The Poor Man’s Doctor
Prevention is an essential part of our mission. Through public education and clinical preventive services, we strive to reduce the incidence of cancer and serve people who may never be our patients.Dr Swapnil Mane
Even as an 8-year-old, Dr Swapnil Mane had in him empathy and compassion for a fellow human being’s suffering. So it’s not surprising that he chose this noble profession to do what he could to alleviate the pain of others. What makes Dr Mane special is that he swore he would treat poor patients for free. Seeing one of his close neighbors, whom he fondly called Godse Kaka, suffer extensively due to cancer, the innocent mind of the 8-year-old Mane was deeply affected. This feeling was worsened when his uncle lost his battle to lung cancer as he could not afford the treatment. The impact of such experiences gave him the resolve to decide what he wanted to do in his life. He remembers promising his mother that he would be a doctor who would treat his patients for free. As Founder of the Mane Medical Foundation and Research Centre that has been a beacon of hope for numerous cancer patients in more than 50 villages in the state of Maharashtra, Dr Mane kept his promise to his mother.
Dr. Mane graduated from the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, and later joined the hospital as a fellow in gynecological oncology. The high rate of cancer in India, lack of awareness and proper infrastructure in the rural community were the primary reasons that drew him into this specialization. Villagers had to go to the metropolis for consultation and treatment. Most often, they were too poor even to make the journey. During his fellowship days, Dr. Mane recalls giving patient money, arranging an NGO to sponsor his consultation fee and money to go back home. That was when he decided to practice in a village rather than in a metropolis like Mumbai. His commitment towards his profession, his patients and his charity to the poor inspired many other like-minded doctors to join him in his noble cause and this collective initiative resulted in the formation of Dr. Mane Foundation and Research center on May 1, 2011.
The primary aim of starting such a national, social, secular NGO was to provide cancer care and support to those who could not afford it.“Prevention is an essential part of our mission. Through public education, clinical preventive services, and research, we strive to reduce the incidence of cancer and serve people who may never be our patients,” says Dr. Mane. A constant source of support and encouragement, his wife Dr. Sonali is a perfect consort professionally and personally. “His dedication and selfless work motivated me to join him in this noble journey,” she says. She recalls a story that has stayed with her all these years.
“I still remember one of our cancer detection camps at Wambori,” she says. “A lady was trying to come forward for a checkup. But she reeked of stench so bad that people did not let her come near the camp. When we came to know about her, we checked her immediately and found out that there was pus secretion from her vagina that had been going on for months. Due to financial constraints, she never went to a doctor all these years. We operated on her on a priority basis and removed her uterus, which was affected by fourth stage cancer. She visits us regularly now and keeps thanking us on each visit. Gratitude cannot match any amount of money in the world.” Dr. Mane says Dr. Prakash Amte, doctor and social worker from Maharashtra who has dedicated his entire life to the people of tribal areas, is his greatest inspiration.
“Witnessing the trauma and suffering of my patients have made me stronger and more empathetic,” says Dr. Mane. He is confident that the changes in the medical field over the years will make all forms of cancer curable especially because the world is heading into personalized cancer treatment. His sincere advice and wish for young oncologists is that they dedicate their selves to the physical and social betterment of multitudes of our country’s underprivileged
KNOW YOUR DOCTOR
Dr. Swapnil Mane
Specialized in Gynaecological Oncology and Surgery
- Works at the Dr. Mane Medical Foundation and Research Centre, which he founded
- Has helped thousands of poor cancer patients in rural Maharastra