by Features Editor Sameer Majli
Cancer, a mass of misbehaving cells, is probably the most dreaded disease that the human race has known. The stigma associated with the term itself makes it a tendency for people to equate it with death. However, after decades of medical research in the domain of malignant cells, we today are in a much developed stage in terms of dealing with the various forms of cancer. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy, our very own Oncologist and his all unique Belgaum Cancer Hospital, our city is not far behind providing these life saving services. The hospital is the first of its kind in the whole world. It is the first Cancer Hospital that has been set up by a single person with such a vast multitude of services under one roof. Conventionally such ventures are the handiwork of groups of doctors or trusts; but here we have our very own Dr. Sandeep who is scaling new heights as a one-stop comprehensive cancer-care organization.
We at AAB are proud to note that Dr. Sandeep is a student of St.Pauls High School, Belgaum. He completed his PUC at G.S.Sc. College and his Medical Degree at KMC, Hubli. His is a story of a man who chose to come to his roots and do things beyond just routine.
Mr. Sameer Majli (Features editor AAB) managed to catch up with ‘The Man with a Mission’, Dr. Madhvapathy who provided All About Belgaum with valuable insights into his one of its kind organization. The following are excerpts from the wonderful things that doctor had to share:
- Why did you choose to be an Oncologist (Cancer specialist)?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> Many consider it very frustrating and are not willing to take up this branch of medicine. I believe and have experienced that it is the most challenging and consequently the most rewarding branch of medicine in terms of the need and the joy associated with successful treatment.
- Why did you decide to start a cancer hospital in Belgaum?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> I was initially keen to settle Bangalore since a large part of my schooling happened there. However, my father’s last posting with the Indian oil corporation was at Belgaum and we had a house here. Truth also is that I did my 10th 11th and 12th in Belgaum and consequently knew people out there too. My father wanted me to be in Belgaum and I respected his wishes. Eventually after scouting Bangalore, I thought Belgaum as a better option since cancer surgery or cancer hospitals were rather new to Belgaum and therein lay the opportunity. In Bangalore I would have been the nth Cancer Surgeon but in Belgaum I was just the second. There thus was a better opportunity to establish and prove myself and I decided to take up the challenge.
- Was it difficult initially in terms of trying to promote the place/the venture?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> It certainly was. The truth is that Belgaum had to grow to accept that cancer treatment could be successful. People had the feeling that cancer means death and that supra-major operations happened only in big cities. As luck would have it, the first operation that I did in my hospital was Oesophagectomy which is one of the toughest operations in cancer. I did the operation free of cost at Metgud Hospital, just to promote the fact that difficult cancer surgeries are possible in Belgaum. The patient recovered well and I guess that was the take off point.
- How has the treatment improved?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> Over the past few years, the survival of cancer patients has improved. Although it is a small incremental change, nevertheless, it is a good change for society, change that keeps you going. If there were no improvements, then I do not think the specialty would have survived. Drugs have changed; the quality of radiation treatment has changed. We have stayed abreast with all the changes and are happy that we are able to give good results.
- You have grown from a small setup in Khadebazar to a larger full-fledged hospital; what do you see as the future for Belgaum Cancer Hospital?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> Presently we have a comprehensive cancer setup with radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. In radiation therapy we have the Linear Accelerator, Brachy therapy (HDR) & Cobalt. The next step would be to go in for IMRT and IGRT which are improved versions of radiation. In surgery we would like to have two more operation theatres because the work load has increased and eventually we would like to move on to transplants. The key objective is bone marrow transplants for that is the ultimate in the treatment for certain cancers. If we can do that then I guess we would have reached the next level.
- What is your strategy in the wake of increased competition?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> We just keep doing our job well and the issue of competition takes care of itself. In reality I believe that our competition is with ourselves. We keep comparing ourselves with what we have been and strive to reach elevated levels in terms of providing the best services to our patients. This I believe is our strength and our point of focus.
- To what do you attribute the success that you have had to date?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> I was at the right time at the right place with the right attitude and intention. I was also well trained at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. My training was comprehensive. It was not just surgery but we had insights into chemo therapy and radiation too. Being with the best in the country you imbibe not just the surgical skills but also their way of thinking. That is what makes a good surgeon. It is not when to operate but when not to operate that we got to learn. I think the human side of cancer treatment was the most important thing that I learnt there and I carried it through as the philosophy of my profession. I would like to say categorically that I would like people to think that this is a mini-mini-mini Tata Hospital.
- What’s special about BCH?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> The human angle to the treatment in terms of the way we value each patient regardless of his background, ailment and status is important to us. This as I said, has been inspired by the Tata Model/Philosophy of operation and I guess I need not say anything more to indicate that it is our core competence.
- Any suggestion to youth you wish to take up a similar line as career?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> Careers in cancer treatment something that most think of primarily because of the challenges involved. In a cancer setup we have the radiation oncologist about whom the medical profession knows very little. Students who pass their MBBS and think of Surgery, Gynecology, and Medicine or say ENT/ ophthalmology. That radiation oncology is a career is not known to them at all. Radiation oncology also does not need to be followed with a DM as would be necessary in other domains post MD. You just do your MD and you are a full-fledged radiation oncologist. Within three years you are a specialist. The demand for radiation oncologists is huge. In our country today, we have got about 400-600 radiation machines and the requirement is about 1500. Thus in our line of operation, the toughest person to get is a radiation oncologist.
- Would you like to say something about our website All About Belgaum?
Dr. Sandeep Madhwapathy —–> I have briefly visited your website and I think it is something that Belgaum needs as much as it needs our services in the domain of Cancer Treatment. I am sure that both of us are dedicated to the same cause “The People of Belgaum” and that’s what keeps us going. I wish you the very best for your commitment and thank you for showcasing the dedicated efforts of the town’s very own “Belgaum Cancer Hospital”.
Belgaum Cancer Hospital Pvt Ltd
9666 A-2/D Ashok Nagar, Belgaum – 590010