Dr. V. Shanta executive chairman of Cancer Institute, Adyar, the doyen of oncology in India, a great teacher and the hope of millions of cancer patients, passed away on 19.01.21. Born on March 11, 1927, in a distinguished family of Nobel laureates CV Raman and S Chandrasekhar, she devoted herself to the field of oncology. She lived in a small house within hospital complex. She made cancer treatment affordable and accessible to poor cancer patients.
She was a source of inspiration for many health care professionals. She won several awards including Ramon Magsaysay award and Padma Vibhushan. An alumnus of Madras Medical College, she joined Cancer Institute founded by Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy – the first woman medical graduate of India and a legislator. Dr. Muthulakshmi’s son Dr. S. Krishnamurthy and Dr. V. Shanta played an exemplary role in nurturing cancer Institute, Adyar from a cottage hospital of 10 beds to a leading comprehensive cancer Institute of repute.
I feel proud to be postdoctoral student of cancer Institute (Adyar) under the able guidance of Dr. S. Krishnamurthy and Dr. V. Shanta; who were great teachers. Purpose of teaching is not to create student in his / her own image, but to develop student who can create his own image. They were ideal teachers in true sense. “Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse; encouraging them to create bridges of their own”. (Nikos Kazantzakis)
Dr. V. Shanta and Dr. S. Krishnamurthy were two oncology pillars of my life. They not only taught me how to and when to do surgery but the emphasis was when not to do surgery. She was strong, unrelenting, set the bar high so that her students could rise. She got the best out of us and planted the seeds in me for hunger to learn. Although I did my M.Ch, Surgical Oncology in 1992-94. I visited Cancer Institute (Adyar) very often. I always made it a point to meet her, and she will give me chocolates or some fruits as Prasadam.
“I believe that a great teacher is a great artist. Teaching is the greatest Art since the medium is the human mind and spirit” (John. Steinbeck).