In the Memory Of Hon.Dr.Sneha Latha
(Joint Medical Director of Jeevodaya who left us on 15.01.2003)
Sneha, she couldn't have been named more appropriately - the true friend that she was a friend who would laugh with you, a friend whom you shared secrets with and a friend whom you turned to in times of need. Sneha was all this and much more.
Sneha (Dr. Snehalatha) and I hailed from the same school (Rosary Matriculation school) and the same college (Madras Medical College) - she was about three my junior- but my close association with her came in my later years, when I joined her as a Colleague in the Dept. of Cancer Surgery at Govt. Royapettah hospital. Here were two lady surgeons (rare breed in itself) "manning" the Dept. much to the envy of our curious male colleagues. These four years will stand out as the most enjoyable and memorable period of my career. We were both on the same wavelength (perhaps because we were both Scorpios) and cannot remember having any disagreements or difference of opinion.
Sneha always stood out as a person of strong principles, well grounded convictions and a will to execute what she thought was right, without any fear. Beneath this strong exterior, however was a very soft women, revealed to only those who knew her closely; a women who loved her home and family dearly and who always had a thought for others, especially the needy and the suffering. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the travails of the Advanced Cancer Patients touched a chord in her and I was drawn in by her mannerism. We decided that an organized palliative care service was the need of the hour and I even remember her suggesting that, may be she should get the right of an ancestral property of theirs to start a hospice. However, it was at this juncture that I was introduced to the FCC sisters and the birth of Jeevoodaya is now a well known history. Sneha very readily agreed to join us and I remember the innumerable meetings and sessions we had to make our dream project come true, not to forget the several trips to the office of the Dean of the school of architecture to discuss the details of the building plan. We stood side by side watching the structure grow, a realization of our dreams and hopes. We had meanwhile launched ourselves into serious cancer screening and education programs.
Our careers parted ways in 1987. Sneha went on to specialize in cancer surgery and I am proud to say that she was the first lady of surgical Oncology at Govt. Royapettah hospital and has left an indelible mark there by successfully launching the MCH course in surgical On cology - a remarkable achievement indeed. By this time she had made a name for herself in the private sector too- but in spite of her extremely busy schedules, she always had time for Jeevodaya and all its activities whether it was patient care, conducting screening camps, organising fund raising or helping in conducting workshops.
On the personal front, she was a pillar of strength when I most needed her- when my sister had cancer, when both my mother and sister were bedridden with fractures and more recently when I myself was taken ill. To know that such a pillar has crumbled, leaves me with a hallow in my stomach and a void in my life.
I had thought that with my years of experience in the hospice, I had understood the philosophy of life and had come to terms with death- how foolish I was! An ordinary mortal like me can never come to terms with death especially if it means losing a close friend like you.
Yes, Dear Sneha, I Miss you, I always will...........