“I am destined to live like Anand,” remarked Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna to his doctor after he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer, 18 months before he passed away.
The actor apparently alluded to the role in the film Anand in which he tries to spread cheer in spite of knowing that he would not live for long.
Renowned gastro-intestinal oncologist, P. Jagannath, chairman, Department of Surgical Oncology, Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, who treated the actor in his final stages, recalled the human side of Rajesh Khanna, while interacting with the media here on Friday. He said the actor fought cancer for 18 months after a new treatment (a tablet each day) was given to him instead of regular chemotherapy.
In jest, he used to tell the doctor that he would like to be a Bawarchi in his house.
Dr. Jagannath was recently elected as the world wide president of the prestigious International Hepato Pancreatobiliary Association. He is the first Indian to be made the chief of that body.
Stating that 80 per cent of cancers could be cured if diagnosed early and treated adequately, he said the incidence of gastro-intestinal cancers was on the rise due to diet and lifestyle changes. He emphasised the need for regular exercise and proper diet, which includes fruits and fibre content. He said gall bladder cancer, which was rare in the south was more prevalent in north India and attributed this to contamination of water in the Ganga with heavy metals.
Dr. Jagannath, who established a charitable trust ‘Crusade Against Cancer Foundation,’ said cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and his wife Anjali Tendulkar helped raise Rs.1.5 crore for it.He also started a web portal ‘www.indiacancer.org’ to create awareness and public education on cancer.