GP who survived cancer writes book for hospital patients

A retired GP who organised his own wake seven years ago after he was told he had terminal cancer has published a book to help patients when they are in hospital.

Dr Rami Seth: I organised my own wake
Dr Rami Seth: I organised my own wake

Dr Rami Seth, 70, was lying in a hospital bed waiting to have tumours removed from his liver and inferior vena cava when he thought of writing a book.

‘I was lying there thinking what I am in danger of is not the operation, the anaesthetic or the cancer, but what is likely to kill me is DVT, Clostridium difficile, MRSA, Escherichia coli, a urinary tract infection or dehydration’, he said.

Dr Seth's book: Going into Hospital?‘Most patients don’t know what the risks are when they are in hospital. These things are preventable and a lot of former colleagues who have read the book said it is common sense, which we forget.’

The 34-page book called Going Into Hospital? Useful tips and information for all patients, published on 1 June, advises patients to try simple movements while lying in bed to avoid DVT, to keep hydrated and not to allow their personal hygiene levels to drop.

Dr Seth who was an awarded an MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for services to the Rotary International organisation and the community in Nottinghamshire, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004. He had a kidney removed, but the cancer had already spread to his liver and his inferior vena cava.

The grandfather-of-four was told that the cancer had spread to four parts of his liver and the tumours were too big to operate on. He was sent to a liver unit at a different hospital for a second opinion but they also said it was inoperable.

‘I went back home and planted 200 daffodil bulbs and was determined to see them bloom again the following spring. I went to India to say goodbye to my father who was then 89 - he is now 96 - and I went back and organised a party.’

Dr Seth invited 200 friends and family to a gathering at City Hospital in Nottingham and told them he had only a few weeks to live. He told them: ‘Some of you will come to my funeral and say nice things about me and I want to hear them myself.’ Dr Seth said: ‘It was an emotional evening. I had organised my wake.’

It was at this stage that he was offered treatment with the biological therapy interferon alpha, which would be injected three times a week into his abdomen. He said: ‘I was asked by a doctor in the oncology department if I would like to try an old-fashioned medicine that has awful side effects and I thought, "I have nothing to lose", so I did.

'I had terrible side effects with terrible fatigue for two days after I took it. I had it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday which meant that I had a reasonable Sunday. But fortunately the medication worked for me and my cancer shrank.’

In 2006, he underwent a seven-hour operation to remove tumours from his liver and inferior vena cava. He was cancer-free for three years before he had keyhole surgery to remove a tumour from his right lung and the following year he had another tumour removed from his left lung.

‘I have been completely cancer and medication-free since. And I have been travelling the world for the last three years as a lecturer on a cruise liner to the Arctic, the Caribbean, Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean’, he said.

The topics he covers range from how to protect yourself as a patient in hospital, the idiosyncrasies of the English language, life as an immigrant, how laughter is the best medicine and the secrets of happy marriage.

Dr Seth, who moved from New Delhi to England in 1966, met his wife, Jennifer Seth, 43 years ago in the Accident and emergency department of Warwick hospital where they both worked.

  • Going Into Hospital? Useful tips and information for all patients is published by Troubador and is available from priced £4.50.

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