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Cancer Patients See No Relief From State Care

Published: December 19, 2012 (Issue # 1740)



  • Maria Gritsai sitting on a hospital bed while making an appeal for donations in a YouTube video posted in September.
    Photo: COURTESY OF YEVGENY GRITSAI

  • Maria Gritsai in an undated photograph taken before she was hospitalized.
    Photo: COURTESY OF YEVGENY GRITSAI

MOSCOW When Maria Gritsai was diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer, she didnt spend much time grieving. She knew she had toact fast.

With thesupport ofher husband andson, she turned tothe Blokhin Cancer Center, one ofRussias best oncology hospitals, where thediagnosis was confirmed. Doctors there also gave her some devastating news: Atsuch anadvanced stage, her cancer was incurable.

But she was determined tofight. She began aseries oftreatments, including home chemotherapy sessions that came with harsh side effects, andbought acostly medicine adoctor said she needed tostay alive that would have taken four months toget fromthe public health care system.

Thechemotherapy diminished thetumor, but Russian doctors said they could do nothing more after thesessions were completed.

After her chemotherapy treatments, Gritsai was officially sent off forpain treatment andto live out therest of[her] days, she wrote ina blog entry.

For now, they have given up onme inRussia, she wrote.

She collected donations online andsought treatment inGermany, where doctors said she may have been misdiagnosed because not enough examinations had been done. They said she could have been operated onand cured if her doctors hadnt missed theearly stages ofthe disease.

Gritsai, 35, died atthe Grosshadern Clinic inMunich onOct. 22 but apparently not fromcancer. Doctors told her husband, Yevgeny, that she had been poisoned bythe chemotherapy drugs Cisplatin andXeloda, which are also used inGermany but are accompanied bysupportive drug therapy todiminish harmful side effects andaid recovery.

Gritsais case highlights many ofthe faults with cancer treatment inRussias state health care system, which doctors say suffers fromproblematic legislation, excessive bureaucracy anda lack offinancing.

Gritsais experience, which she described online andin aninterview with TheSt. Petersburg Times inlate September, included lying sick onthe floor ofthe Blokhin center forhours totake ablood test, meetings with indifferent doctors andattempts toperform minor surgery with no anesthetic.

After Gritsai received thegrim diagnosis fromthe Blokhin Center, her husband found adoctor atthe clinic who prescribed chemotherapy treatments forMaria at his own risk. Thetreatments were performed atGritsais home bya local doctor, she said ather home inChekhov, aMoscow region town 60 kilometers south ofthe capital.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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