mid-day's 39th anniversary: Healer of souls

By Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

The onco surgeon with a heart of gold juggles timely treatment with financial aid to needy cancer survivors

Dr Meghal Sanghvi's extraordinary bedside manner has won her die-hard fans. Pic/Atul Kamble

Dr Meghal Sanghvi, 39
Onco surgeon

For patients who come to Dr Meghal Sanghavi, she is a giant ray of hope, working to cure or make high-risk patients' bleak prognoses easier to bear.

But she can recollect only two instances from thousands where she has made a difference. One is a 55-year-old woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her treating doctor had given her two months to live. At Sion's Lion Tarachand Hospital, where Sanghavi met her, she took the call to operate on her and start chemotherapy. There was another hurdle. She couldn't afford the R3 lakh treatment. Sanghavi, through the Kasturi Foundation, a non-profit she is associated with, managed to raise the funds. Six years on, the survivor doesn't forget to bring Sanghavi prasad each time she visits Siddhivinayak temple.

The other case, she tells us is about a man in his early forties, who suffered from rectal cancer. Since surgery was beyond his means, Sanghavi stepped in to cover both, his operation and post-operative stay.

Sanghavi is the eldest of three daughters, all doctors, to Devyani and Jayant Sanghavi. The sisters share a clinic in Matunga, where they consult daily. Sanghavi says she owes her success to her mentors at the civic-run Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar East, Dr Ketan Vagholkar and Dr Shalini Nair, but it's her induction into the medical team of premier cancer facility, Tata Memorial Hospital, that offered her the opportunity to gain rich experience. Sanghavi remembers how she had missed an opportunity to join Mahim's Hinduja Hospital, and heard about a vacancy at Tata. Unsure if she'd make it, she planned a holiday to Goa. But a call asking her to join immediately, changed the course of her career.

A part-time consultancy at Lion Tarachand Hospital and Ghatkopar's Hindusabha Hospital was followed by a stint at Wockhardt, where she consults under the guidance of senior medical oncologist Dr Boman Dhabar.

Her association with Kasturi, an organisation of likeminded persons looking to spread awareness about early detection, makes her stand apart from her colleagues, and she speaks proudly of the cancer awareness camps they conduct for a nominal refundable fee of Rs 50. "Thousands have benefited from these," she says. "I ensure continuous follow-ups with my patients, even after they have left hospital because a relapse, if detected early, can be contained."

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