To keep the breasts or save life? We ask - Why not Both?

27 Oct, 2022


- Story of Panna Parikh, Breast Cancer Winner

A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming—there are no two ways about it. Despite this misery thrown at her, 67-year-old Panna Parikh was confident and hopeful because she knew that the specialists at HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad, stood by her.

When a lump was found in her left breast, she neither got scared nor sat on it. Panna vowed to never let this disease take control of her body and mind. Her thoughts were clear, and she knew what she needed—the best treatment for her condition. This sense of clarity, confidence, and support from her family played a significant role in her winning over breast cancer while preserving both her life and her organ.

Visiting HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad

Sometime in April 2021, Panna felt a lump in her left breast. Immediately, she visited HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad, and consulted Dr. Kalpana Kothari, Chief of Gynaec Oncology, Senior Consultant - Robotic Surgery & HIPEC. Upon primary assessment, the doctor suggested Panna consult Dr. D.G Vijay, Consultant - Surgical Oncology and Director - HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad

Dr. Vijay thoroughly went through her case and recommended a few more tests. These tests confirmed the diagnosis of breast cancer. Upon going through the reports in detail, she was asked to undergo surgery, which would then be followed by other treatments.

Initially, she was a little sceptical about the suggested treatment plan as she thought it would involve the removal of her breast. When she voiced her concerns, Dr. Vijay told her about the innovative surgical approach that he was employing to keep her breast intact. 

There Was No Need to Lose the Breast or the Hair

According to doctors, breast conservation surgery is a unique breast cancer surgery approach that removes only the tumour and not the entire breast. Since the tumour was small and detected in its early stage, the doctor considered performing breast conservation surgery in Panna’s case. 

After her surgery, she met Dr. Manasi Shah, consultant – medical oncology, who also has vast experience in breast oncology. Under her supervision, Panna underwent chemotherapy and targeted therapy (anti her2 neu therapy). She also underwent radiation therapy. These treatments were recommended to enhance the overall effectiveness of the treatment administered to Panna. Also, multimodal treatments play a pivotal role in reducing the risk of recurrence. 

Systemic therapies like chemotherapy and targeted therapy can cause hair loss, hair thinning, and changes in the texture of the hair. However, Panna did not have to experience any of them as she wore a cool cap during her infusion upon Dr. Manasi Shah’s advice.

For those wondering what a cool cap is, it is a unique approach used to prevent hair loss in patients undergoing systemic therapies. A cool cap prevents hair loss by reducing blood flow to the patient’s scalp.

Panna successfully completed her treatment course, and the best part is—she did not lose her breast, nor did she lose her hair. She is extremely thankful to the doctors and caretakers who were extremely kind, understanding, and supportive throughout her treatment at HCG.

Parting Message

From thinking cancer meant the end of life to bravely winning over cancer, Ms. Panna has come a long way.

From the beginning, she did everything right. She did not ignore the presence of a lump, she immediately met the right specialist and made sure she received her treatment at the right time. These positively impacted her recovery and quality of life; today, she has gone back to living a normal life.

The takeaway from her story is to be mindful of the different signs and symptoms of breast cancer and see a doctor immediately when you think something is not normal – these support timely treatment and patients will have better survival chances after the treatment, along with an excellent quality of life.

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