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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. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russias most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the citys reputation as the countrys culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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