Conquering Cancer With Pratichee Mohapatra

The discourse on awareness and survivorship in the erstwhile month of October brought to the fore critical missing links in our understanding of breast cancer. Pop singer Pratichee Mohapatra partners with to tell her story, what she believes everyone should know about breast cancer, and where technology plays a role.

hen it comes to the medical domain, new revelations shock even the biggest experts in super-specialty hospitals, challenging our existing knowledge of the human body and its many weaknesses. It’s amazing to think that with all the technological progress mankind has made — we have landed on the moon, we can change the genetic composition of future generations — we still manage to be hindered by new problems and discoveries that rear their ugly head out of seemingly nowhere, something made even more painfully obvious with the coronavirus pandemic. In this modern time of paradoxes, rising medical awareness has still not significantly improved the public consciousness on breast cancer.

long with showing us gaps in our grasp on epidemiology, the past two years are also a testament to how much we rely on the conventional healthcare system. It’s a system that places immense pressure on doctors, nurses, and other staff. As a result, there are human challenges in the process flow of diagnostics, which leads us to the most pivotal part of understanding breast cancer — misdiagnosis and early detection. Not only is every 1 in 4 diagnosis journey liable to error, but the misdiagnoses also cost up to 4 billion dollars in healthcare spending/reparations in the USA.

Misdiagnosis Hinders Early Detection

ratichee was made aware of her tumor in circumstances far from ideal. While regularly feeling depleted and exhausted of energy, she started having timely consultations and maintained a healthy lifestyle. When she was diagnosed, the tumor was large enough to displace some of her organs and put her on a journey of treatment and medication spanning 5 years. Pratichee has since demonstrated a unique resilience, and become a voice in numerous awareness campaigns on breast cancer.

per the World Health Organization, early detection of breast cancer improves the likelihood of surviving it to more than 90%. Misdiagnosis, however, delays the time between getting to know of the tumor and getting treatment. Unfortunately, even with routine check-ups, adherence to outdated practices and infrastructure puts unrealistic expectations on medical professionals. After being consistent with her appointments as well as her lifestyle, there are some hurdles in the diagnosis of breast cancer that Pratichee could emphasize on :

1 — Accessibility : mammograms can be expensive and complex for many patients.

2 — Awareness : an attitude is needed that promotes conversation and medical interventions.

3 — Personnel : there should be more trained personnel to make informed decisions in the process.

4 — Discomfort : radiation from instruments can often cause pain and anxiety in sensitive patients.

hen Pratichee reflects on her experiences with the entire process, she would state that relying just on the procedure, reports, diagnostics, and so on is insufficient :

What helped me was self-awareness, institutionalization, and questioning the process, which has limitations in pinpointing the actual problem, such as physical body symptoms that I could feel but the diagnostics process of practitioners, tests, and reports did not respond to it in the same way. As a result, it is critical that we insist on early detection, ask questions about diagnostics, and become more self-aware.

Technology Fills The Gap In Early Detection

he time taken in testing for breast cancer can all go to waste if errors continue to worsen the already broken diagnosis flow. The problem is severe enough that the expenditure on reparations can render the whole screening process and infrastructure cost-inefficient — which means that the resources spent in mammography could be more than the resources spent in diagnosing without a machine in the room! Some breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, however, could be the vital disruption that salvages the problem.

rtificial intelligence algorithms for mammogram interpretation have the potential to improve the efficacy of population breast cancer screening programs. Studies claiming that AI has equivalent or superior accuracy than radiologists frequently use ‘enriched’ datasets with a higher cancer frequency than in community screening — which means it’s a technology still in development. As the first algorithm of its kind to learn and make decisions from both imaging data and a comprehensive patient’s health history, IBM Watson’s model was able to correctly predict the development of breast cancer in 87 percent of the cases it analyzed, and was also able to correctly interpret 77 percent of non-cancerous cases. The impact of technology in improving results of breast cancer diagnosis were also shared by Pratichee :

The adoption of technology into humans has huge potential to address these issues. Advances in medical technology, particularly AI, in the field of breast cancer detection, whether in the early or later stages, plays a large role in eliminating human errors when dealing with complex issues.

uch developments will aid in the development of new tools, drugs, and ideas to combat expanding populations, as well as reach the most remote sections of countries where knowledge and access are important. More and more initiatives are coming up to improve the connection between patients and technology.

Moving On With Wisdom and Empathy

The two-time cancer survivor has often expressed how her prompt return to performing on-stage is credited to the support of her family and loved ones.

While I had the back of my family and loved ones who supported me through these tiring and demanding times, there were learnings as well. The biggest of them was restarting my life all over again and dealing with the emotional, psychological highs and lows. Being a creative artist, this period also gave me time to introspect and restart my passion and hobby for creative expression in art. Art is a great tool as a therapy as well. It helps in breaking down the thought process in a structured way and has a calming effect on a turbulent mind. Art Therapy and Music Therapy are two great healers for the patients diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

Artwork Made By Pratichee Mohapatra

The greatest lesson Pratichee wants to give to society, to new patients as well as families of the ones afflicted, is more than the technical aspects we discussed. Health literacy must become a part of family talks where concerns such as cancer and breast cancer may be discussed. This will aid in the removal of anxiety and serve as a preventative step in the early stages of detection, which may be the only method to save the majority of human lives because early discovery leads to mass prevention and treatment. It will eventually help us navigate the healthcare system, communicate effectively with healthcare providers, and make informed decisions about our health.

Storytelling brings to light the many narratives of strength and courage around us. is proud to partner with Pratichee Mohapatra and talk about the importance of an ecosystem where human stories merge with technology.

This story is also a part of the Musiculture magazine, December edition.



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