In 2013, cancer served my father with a death sentence. My father was a stoic man, and he took his diagnosis with the same equanimity and calm that he'd lived his whole life with. He merely wanted to die with his dignity intact, just as he had lived.
The doctor at the private cancer institute we ended up in — purportedly one of the best in India and among the best in the world – assured him of a good quality of life. He was wrong, not that he cared.
He has come in my mind to represent the debauched, materialistic mentality that drives privatised healthcare.
But as the end approached, we met Dr. Rajagopal who told us about palliative care, and how people did not have to die in pain with tubes strapped to every orifice. India's healthcare system has no space for palliative care; it's far more profitable to extend people's lives out for as long as is possible.
Dr. Rajagopal refused to accept payment; he told me he prefered people to donate, as most of his patients could not afford to pay in any case. Dr. Rajagopal was always happy to pick up the phone and listen to my concerns. He was never rude or short, but he never gave me false hope.
Thanks to Dr. Rajagopal, my father's last days were spent in bed, at home. Thanks to Dr. Rajagopal, he suffered not the humiliation of tubes and ventillators strapped to him. Thanks to Dr. Rajagopal, he was allowed to die as he lived; with dignity.
Dr. Rajagopal has been nominated for the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year award. Please cast your vote for him here, and consider donating to Pallium India.