Cancer patients are waiting !
Waiting for surgery ! Waiting for Radiation ! Waiting for their chemo drugs !
Today I connected with Bhagwandas, one of my patients from Jaipur whom we had sent for chemoradiation for rectal cancer. He was asked to wait as NO new patients are not being taken for treatment in hospitals. Its now over three weeks. He was worried about his disease. Will it spread? When will the treatment start?
As I do video consults with my patients from across the country, I can see a disturbing trend emerging. Cancer patients are waiting, waiting for long periods of time, for surgery, for radiation and chemotherapy is being changed to oral medication. Same is the story of another patient in Chattisgarh, another in Indore and yet another in Surat and I am sure this is the pattern across the country of patients waiting.
While initially I did reassure them that it is a matter of a couple of weeks, now it is going to be much longer. We do not even know if it is going to go even beyond May 3rd. They are exposed to 2 risks – one of disease progression and two of susceptibility to COVID. And third, most importantly, logistics and risk of travel which they are not able to do now.
I can imagine the problems of those have to undergo dialysis on a regular basis which may not be available close to them. What is happening in the districts and beyond is something which we cannot even fathom.
We have to start dealing with this. If we don’t then we are going to have more non COVID deaths than COVID itself.
Yes, with due precautions we will do surgeries. Some of the radiation centres are already opening up. If we lead by our own example then I am sure this effort will be multiplied across.
One thing is certain. If we close down centres just because a couple of patients or the doctors get detected, we will be doing huge disservice to these patients. We should be able to manage and run the centres with adequate sanitary measures and even rotating the staff and those who are positive can be quarantined for 14 days whilst others step in after testing. There is no other way. We cannot continue the lockdown for seriously ill patients. Period.
Our patients and our hospitals come first !!