I had heard of Mr S.M. Joshi alias Anna and met him on two or three social occasions. Anna was nearing eighty years. He was a great so socialist leader, famous and respected everywhere. Yet he was very simple, human, without any airs. One day he came to see me from Pune with a complaint in his low back for two weeks. An X-ray was taken which showed a lesion in his sacrum which needed further investigations, including biopsy. Biopsy showed that he was suffering from bone cancer (Myeloma). He accepted his physical condition with equanimity and agreed to take all conventional scientific treatment. He was referred to Tata Hospital for further treatment.

Our association continued. He used to visit me every now and then for follow-up and consultation. Even though my role in his treatment had become secondary, I had ample opportunities to observe him at close quarters. He never grumbled, was not worried, dejected or depressed. He was at peace with himself and with the world. He joked with me, told stories as before, had a hearty laugh and made us laugh as well. He never hid his complaint, yet never exaggerated it. He was one of the most ideal patients I ever had. He followed doctor's instructions to the letter and took medicines as prescribed without second thoughts or doubt.

He was extremely scientific in his approach towards his disease. He was always inquisitive and asked us as to how and why cancer develops, how it spreads, progresses or recurs, how medicines, radiation and chemotherapy work and how cure is effected. He asked for and read books about his disease. And all this was in an impersonal and scientific manner.

He had unknowingly made changes in his life. He was relaxed and yet remained active. He listened to music and got engrossed in it for hours together. He watched films and discussed the theme, characterisation and acting. He took interest in socio-political activities and attended social functions. He played with children.

In between, he developed severe reaction to chemotherapy and his condition grew serious. He was placed in Intensive Care Unit for over a month. I thought he would never make it. I was wrong. I have learnt that as a doctor, I should not make predictions about a patient's longevity. With inner strength and a commendable zest for life, he improved, became active again and resumed his changed lifestyle. He lived for another full year before finally succumbing to his illness. He passed away peacefully.

All through his illness, I watched him fight with the dreaded disease from close quarters. He was not indulging in bravado, but the way he lived his life with peace of mind, in tranquility and equanimity, taking keen interest in all aspects of life, never uttering a word of discontent about his disease or plight, enjoying every moment of life fully, really impressed me.

He never believed in God but had faith in humanity. While in Tata Hospital he took keen interest in the treatment given to other patients and strove hard to correct anything wrong done even inadvertently to patients, especially poor patients. After all, is that not what God wants us to do?

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.