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Pulitzer @ Cancer !!


Siddarth Mukerjee won the Pulitzer and I read the details in press  with admiration! It was an excellent story put together by the journos!! Truly, the credit goes to the awardee as there was so much good to write about especially when we were otherwise reading about suicides, scams and terrorism, including the war in Gaddafi land.

The best write-up was from economic times with a blowup of the good doctor and his parents. It read like who is who in academics and American Universities. Basically It is all about academic excellence of a certain doctor from a well to do Bengalese family who relocated to US and created history by his involvement in Cancer Basics and then Exotics as well. It seemed a natural journey from Stanford to Oxford and Harward with precision of a mainframe.Sids parents seem too well to do and a costly painting hangs on their walls .They seem to be well connected too.But more than anything it is the right attitude they have given to their son who must be well behaved and focused.Well aligned people set their doors in such a way that opportunities never misses  knocking theirs and they are predictably correct in opening it only to shut it on others . Fine !

I do not plan to read the book “Emperor Of Maladies. …..” in near future but I can surely dissect the probable process that culminated into the prize.  Cancer is now all about genes and for those with mathematical brains understanding cancer is like knowing the back of your hand .Now, knowing is one aspect, knowing the chronology is another and putting it in a narrative is yet another.Sid ,let me take the liberty of calling him so…… did exactly the same and it this documentation that created a story and therefore history. History of any malady is a tribute to memory of its professor who stacks away fact after fact in his mind and brings it forth systematically for the convenience of the student reader. Cancer is one such phenomenon which has terrified and intrigued the common man and men of science and medicine. It is a scourge which ought to be eliminated but is next to impossible for it could mean reversing the process of progress and development back to ancient times when there was no cancer. Can one turn back the wheel of time? No, it is not possible and hence we have to accept this emperor and learn to live or rather die with his dominance .This is exactly unacceptable to the modern mind which   has learnt to tantamount any adversity with force of reason ,science and technology. Thus the research for a remedy goes forth relentlessly and  unstoppably.

When I read about the man and his creation, I went back in time into my own experiences and anecdotes regarding the contributors to understanding of this disease 30 years back in Mumbai and I can quote with pride my own friends and acquaintances who had something to do with cancer. One was Dr Shrikant Gokhale  alias Baba from Pune , son of a popular general practitioner from  Punes  Deccan Gymkana  who took his BSc and then Msc and then joined the medicine stream to take his MBBS and later became a M.D pharmacologist and a professor.Dr Gokahale did some short stint with Sarabhai Chemicals and Squibb but being an ardent student of biology gave up his cozy job to join Cancer Research Institute. He had some training in Germany and German language and the man with European eyes typically of a Konkanastha Brahmin set his shop at CRI.He was a voracious reader and a thorough researcher. I had good fortune of putting him up in my hostel room as he had relocated to Mumbai to take up the assignment at CRI



He talked about starving the cancers by halting new blood vessel formations termed as angiogenesis. I could never understand this concept and thought it to be farfetched. But he was right and later significant studies emerged from John Hopkins,Sloan Kettering  and other US institutes.Doctorsahab then relocated to US and that was the end of our association. I salute this man who may be in his seventies or eighties for his dedication and hard work and I remember with nostalgia my visits to CRI and the tea sessions we had together.Baba tusi great ho(Punjabi)!!

The other pair I recollect was Dr Manu Kothari and Dr Lopa Mehta who were in fact related .Both doctors were basically from Gujrathi baniya family by birth but by their deeds they were brahmins.They were professors of Anatomy teaching this drab subject with verve. They were respected and adored by students as they had  off beat methods of teaching .Jointly they embarked on a project of discerning the nature of cancer and came out with an incomparable treatise on cancer which they named as ‘Nature of Cancer’ This title had two connotations. One was to discern the microanatomy of the disease and its occurrence and another was to recount the natural history of the disease. Again I must put on record that this was too heavy for me and I had no guts to ever open this massive compendium to understand its complicated nature. But then I had my own way to acknowledge this work of art and science. I was the editor of college magazine and wall paper and I dedicated a full issue on this book and published opinions and reactions on the treatise. This was well appreciated of course as wall paper was the mouth piece of whole college and any constructive activity had its unique right to be on display.

I have given my own Pulitzer to these valiant combaters of Cancer!! My life is not same as others put together and it is better to reward on your terms than others.That is Class over Mass!!Sorry!!

Cancer is now big business and reason is the very nature of this malady. Cancer in fact is an accident and any accident in society is linked with compensation and insurance. Cancer research involves millions of dollars and therefore attracts cream of cream manpower. It is exactly what attracted the likes of Dr Mukerjee with his incisive intelligence and attitude. Medical researchers are optimistic about a cure but there are agnostics who think otherwise. Cancer is a disease of lifestyle and any lifestyle disease can be treated and modulated but not cured .In fact it cannot be prevented as it would mean giving up our lifestyle of comfort and affluence. But cancer can be combated as it is a war on an organism and hence a counter attack can be rewarding.

With this concept one can evolve an optimal strategy  which involves turning back the clock in real time .The true remedy is to go back to basics just as Dr Mukerjee probably did by going into cellular Biology .I recommend the following steps : 1) Find out your native place or any village close to Nature.2) Buy a humble hut and stay like an ascetic.3) Give up the pleasures of life and live a life of simplicity 4) Employ 100 miles principle and only consume what is grown in its vicinity 5) Drink from wells and natural streams.6) Keep a cow and milk it with your own hands ,consume fresh unboiled milk .7) wear minimum clothes and let them be cotton khadi 8) Sit by a river and inhale fresh air which contain anticancer molecules which will reverse the process 9) Develop a relation with natives and tribals and animals and birds and flowers and bees . 10) Don’t starve but get healthy nutritious unadulterated diet 11) Keep away from chemicals and packed food items 12) Sleep well and get up at the instance of chirping of the birds 13) Throw away the watch and time piece and your Mobile and TV that will contaminate your mind. 14) Talk less and think less 15) Read ancient literature when there was no cancer 16) Hear the songs by the locals in places of worship and sing them by trying to play them on flute.


Posted in Books, health, Journalism, Research, Writing.

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