The changing scenes of life… Happy birthday to myself

Today is my birthday. I do not celebrate my birthday, and I usually do not write about my birthday. I have decided to write today because people are more likely to read what I write today and may listen to me. That may be the best ‘birthday present’ they can give me.

  1. On my theatre list today, I am going to perform a radical (Wertheim’s) hysterectomy + bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy + pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy for a woman with early cervical cancer.
    This sugery will take 3 to 4 hours.

  2. A little over a decade ago, I felt really proud to be able to perform this surgery. I was one of the less than 10 people who could perform this surgery well in Ghana.

  3. As I aged, I didn’t see any sense to be proud to perform these surgeries when nurses I had trained were screening for cervical precancer and treating them in 40 seconds (yes, in less than a minute!) so they would not develop into cancer.

  4. So these days, I feel sad and listless when I have to perform this surgery.
    It indicates a failed system.
    HPV vaccination for boys and girls, as well as screening to detect precancerous lesions of the cervix and treating these precancerous lesions will make these big surgeries unnecessary.

  5. In a couple of years, I will not be strong enough to stand for 3 to 4 hours to perform these surgeries.
    If our country does not get its priorities right and invest in cervical cancer prevention, there will be many such cancers.
    I am not too sure whether the country would have built enough human capacity to manage these cancers.

I have greyed quickly over the last year. As I wish myself a happy birthday, I just want to remind the country that a ‘loyal servant’ is gradually leaving the stage…
It is time to get replacement(s). Nobody can cheat nature.

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