Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview with Dr Pawan Gupta, Oncosurgeon and the National President of the I CAN WIN association

Here, we introduce you to Delhi based cancer surgeon, Dr Pawan Gupta. Dr Gupta is the National President of the Indian Cancer Winners (I CAN WIN) association. He speaks to freelance medical communicator Dr Natasha Das about the association’s mission and activities. 

Dr Natasha: Please tell us something about yourself.
Dr Pawan:  I am a Cancer Surgeon with a difference.

Dr Natasha: A difference? Interesting! How long have you been seeing cancer patients?
Dr Pawan:  Since 1996...Immediately after my postgraduation in general surgery, I joined Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute. I took up Oncosurgery because that is the only thing I wanted to do. No other branch of surgery seemed to fascinate me as much as cancer.

Dr Natasha: Where do you work presently?
Dr Pawan:  As Senior Consultant, SMH-Curie Cancer Centre, Shanti Mukand Hospital, Vikas Marg, Delhi. And also as a Member Expert of Indian Cancer Winners’ Association

Dr Natasha: On an average how much time do you spend each week on activities related to Indian Cancer Winners’ Association?
Dr Pawan:  Indian Cancer Winners’ Association is always present in my mind and heart.

Dr Natasha: Please tell us about the starting of I CAN WIN Association?
Dr Pawan:   As a Cancer surgeon, within 5 years of my practice in Delhi, I had become quite busy with my surgical work. Every surgery was giving me pleasure. The bigger and longer the surgery more was the feeling of achievement. But soon I realised that these achievements were short-lived.  I was still fighting against cancer. Most of the patients coming to us were in stage III or IV. Many of the patients had been misguided before they seek proper expert advice. There was sometimes lack of adequate knowledge amongst the referring doctors as well. More than that, it was becoming difficult for people to meet me. My surgeries kept me busy.  I realised that if we had to change the scenario, I had to work at the grass root level and change the general mindset from “fight against cancer” to “win over cancer”. I realised the best people who could help do this were either the cancer patients or their relatives who had gone through the ordeal!   Mr R.K.Goel, Mr Suresh Prakash and Dr Manish Wadhwa, all of whom have seen cancer from close quarters and share the same passion... We joined hands to enhance our efforts and we had our first meeting on 10th of  February, 2008 and our association was registered on 27th of February, 2008.
Dr Natasha: Indian CANcer WINners’ Association is abbreviated as the “I CAN WIN” association. The term “I CAN WIN” creates a very positive vibe.  What made you think of such a name for the association?
Dr Pawan:  Attitude is everything in life. One has to have positive thinking.  “POSITIVE ABOUT LIFE”. Only then can one win over cancer. Once you start believing “I CAN WIN” the path is going to be much more smoother.

Dr Natasha: What is the main mission of the association?
Dr Pawan:  Our Mission – WIN OVER CANCER
Our Vision – To change the way cancer is perceived by the society

Dr Natasha: What activities does the association undertake?
Dr Pawan:  
The association brings together individuals and professionals to carry out programmes in
  •  Cancer awareness among public and health care providers
  •  Cancer prevention and control
  •  Cancer supportive care and rehabilitation programs
  •  Tobacco control
We do this through awareness lectures, workshops, roundtable discussions etc.
The I Can Win association has been successfully holding Win over Cancer - awareness meets in clubs and social gatherings or wherever a large gathering is expected. Here, participants are given basic knowledge about cancer, its cause, prevention, screening and treatment. 
The “I Can Win” workshops…These presently include both breast health workshops and oral health workshops. During our Breast Health Workshops professionals discuss various aspects of breast health including self breast examination techniques with a close group of ladies. Through our oral health workshops healthcare providers and volunteers discuss about various aspect of oral health including dental health, self oral examination procedure, the risk factors and how to quit tobacco. 
The association conducts ONCOWIN - Round table/Tutorial discussions of expert members, active and invited guests including doctors and others. There are detailed discussions about the cancerous condition and the experts are encouraged to conduct cancer awareness meets in their local areas. 
The association also enables gatherings of cancer winners (old and new patients) to create a platform for experience sharing, counseling and encouragement. 
Positive about Life – I CAN WIN Cancer Prevention workshops are conducted in schools, corporate gatherings, and clubs etc. These workshops help create awareness among the youth about tobacco abuse and its multitude effect on the health of the individual. They provide tips on making healthy lifestyle choices and saying ‘no’ to tobacco. These workshops also spread awareness about available vaccines against cancer. “AWARE WHEN YOUNG”

Dr Natasha: That is really a lot of commendable work for the society. Tell us about who can become a member of the association and how.
Dr Pawan:  Any professional, individual or organization which believes in the goal of the association and wants to be part of it, can join the association as a member, friend, volunteer or donor. A membership form is to be filled up. It is available on our website.

Dr Natasha: If someone does not want to be a member right now, what are the other ways by which he/she can be associated with the activities of the association?
Dr Pawan:   The individual can join in as a Volunteer/ Friend/ Donor.
He/she may choose to help in one or more of the following ways:
  • Organize and conduct I CAN WIN programs
  •  Be a volunteer for a program
  •  Sponsor an event
  •  Make donations (Donations are exempt from Income Tax under Section 80G of the IT Act 1961)
  • Be a Corporate partner

Dr Natasha: What are some of the immediate plans and goals of the association?
Dr Pawan:   We want to do a lot of things and are really excited about each program that we plan out. At the onset, we would like to be able to get individuals and masses involved in this movement.  We would like to see more number of awareness camps/workshops and screening programs being conducted throughout the country. Screening facilities should be available to each and everyone at close- by areas and people should not have to travel to long distances for this. We are setting up a network so that we can reach out to more and more people at the grass-root level.

Dr Natasha: Provided you had unlimited funds and resources, what is the one single thing you would like to do to change the cancer scenario in India?
Dr Pawan:  That’s a difficult question to answer. Maybe if I had unlimited funds and resources at hand, there would be a whole list of things I would love to do. If you ask for just one thing...I would like to setup screening/awareness centres at each city/town/village of India and connect all these by a centrally controlled network. I would like to ensure that each person who is detected with cancer early is given prompt evidence based treatment.

Dr Natasha: What is your key message to cancer survivors and their family members?
Dr Pawan:  No one is immortal. Live life as it comes. Be careful not fearful. Quality of life is more important than just quantity of life.

Dr Natasha: Thank you for your valuable time. It has been wonderful talking to you.
Dr Pawan:  Thank you so much, Dr Natasha.

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