Tamil Nadu

Tributes pour in for doyen of cancer care

Bidding adieu: People paying their respects to Dr. Shanta in Chennai on Tuesday.  

Tributes poured in for V. Shanta, chairperson of Cancer Institute (WIA), who passed away on Tuesday.

Governor Banwarilal Purohit said a fine human being, having dedicated over 60 years of her life to cancer care, Dr. Shanta had always emphasised compassion and sympathy while treating patients. He said she was a role model for the entire women community in the world. Her demise was an irreparable loss to the people of Tamil Nadu, especially to the medical fraternity and poor cancer patients.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami recalled that she had joined the Cancer Institute in 1955 and served in several key posts. With her selfless service, she obtained support from various quarters and added advanced facilities to the institute that was started with 12 beds, thereby providing free and advanced care to poor patients.

Dr. Shanta took up several researches on cancer and created awareness among the public of the need for regular screening for cancer detection. Her service to medicine earned her plaudits worldwide. In 2013, former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa presented her with ‘Avvaiyar Award’, he said.

The Chief Minister lauded Cancer Institute’s humanitarian approach, providing free treatment to the poor not only from Tamil Nadu but also from the other States. Her death was a great loss to medicine and to Tamil Nadu, he said.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.S. Alagiri said Dr. Shanta’s death was an irreparable loss. He said the TNCC Trust had donated ₹40 lakh to the Adyar Cancer Institute two years ago.

BJP State president L. Murugan also expressed his condolences.

Former MP V. Maitreyan, who worked with Dr. Shanta from 1982 to 1996, said she dedicated her entire life to cancer patients.

‘Inspirational doctor’

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan called her “a truly inspirational doctor”. “I have endearing memories of working and collaborating with her, including the release of the State Cancer Registry with data on cancer collected throughout the State on December 29, 2020 by the Health Minister. She was instrumental in ensuring that the cancer is declared a notified disease in the State and also in the setting up of cancer screening in the State in collaboration with the Health Department. Due to her efforts, based on the recommendation of the State government, Adyar Cancer Institute was sanctioned the State-level apex cancer facility by the Government of India, facilitating additional funds and facilities to the institute. Till the end, she was committed to creating awareness of cancer and contributing to the treatment.”

For Dr. Shanta, work meant 24x7 for 365 days. While she was credited with many initiatives in cancer prevention, screening and care, she was instrumental in the creation of cancer registries and ensured that her voice on tobacco control was heard, doctors said. Having known Dr. Shanta for 64 years, A.V. Lakshmanan, adviser II, Cancer Institute, said he had learned a lot from her. “I joined the institute in 1958 at the age of 22. I learned many values in life such as discipline, obedience and hard work from her. She taught me that money is not the only thing in life,” he said. Crediting her with building the institute by hard work, he said the institute was a social asset that had benefited many.

An alumnus of Cancer Institute, R. Ravi Kannan, Director, Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Assam, said, “A simple down-to-earth lady, a caring physician, a champion of poor patients, a passionate researcher, a pragmatic yet idealistic administrator, a staunch voice against tobacco, a die-hard nationalist, a disciplinarian and yet a lovely and loving human being. She was many things rolled into one for many people. She and Dr. S. Krishnamurthi will never truly die, for they live through the patients and families that they touched and generations of students they trained and others who the institute they have created will continue to train. They would say and truly believed in it — wherever the institute’s alumni work, the institute is there...not just within the four walls in Adyar.”

Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder of Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre, said, “Dr. Shanta’s one point agenda in life was addressing the issues of cancer, including stigma, risk factors, prevalence and affordable care. What she has left behind is hope for millions of cancer patients and their families.”

‘Innovated greatly’

V. Mohan, chairman and chief diabetologist, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, said Dr. Shanta’s life personified hard work, passion, dedication and humility. “She innovated greatly in the treatment of various types of cancers and despite the numerous laurels which were bestowed on her, she always remained humble and approachable. She was a great team leader and an inspiring, towering personality. To her, her patients and her institute came first and everything else could wait,” he said.

The Tamil Nadu Health Development Association, Chennai, said that at a time when people feared cancer, she instilled in them the confidence that recovery was possible with appropriate treatment and care, ran the hospital and provided treatment to the poor for 65 years.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:24:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tributes-pour-in-for-doyen-of-cancer-care/article33613535.ece

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