BENGALURU: Dr B S Srinath comes across as a person who repudiates fate as an excuse. Instead, the consultant surgical oncologist and managing trustee of Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation, which runs the Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, believes in a fate that falls on people and forces them to act. Crediting human behaviour as a primary reason for many cases of cancer, with a very minor percentage falling prey to hereditary curse, Dr Srinath asserts that the thinking has to change and people have to look into their lifestyles.
“The future is worrisome,” he says. And it is not surprising that it is coming from a renowned oncologist who fought cancer for 35 years, extended life spans and even cured cancer patients completely. After all, he has seen the harmful lifestyle and habits of people, condition of hospitals, the gap that exists between the rich and the poor and the apathy of many institutions.
But he is doing what he can do best and what he believes is good work. Started in 2012, Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre is today a not-for-profit organisation with core focus on cure and prevention of cancer.
“The hospital is a result of many of years of experience, observation and to a certain extent, helplessness. Starting from my days at Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, I saw deficiency in the way we were treating patients,” he recollects while admitting that the scene in Kidwai is now better.
Moving to a corporate environment at the Bangalore Institute of Oncology (BIO), where he served from 1992-2003, he mentions he slowly felt a transformation in himself when he started thinking whether he belonged there. “The thinking grew stronger. By 2006, I had a firm plan in my mind. Thankfully, in 2008, Sringeri Mutt gave us the land and we established the hospital,” he says.
It is obvious that he has gone into every detail to provide comfort for the rich and poor, equally. The general wards are spacious, the upholsteries are cleaned every day, there are rooms for attenders, all at a nominal price.
One of the main objectives of the hospital is to remain in the cutting edge of technology by conducting cancer
research and developing innovative treatment models. “Our patients are a gold mine in terms of research. They give us insights into disease patterns and to understand human behaviour which is the core of cancer,” he says.
Since cancer is related to human behaviour, there is need to conduct a long-term interventional study, he says.
Another focus area is to have an integrated system of treatment. “We have ayurveda, unani, yoga, etc., but I can’t comment for certain that they can cure. When I was with BIO, a doctor conducted research using yoga therapy on breast cancer patients. Those who did yoga had lesser side effects due to chemotherapy and recovery was faster. So there is a certain truth in the benefits of ancient system of medicine,” he says.
Dr Srinath is also passionate about research in community oncology which involves creating awareness and educating people about taking responsibility of their health. “Even inculcating simple habits such as half a lemon a day or one gooseberry (amla) a day is enough,” he says.