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The Threatening Period of Corona- How Search for Cancer Appliances End on a Sweet Note By Nilakanta Siva

A true short tale by Nilakanta Siva, a nuclear scientist, prominent writer and a cancer warrior and survivor on How Search for Cancer Appliances ends on a sweet note during the crisis period-the threat posed by covid-19.

The author of the Prologue is
Dr T Prabhushankar, I.A.S.
Executive Director
Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board

Prologue:  An administrator recalls his role


This is a mini-story of cancer survivors getting help through Social Media a la shipwrecked crew sending an SOS in a floating glass bottle in the hope that it reaches someone and they would help. I am glad that I played a small part in this.

The following sequence of events makes it an interesting story, that is stranger than fiction, where a series of complete strangers came together to ensure some lives were saved.

1) A group of Cancer survivors in Thanjavur, mostly senior citizens, depending on their supply of urostomy bags from Chennai.

2) Corona lockdown is announced in Tamilnadu.

3) They try desperately to get it transported amidst the lockdown including a Chief Minister cell petition online seeking help for transporting the devices. They also WhatsApp a message to Greater Chennai Police after getting a declaration from the President of the IMA (Indian Medical Association) in Thanjavur. This is the surgical oncologist Dr MarimuthuSaravanamuthu.

4) With their efforts in vain, Mr Nilakanta Siva, a cancer survivor and an icon of hope posts a message on FB calling for help on this issue tagging a few of his friends in Chennai.

5) One of his friends Mr Keezharajakularaman Muthu Sampath Baalaji forwards it on FB tagging my mentor Kamaraj Kanakavel sir who is my friend on FB.

6) As it appears on my FB feed during a random glance, I verified the authenticity of the post by calling the contact number given and confirmed it to be genuine.

7) I then forwarded the request to my friend and Regional Deputy Commissioner Alby John who issued the transport pass after verification within hours

8 ) With the pass issued, a volunteer driver collects urostomy and colostomy devices and drives it to Thanjavur.

9) The devices reach the needy persons in Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tiruchi, Dindigul& other delta districts and their supplies for 3 months are secured.

Lessons for us in the Services:

1)Don’t ignore SOS posts on Social Media even if 9/10 are old or fake

2)Verify authenticity

3) Do your bit to help the cause


“Thaatha (grandfather)! Do men also leave a trail of blood?” screamed the teenager.

Absolutely thunderstruck, I looked behind and almost swooned. Yes, I had left behind a trail of blood from the car park, through the driveway and into the lift, out again and drenched the doormat.

As a student of Urology, / I had studied all about gross haematuria (blood in the urine), yet it was ghastly to behold. Most frightening was my white dhoti that now resembled the Kashi sadhus’ crimson

We knew what to do. With doctors in the family practising just a ten-minute drive away a referral to the urologist with a KUB (Kidney ureter and bladder) scan was easy. True, I can’t become a surgeon by merely reading books and knowing the diagnosis beforehand doesn’t make it easier when the patient is no one else to you.

I don’t intend to convert this into your Surgery notes. Suffice it to say that in the fluoroscopy suite under GA in the lithotomy position, my prostate was first mobilised, then so was the bladder and both of them cast into the biological wastes’ basket. Without a bladder, we now need to create plumbing to draw the urine out of the body. A bit of the terminal end of the intestine is connected to the ureter and pulled out through a hole in the stomach to the right and above the navel. The system is called the ileal conduit diversion and the portion jutting out of the abdomen is called the stoma.

What an excellent piece of bit and paste surgery. The statics will listen to you, but the unbridled fluid dynamics has a free fall at a fixed rate all through the day and the night. And this necessitates and collection and disposal device outside the body yet in contact with your stomach.

So remember these war heroes, more than those scalpel wielding doctors who only know how to cut, bag and basket. These cancer warriors with their medals stuck to their bellies with a fevicol type adhesive – the stomahesive paste – don’t call them cancer survivors. They didn’t run away from. the field of battle just to stay alive. They fought every inch forward through thick and thin, trial and error, down and up again umpteen times. We prefer to call the conquerors.

This author is into his seventh year since his bladder divorced him, with apart from his wife, the caregiver-in-chief, the urostomy bags as his constant companion.