This story was updated on July 13, 2020 at 550 pm
“Women to be vigilant of breast cancer which is high in New Zealand”
Auckland, July 12, 2020
Leading a life without diseases is important but achieving a state of physical and mental wellbeing with a balance work and life, a leading medical expert has said.
Leading Gynaecologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon Dr Padmaja Koya said that modern lifestyle comes with its own challenges and high stress levels, but people who are able to set apart quality time with their families and friends as a part of their daily schedule, achieve true progress in their careers and happiness in their lives.
She was speaking at a Pinki Ribbon Afternoon Tea, hosted by Legal Associates Barristers & Solicitors Partner Ashima Singh in Newmarket on July 5.
Challenges and opportunities
Dr Koya recounted her own experience along her professional journey, she spoke of the tough competition at the entrance examination for medical studies in her native India, training in the United Kingdom and the subsequent move to New Zealand.
“During our initial years in the United Kingdom, my husband (leading Urologist and Surgeon Dr Madhusudan Koya) and I were trainees working in different cities. As well as progressing in our respective careers, we had to raise a new-born baby. Life was good but the need to strike a better balance between home and work encouraged us to move to New Zealand, which offered an excellent environment to raise a family,” she said.
Paying tributes to her mother, husband and other members of her family, she said that their continued support helped her to establish her own gynaecology practice in Auckland.
Education on breast cancer
The meeting aimed to enhance awareness of breast cancer among women.
Ashima said that in general, working women, especially those self-employed, do not look after their health and often neglect symptoms of breast cancer.
“Breast cancer is the third most common cancer in New Zealand and hence there is a pronounced need to encourage our women to have regular check-up. Health officials often say that early detection improves the chance of cure and hence I decided to organise this meeting,” she said.
“I believe that women tend to focus on building their family and business so much that they forget to take care of their health first. Considering that 80% of woman are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in New Zealand, there is greater need today than ever before, to educate our people in general and women in particular on this issue,” she said.
Ashima said that among the other speakers were Aspiring entrepreneur Bhavana Singh Chahal (owner of café, Robert Harris Roaster Franchise) and Kathryn Terry, a nurse from Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Foundation.
“Ms Chahal spoke on empowerment of women and how she overcame her struggle as a woman entrepreneur during the Covid-19 lockdown, while Ms Terry spoke on the ways and means of addressing breast cancer,” she said.
Ailments afflicting women
In an earlier article published in Indian Newslink, Dr Koya said that women maintaining appropriate body weight and following a good lifestyle would be less vulnerable to diseases and problems.
She said that diabetes, cholesterol, heart problems, cancers and problems related to the uterus are common among women of Indian origin and people from the Indian Sub-Continent region.
She said that the incidence of diabetes is high among women of Indian ethnicity.
“Diabetes, obesity, infertility and endometrial cancer are associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Women should therefore maintain a healthy bodyweight and lifestyle,” she said.
According to Dr Koya, the benefits include improved fertility, reduced risk of developing diabetes and endometrial cancer in later years.
She said that many women suffer such ailments as anaemia from heavy menstrual bleeding and painful menstruation. These are usually due to fibroids in the uterus, which are benign uterine lumps.
Dr Koya said that heart disease is common among people of Indian origin. It is more common among men but Indian women have a higher incidence than their European counterparts.
In view of the susceptibility to which women are exposed, they should undergo regular medical tests. These include cervical smears every three years and mammograms (especially women from the age of 45) every two years.
“However, they should consult their doctor if they have any problems with their periods or other abnormal bleeding or pain,” she said.
Dr Koya is renowned for her specialisation in Laparoscopy and Complex Laparoscopic surgery, which she performs regularly at various hospitals.
She said Laparoscopy is inspection of the abdominal contents through a keyhole with a camera, used traditionally to diagnose problems.
“Keyhole surgery has evolved in recent years, permitting us to perform major operations like removal of uterus, ovarian cysts and endometriosis through key holes, which is complex laparoscopic surgery. Sometimes, procedures can take as long as six hours. The pain would be relatively low with this process with faster recovery and quick return to full activities due to the very small size of the cuts,” she said.
Like most men of Indian origin, women from the Sub-Continent are either fatalistic or indifferent to health issues. Such callous attitude exposes many women to dangers of diseases, disorders and discomfort later in life.
Dr Koya attributes the general apathy to the busy lifestyle followed by women and placing their husbands, children and other members of the family on priority.
“They should realise that they can look after their families only if they are healthy and well. Sometimes, there are misconceptions about treatments, especially surgery. They can be reassured that techniques and technology have made it possible to treat several problems with minimum invasiveness,” she said.