Those were the days: Dr Shanta, whose fight against the Emperor of Maladies went way beyond healing

The Adyar Cancer Institute, which started functioning in 1954 from a thatched shed with 12 beds and grew into a centre of excellence for oncology, changed public perception of the disease as well as treatment modalities. It was all due to the perseverance of a few doctors. Dr Shanta was one of them.
An MBBS degree from Madras Medical College was not very popular for women in the 1940s. And though her family could boast of two Nobel laureates, it wasn’t an easy accomplishment for young Shanta. But her genes couldn’t be expected to stay silent. Her mother had desired to study nursing, but couldn’t due to early marriage and children in quick succession. Influenced by her and before her teens, Shanta had decided on her life course — to become a doctor. Her family was apprehensive if this delicate girl would be able to weather the exactitude of a medical profession.

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