A Rendezvous with Dr. Ramesh Sarin

by March 11, 2019 0 comments

Dr. Ramesh Sarin

Defeating many odds at the time of partition, Dr Ramesh Sarin displayed fortitude that she believes is essential in fighting cancer, says Chahak Mittal

Barely four, her tiny hand wrapped around the plump finger of her father, who carried the mental weight of all that he had left behind and without any clue of the place that they were headed, Dr Ramesh Sarin migrated to India from her birth town, Sahiwal in Pakistan, when the country was torn asunder in 1947.

It was during these troubled times that she observed her father, mother, aunts and uncles work hard to feed the house, earn a livelihood and have a permanent source of income, which was lost in the backdrop of communal battles.

Her memories of the way they traversed through the roads in her childhood are blurred but what she has not forgotten was the manner in which she and her siblings’ pursued education with no external help at that time. Their only inspiration were their hard working parents. “There were no tuitions unlike today that could extend a guiding hand to enable us to study better. Our parents constantly worked hard to give us a life of comfort where we could grow to become successful in future. If your home provides you with an atmosphere of empathy and love, you eventually become that person. It all depends on what you are surrounded by,” says Dr Sarin, who works as a senior consultant Surgical Oncology, a breast cancer specialist at the Apollo Hospitals, setting an example for all the women who are unstoppable.

While talking about what a day, that is dedicated to only women — the birthgivers and makers of the society — means to her, she says that it is good to celebrate it since it talks about one-half of the society and makes them the centre of the universe which does not happen regularly. “Even though there cannot be a particular day assigned to talk about who and what is important, yet we should use it to spread awareness about women empowerment and how they need to look beyond their responsibilities and focus on themselves. They completely ignore their health and I shouldn’t be pointing that out as I have also never looked after mine diligently. It is a universal problem with women. They seem to forget themselves amidst a mountain of chores and responsibilities. In her younger days, my daughter would complain that I don’t give her as much time and attention as she wanted. I used to be so engrossed with my patients,” says the doctor who feels that women are experts in multi-tasking and that “no one could do that better than them.”

She goes on to add that Women’s Day is important as it makes people stop for once to look at the qualities of empathy and compassion that women have. She says, “It’s like a god’s gift to us. We have it in us. And it’s the day to embrace every woman the way she is — beautiful. There’s one thing that I feel should be done on this day and for that matter, almost every day — to make women realise their worth and tell them that they’re capable. We need to tell them that nothing is impossible and they can achieve everything that they ever dream of. They should be fearless in their spirit. No one should judge or stop them from doing something.” This, she believes, is the greatest tribute that can ever be given to women.

Indeed, if for one day this can happen, she says, it won’t be difficult to make it happen every day.

Well, for her, the day isn’t just about empowering women or paying their regards, rather also breaking social taboos. She says, “There is only thing that needs to be done when it comes to empowering women, breaking the stigma around menstrual hygiene. Menstruation is such a beautiful phenomenon. Why can’t we talk about it openly? It’s not some disease or a defect in the body. It’s natural and universal. The moment we achieve the goal of an open society, we achieve the independence of every woman.”

In her journey of more than four to five decades of treating and encountering women of all age groups suffering from breast cancer, Dr Sarin has also been an expert in counselling her patients. The cancer of the breast, she says, is one of the few cancers which has methods available for early diagnosis, has effective treatment and high cure rates as opposed to others. She loves talking and counselling women with whom she vibes well. “The first thing that we do is to ask them to ‘accept it.’ They tend to always question their own acts and curse god for landing them in this condition. However, there’s no control that anyone could have over anything and hence, we tell them to accept the fact, face the truth, and live with it as it will make it easier for them to deal with it. We ask them to dig out the power within them and believe in it,” says she.

She began special support groups which have a number of NGOs and health foundations, for 20-30-year-old patients where they can come up and discuss their stories and emotions.

Dr Sarin was also invited to UAE for setting up a cancer center in 1986 where she spent 10 years. She says that the only difference she found between India and UAE medical systems is that they are “more aware unlike people here.”

She believes that there is not a single thing that women cannot do and it’s very natural. “A woman winning an Oscar is also normal and natural. She deserves the award as much as a man does,” says she, giving an example of Guneet Monga who recently won an Oscar for her documentary film, Period. End of Sentence.

For her, it’s important to remain balanced and work with a peaceful and calm mind, no matter how harsh the situation, she says as she signs off.

Writer: Chahak Mittal

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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