About the Author: Dr Gayatri Palat is a Professor, Department of Palliative Medicine, MNJ Institute of Oncology and RCC, Hyderabad.
Dr Palat is also a Member, EC Committee, Pain Relief and Palliative care society, Hyderabad; a Consultant, Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration, Canada; and a Board Member, ICPCN.
As the ‘International Day of Women in Multilateralism’ celebrates the role played by women in the promotion of human rights, peace and sustainable development within the multilateral system, I salute the women in the world of palliative care who are increasingly holding key decision-making positions to shape and implement the multilateral agendas in palliative care. Each of you bring in your natural ability to nurture and build relationship to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, including patients, families, health care professionals, administrative staff, insurers and government agencies which are so essential for the design and delivery of successful multilateral initiatives in palliative care. Each of you is a source of inspiration for all those who wish to participate in this change.
As a palliative care physician heading the palliative care program in a tertiary Government Cancer Hospital and also working as a volunteer in one of the largest NGO which provides palliative care through hospice and home care in Hyderabad, I am faced with multidimensional tasks on a daily basis. To further elaborate this, my role involves me having to coordinate with the government machinery on one hand, while on the other hand it involves an array of things such as taking care of my terminally ill patients and their caregivers, dealing with multidisciplinary team dynamics where many members are on the verge of burn out, interacting with volunteers, donors and sponsors (both nationally and internationally), who have their own needs and priorities and balancing it all by devoting time to my family and personal matters. Multilateralism for me, is a reality which I face not only on a daily basis, but on an hourly basis. No set of principles, yardstick or parameters are common in dealing with each of the above situations.
Pressure do build up. I have compromised my health in recent times. I am now learning to deal with these challenges by compartmentalising my work and personal life. I have started scheduling my day offs well. My trips to wild life sanctuaries, mountains and beaches have greatly helped me to rejuvenate my energy.
Most of my women colleagues come to work despite all odds; overcoming overwhelming social, family and economic challenges and responsibilities. They do this through sheer determination and reliance. Dealing with death and dying, and then having to balance work and home is not easy; yet we do this because we feel so passionate about our work and we want to help our patients.
I urge each of you to be gentle with yourself and invest in yourself. Look after your health. Eat well, take time off for yourself, indulge in things you like doing. Take vacations and allow yourself to be rejuvenated. By taking care of your health and well-being, you can spread wellness and positivity around you, to your loved ones and family.