Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Heroic Measures

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Heroic Measures

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Heroic measures

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published July 10:

The BC Cancer Agency for the North's chief oncologist, Dr. Suresh Katakkar, resigned in June amid concerns that he prescribed a non-approved treatment to a patient.

Katakkar came to Prince George in January 2011 and was the first medical oncologist to sign on to work at the BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North.

In an interview with the media in 2011, Katakkar said he left his lucrative practice in Tucson, Ariz. to make a difference and work in an environment that put patient welfare above profits.

"I love the people I'm working with and their devotion to the cause," Katakkar said at the time.

They are not the words of a man who would put a patient at risk needlessly or recklessly.

From her obituary in the Alaska Highway News in her hometown of Fort St. John, it's clear how important Holly Hill, the patient in question, was to those around her.

She was a granddaughter, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend, coworker and wife.

"Holly felt she'd done her job if she was able to make someone laugh or smile," the obituary said.

She was, "a quirky spirit who always had a song in her heart, and for her entire all-too-short life, [put] others first."

A happy, otherwise healthy 33-year-old, Hill deserved every chance at survival modern medicine could provide her. Katakkar appears to have believed that enough to risk his career, and the wrath of the BC Cancer Agency, by providing a treatment not approved by the agency.

Hill's final blog entry from March 3, just a month and eight days before her death, is a painful account of a brave young woman mortally ill with stomach cancer.

In the blog entry, Hill wrote about the course of treatment Katakkar was prescribing her.

"I also hadn't seen Dr. Katakkar in the flesh in two weeks, so I didn't know if he was planning at this point to continue on for a second round of the every two-week compromise chemo... or if he was planning on switching me to yet another new regime. (The only problems that come along with having a brilliant [and] exceptionally busy world-class oncologist - I'll take them any day of the week! …

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