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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 198-199

Onco awareness in pandemic times

Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Date of Submission27-Dec-2020
Date of Decision10-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance18-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication21-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ajith Cherian
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_370_20

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How to cite this article:
Cherian A. Onco awareness in pandemic times. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:198-9

How to cite this URL:
Cherian A. Onco awareness in pandemic times. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 22];4:198-9. Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2021/4/2/198/320119

Times have slipped beyond the fourth phase of the lockdown. Heavens have sort of given up. It is between us and the virus now – and neither is willing to negotiate. People are frustrated beyond imagination. Just to give you an idea – the most anticipated entertainment of the day happens to be the evening political discourse on television, which is a virtual saliva shed with acoustic disharmony and crystal shattering noise pollution. The nonsense that is splattered is nothing short of verbal diarrhea with an incompetent sphincter. The young and the old hang around their television sets every evening, akin to the first time mini screen release of a superstar blockbuster. This validates the adage “micro news is mega news in no news time.”

That's when I, the junior medical officer, got a call for a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) screening camp to be set up in a distant hamlet. Apparently, a COVID-19-positive person from another part of the state visited the hamlet and sold coppice stuff for a couple of days. In order to avoid any further damage, he was quarantined in a nearby hospital, and this hamlet was now a hotspot.

I, who had been sumo wrestling with my medical postgraduation books those months, not knowing the D-day of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test examination thought that this screening camp would be a welcome break. After all, we are supposed to be risk-taking, bare-all warriors working ourselves to fatigue in the most adverse conditions while smiling coyly. As our medical team comprised dentists, nurses, pharmacists, etc., our COVID-19 screening camp soon became a mini cancer awareness camp given the isolated nature of the hamlet and the prevalent tobacco use there.

Hence, we set out for this remote place. Our van left the tarred road, the mud path, and the last remnants of what appeared to be a track. Those who have migraine and travel sickness combined in equal proportions can imagine how this ride must have felt like! I felt as if my stomach was forever conspiring against me. The rest of the distance we trudged on our crus.* Desperate times require desperate measures. What next? Leeches?

I thought we would be provided with a personal protective equipment (PPE) kit, while they thought we would bring our own PPE. Hence, what stood between me and the virus was a handkerchief tied around my facial orifices. A small crowd had gathered, mainly the womenfolk with kids, as this was the only wee bit of entertainment they had witnessed in ages. Their eyes were mainly focused on the free medicine bottles and the energy drink packets that we had come with. The few menfolk had their eyes on our sanitizer bottles, not exactly because they were virus conscious. I hoped against hope that their toxic masculinity mixed with ethanol craving would not make them overindulgent. However, better sense prevailed. We collected the swabs from the so-called immediate contacts and uttered something about nicotine and cancer in nuanced tones. We thought we would start with the known and declared, “COVID-19 is not the only reason why an elderly male may cough and later become breathless; it could be lung cancer,” and we showed them the picture of a crab. We could perceive some broad smiles and mouth-watering facies on seeing the crab. Suspecting that our plot was getting derailed, we handed over the remaining deworming tablets and iron syrups and finished the job in a jiffy.

By then, it was past 3 p.m. Our biscuit packets were over, water bottles empty, and there was not a single eatery in sight. During lockdown, all the shops had closed, and none had reopened. Worse still, the health service vehicle broke down, as usual, even before it reached the mud tracks on its way back. We walked to the nearest area with a mobile phone signal, got an alternative vehicle by 11 p.m., reached the lab by 5 a.m. the next day only to realize that we had forgotten the collected swabs in the vehicle that broke down. I gave them the best constipated smile I could.

The next day, the new crew arrived at the spot, only to find the collected swabs missing from the van. A careful perusal of the surroundings revealed that they were being used as new-found toys by our simian counterparts [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Tow away time

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There are no conflicts of interest.


  [Figure 1]


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