Ma, Aai, Amma, Mummy. The all-familiar term for mother.
Those are the many ways in which cancer patients address Shubhangi Pawar, a nurse at Mulund’s Fortis Hospital.
It’s the smile on her face, the calmness in her manner and her warmth that make patients forget their stress and the sheer physical pain of being a cancer patient. In fact, Pawar (42), a resident of Kurla, is more friend and family, than a nurse.
“Patients believe that cancer means death. The painful chemotherapy, radio therapy, and everything else that embraces the treatment of cancer can be depressing and all I do is console them; tell them that not to lose hope. It’s a phase of life, don’t be sad and negative, I tell them,” says Pawar.
Hardened by 20 years of service, the story of 48-year-old cancer patient, Vidha Jha (name changed), can still brings tears in her eyes.
“I can’t forget Vidha Jha, a blood cancer patient. The cancer has relapsed. This was in 2015. It was my birthday and I got a call from her husband that she wants to meet me. Since she was on palliative care and could not recognise anyone, except me. I stayed with her till midnight and the next morning she was no more. I was family to her,” said Pawar.
The mother of a son, 19, and a daughter, 15, Pawar often sacrifices her holidays for her patients. At least 20 cancer patients are admitted in day care every day and many of them are regulars, while six cancer patients are admissions. Almost every patient has Pawar’s number and they can pick up the phone and talk to her at any time, just like a 3 am friend. Patients told My Medical Mantra, that it never irritates her. Ever.
“I consider it my duty to serve a person in pain. I often visit patients at their home because I believe my responsibility towards them does not end at the hospital. What if they want to share their sorrows with me? I have to be there for them as their health is very delicate,” said Pawar.
So, why did she become a nurse? Her 73-year-old-father Chandrakant Parab motivated her to become a nurse, she says, and he is a proud man today. “Nursing is a field where one can bring positivity in ill people by understanding them and nurturing them. It’s a noble profession and my daughter is part of it, what else do I need!” he beams.
Priyanka Bandhkar (57) who is being treated for multiple myeloma cancer for the last four years says that she comes to the hospital happily, every week, just to see Pawar’s face.
“She is like source of happiness for me. Cancer is not a small disease. You need to have an immense amount of patience to bear that pain, those side effects. And you can trust people to make negative comments and demoralize you. It’s not cancer, but other factors that kill you,” said Bandhkar, a Kandivali resident.
“Counselling is also a part of our treatment, but nurses spend maximum time with a patient. So, it’s very important that you see a happy and motivating person around you. I get lots of positive vibes from Shubhangi and yes, this is helping in my treatment,” Bandhkar added.
Dr Shubhprakash Saniyal, haematologist and BMT Physician at Mulund Fortis Hospital vouches for Pawar. “She is is a good team leader. Personal interaction with the patients does help in their treatment”.