Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Two. The urgent need for action

Chapter One. Chronic diseases: causes and health impact

Story of Sridhar Reddy: cancer

Rush hour: Sridhar Reddy, 52 years old, India

K. Sridhar Reddy was on the telephone to his wife when the photographer entered his hospital room. "I'm sorry, it's rush hour, I'll be with you in a minute," he excused himself. Sridhar's wife runs their restaurant while he's undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Chennai Cancer Institute. "It's my lifeline," the 52-year-old says, looking at his mobile phone. Sridhar had a first malignant tumour removed from his right cheek last year and a second one from his throat earlier this year. It's his third hospitalization so far. "Renowned oncologists work here, I'm paying a high price, but I know I'm in good hands," he says, before having a severe coughing fit.

Actually, his doctor doesn't sound as optimistic. Cancer has spread to Sridhar's lungs and liver. "His tobacco use and drinking habits are to blame," the oncologist says, and gives him a year to live at best. Sridhar has been chewing tobacco since his teenage years and drinking alcohol every day for more than 20 years. "Too much stress," Sridhar explains. Below the surface, Sridhar knows that the future doesn't look bright. He has been borrowing money to pay for his medical bills and now worries that he will never be able to repay the loans. Sadly, Sridhar died only a short time after he was interviewed.