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Road less travelled

Dr. Raghu Ram

Dr. Raghu Ram  

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Credited with spreading awareness about breast cancer to a large extent in the State, Dr. P. Raghu Ram is set to receive the Padma Shri

Talk Breast Cancer and the one name that will come to mind is Dr. P. Raghu Ram. Right from talking about the rarely discussed ailment to creating a high awareness about ‘Breast Cancer month’ every year in a bid to spread awareness and organising the star-studded Pink Ribbon walk, the oncoplastic breast surgeon has made tremendous headway in breast health care in the state in the last decade. And it’s in recognition of his contribution towards improving awareness about breast health care that he will be conferred with the Padma Shri this year.

“It’s humbling and a great honour to be chosen for this award. I am very happy and I think God placed me at the right place at the right time,” he smiles, between sips of lemon tea as he continues to go about his work.

With not too many medical practitioners choosing to work in the area of breast health, Dr. Raghu Ram chose to take the road less travelled and specialised in the field after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. “Awareness about breast cancer was in its infancy back then and there were no advanced screening programmes either. There was no such concept of a dedicated breast health surgical society either. I wanted to change that,” he says.

Settled in the UK at the time, he decided to move back to Hyderabad. “I debated if I would be able to achieve the goals I had set for myself. But my wife was very supportive and we made the move. When I began meeting people here and talking to them about breast health I was laughed at. Slowly but steadily I was able to make headway and spread more awareness about the condition. In 2007 we established the Ushalakshmi Breast Health Centre, a free standing place, at KIMS,” he says.

Ever since, Dr. Raghu Ram has successfully conducted several awareness campaigns including the Pink Ribbon Walk and roped in celebrities like Marcia Barrett, Gautami and Kamal Haasan and Pamela Yash Chopra to create more awareness about breast cancer. “My next step was to set up a community-based screening programme; it was implanted in 2013. We train health care workers to examine women between the ages of 35 and 60 to detect breast cancer in the early stages. I hope some day soon Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will become benchmark states for community programmes like this,” he says.

He also set up a support group as part of the breast cancer foundation to help patients deal with the emotional baggage that cancer entails. Apart from his medical practice and awareness programmes, he is also heavily into academic work, having penned several chapters on the topic for various publications and also teaches students. Given his vast body of work, the oncoplastic surgeon has been in the past bestowed with several awards and has been invited for talks and lectures by various international bodies of breast health surgeons.

While his work is his passion, Dr. Raghu Ram also prioritises family time. “My kids bath time was always my time with them. Now that they’re older I make it a point to spend at least an hour with them each evening. I’d like them to imbibe values like honesty and stay grounded at all times. While we don’t expect them to be the best in everything, we do encourage them to give whatever they’re doing the best,” he says.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:47:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/road-less-travelled/article6874712.ece

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