms of research, treatment in tackling this growing disease. What are the steps and measures could be implemented. More than research there is also a lack of understanding of this disease in India, cancer is still stigmatized. Lack of counseling, lack of understanding of the disease and most importantly lack of support groups can make the person suffering from the problem a lot more miserable than the disease itself.
As his topic of discussion is ‘How tragedy can Inspire’ would really like to know his thoughts on how families, friends of such affected people can continue to encourage and enthuse the person battling the disease. At a personal level I had seen a family member suffer depressive behaviour due to physical changes in appearance, the after-effects of chemotherapy, losing appetite etc.. What can one do to keep the motivation levels high? How can we create a network or solace group for patients.
Besides this would love to know the latest research happening on cancer front, honestly look forward to a day when cancer treatment would not be as grueling as it is now. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts at the summit and considering he has lived in India what are his thoughts on India battling and finding solutions for the big C?

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