Aesha Dutta, 30, Journalist
Amateur photographer. Tea-lover. Tech-handicap. Day-dreamer. Shameless foodie. Books and films. That’s 30-year-old Aesha Dutta, a journalist with a prominent national daily, describing herself on Twitter. These six descriptors are good enough to tell you who she is. But she could add two more: ‘fighter’ and ‘winner’. Dutta’s colorectal cancer is in remission. Hers is a unique story of personal triumph. Most oncologists tell their patients to keep going strong. In her case, it was Dutta who pushed her doctors into innovating and not giving up. Cancer is said to run in families when people inherit faulty genes. Dutta had a string of cases in her family. “Go ahead, it’s like talking about the weather for me,” she says, without the slightest hesitation. Her sister, a doctor, has been diagnosed with cancer. Her maternal grandfather had it. So did her mother. A genetic test identified the faulty gene that is known to cause various types of cancer. Dutta’s diagnosis was hereditary non-polypsal colorectal cancer. Her sister, a gynaecologist, has had endometrial or cancer of the uterus. Globally, there has been a lot of experimentation in cancer treatment. “In my experience, corporate hospitals are still very traditional in their approach and don’t experiment,” she says. Dutta’s cancer was pretty aggressive. A drug known as Avastin is approved to treat metastatic colorectal cancer and it is said to be a ‘tumour-starving’ medicine. But her doctors weren’t willing to experiment. She finally had her way when she convinced her oncologist to use it. The upshot of Dutta’s story is this: pushing the envelope may just be what the doctor ordered.