Awareness Walk at NIT-K

by Sampada Deshpande

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Orientation of the volunteers

The Oral Cancer Awareness Drive NITK 2012 took place on the 20th of October as a result of the fruitful collaboration of our team in Manipal (led by Dr. Anirudha Agnihotry) and the Rotaract Chapter of NIT Surathkal. We communicated with Harold Benson, President of the Rotaract Chapter, NITK and planned the whole event of Awareness Walk 2012, an experience that will forever stay in our hearts.

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Volunteers with pamphlets

As part of this Drive, we went to different places around their beautiful 250 acre campus and distributed pamphlets pertaining information about Oral Cancer. We educated students, mess workers and pedestrians about the different facets to this disease and made it easier for them to understand the diagnosis and treatment procedures. The thirteen of us distributed nearly 700 pamphlets in the two hours that we spent there.

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Having a dialogue with people

My most memorable moment was when we came across a young man with an incessant pan chewing habit, who informed us about bleeding from his mouth while eating and brushing. He caught up to us after having read our pamphlet carefully and nervously asked if he had cancer. We informed him about the various causes for oral cancer and that bleeding might suggest it but does not confirm it and advised him to get a check-up at the nearest health facility as soon as possible. One of the volunteers relieved him greatly by telling him that a symptom of cancer if detected early, can almost always lead to an early diagnosis and an effective treatment. He thanked us for our help and assured us of making a visit to the doctor/dentist immediately. It was a good experience and I felt great by helping people.Image

The team

Sigmund Freud

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by Sampada Deshpande

Everybody knows Dr. Sigmund Freud but a very few know that he died of oral cancer. Being psychology’s most famous figure also led him to become one of the most influential and controversial personalities of the twentieth century. Freud’s theories have helped shape our views of seeing things. While his work continues to be the subject of considerable debate, his impact on fellow psychologists and culture remains undeniable. Freud’s opinions have suffused intellectual thought and popular culture to such a great extent that in 1939 W. H. Auden wrote, in a poem dedicated to him: “to us he is no more a person / now but a whole climate of opinion / under whom we conduct our different lives”.

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However, even the great thinker behind ‘Id, Ego and Super Ego’ and master of psychoanalysis could not survive the battle against oral cancer and its deadly consequences. Freud, initially started cigarette smoking at the early age of 24 and felt he could exercise self-control over the number of times he would smoke per day. However, as he grew older, he became a chain cigar smoker and by the year 1923, developed a pre-cancerous white patch (also known as leukoplakia) in his mouth. He tried to keep this finding a secret for a few years until the time he could no longer do so. By 1939, the patch has turned into a malignant (cancerous) growth in his mouth and would cause him severe pain. Coupled with his advancing age, the pain from the now inoperable growth had become unbearable for him. This was when Freud turned to his friend and surgeon Marc Schur, reminding him what they had previously discussed about the terminal stages of his illness: “Schur, you remember our ‘contract’ not to leave me in the lurch when the time had come. Now it is nothing but torture and makes no sense.” When Schur replied that he had not forgotten, Freud said, “I thank you,” and then “Talk it over with Anna, and if she thinks it’s right, then make an end of it.” Anna Freud wanted to postpone her father’s death, but Schur convinced her it was pointless to keep him alive, and on 21 and 22 September administered doses of morphine that resulted in Freud’s death on 23 September 1939.

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This is the story of Freud, who being from the medical fraternity and being so scientific at the same time ignored his condition. Let us learn from this and be not ignorant with ourselves. Oral Cancer claims countless lives every year. The biggest cause for death is delay in seeking consultation and appropriate treatment. Educating yourself about its causes and going for regular screenings is the BEST way of prevention.