‘Serving my patients is akin to serving God’

Continuing on with our series on strong independent women, we bring to you the story of Swapna Joshi who has been treating cancer patients since the last 40 years at Tata Memorial Hospital. Treating cancer affected patients is a challenging task. And she has wholeheartedly accepted this challenge. Swapna Joshi’s dedication and selfless service to patients affected with cancer is worth saluting


“A nurse plays a vital role in treating a patient, from the moment that they have been diagnosed, till the time they have been treated.  A nurse has to be emotional and mentally strong while treating patients who are suffering from cancer,” says Swapna Joshi.

Swapna has been working as a nurse since the last 40 years at Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel, Mumbai.

Nurses bridge the gap between doctors and patients. While treating patients the contribution of the nurse is as important as doctors. Together their combined efforts help in healing the patients. Nurses have to treat patients with constant care and be attentive towards their needs. Doctor and nurses work in tandem in helping and healing people.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Joshi said, “Since the last 40 years, I have been nursing cancer affected patients. Each patient is different. There were different patients with different types of cancer during this period. I have also treated children suffering from cancer.”

She added, “I have treated many adults but treating children affected with cancer is a bit more challenging. At this time, a nurse must be emotionally and mentally strong.”

She further explained, “Treating children is difficult as we have to communicate with their parents and support them. We have to go give them hope and also see that they maintain their patience during the course of treatment. During this time, nurses tend to get attached with the children, but they need to keep a check on their emotions. Some nurses may also experience emotional problems when the children who are under their treatment develop complications. Due to this, some nurses have experienced burn-out syndrome.”

Last year, Joshi was bestowed upon with the Florence Nightingale Award – an award given by central government for nurses. The award bestowed upon to 35 nurses from India. They were chosen for their extraordinary work in implementing health related schemes of the government.

It is huge honour for this nurse who has dedicated her entire life for the welfare of her patients.

Being a nurse, she also has certain responsibilities and duties toward her home. Speaking about the maintaining the balance between work and home she said, “A nurse has to take care of both her own house and her patients. I believe that a nurse is like a goddess as she has the capability and the competency to endure so much.”

Joshi added, “I don’t fast, I don’t visit the temple because I believe that the service and care that I provide to my patients is akin to serving God.”

Speaking about her experience of working as a nurse, she said, “A nurse does not have an 8-hour work day. During a course of one day we treat so many patients. We have to gauge the condition of their mental health and treat them accordingly. A cancer patient has lost all hope and faces mental anguish due to this disease. But we as nurses have to raise their spirits and support them. Once you enter this profession you have to give it your 100% and be dedicated towards serving patients.”

In conclusion, she said, “A patient’s life is short; a man’s life hangs in the balance, no one knows what will happen next. This is why, it is important to give patients a ray of hope. Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event for a person. That is why nurses, have to be steadfast and firm. It is the job of the nurse to help the patients find a new purpose and hope to start anew. This is why a nurse has to be strong.”