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Precilla Veigas DSouza,an Indian origin cancer patient receives her PhD, Source- Screenshot from youtube

New Delhi, May 18, 2017- Allen Saunders once said, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” The quote, though an age old, keeps its significance till date. Life doesn’t actually happens as we plan it to be. It consists of several surprises and sometimes disappointments too.

The same happened with Precilla Veigas Dsouza, who was diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer when she was halfway through her PhD in medical science at the University of Toronto.


The doctor had told Dsouza that she could survive at best for a year if aided by chemotherapy. Dsouza accepted the challenge posed by life and fought this fatal disease to complete her PhD in the next six weeks. Dsouza had already completed 80% of her dissertation work when she was diagnosed with the disease.

The University held a special convocation for her on May 9, 2017, a month before their usual June celebrations, to mark her achievement, showing a rare gesture.

In an open letter published in Hindustan Times, Veigas said,”I fear I may not survive another four weeks to see my June convocation. “ The 45 year old woman who has been a gifted student had always nurtured the dream of doing a PhD which could not be fulfilled in the earlier years of her life due to the trying circumstances.

Born in Karnataka, she moved to Dubai in 1997 after getting married but her dream followed her everywhere. She wrote in the letter “Even though my husband was doing well in his career, I was not happy. I was haunted by a longing to fulfill my dream of doing a PhD.”

Her dreams began to take shape when they shifted to Canada in 2003. She was given the permission to work on a pilot programme and got a job volunteering in a reputed hospital in 2005after which she also got a volunteer role in a clinical research organisation.

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She was also offered a full time job but she turned it down to pursue further education in clinical research. Dsouza applied both at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, as well as at Humber College in Toronto to get two post-graduate certificates in clinical research.

Her gruelling hard work soon paid off as she became coordinator of a groundbreaking clinical study, involving more than 74 hospitals, and that required collecting data on cardiac arrest and trauma patients, who were in the danger of bleeding to death. Her fascinating work soon convinced Dr Sandro Rizoli, who would later be her supervisor, to accept her as a PhD candidate in 2012 at the Faculty of Medicine in University of Toronto.

However, she was struck by tragedy in 2015 when she was diagnosed with cancer. Dsouza is fighting the disease very bravely and now when she has received her coveted degree, her joy knows no bounds.

Several people came to show their support and pride towards Dsouza. Her extended family from Toronto, India and the US were there so was her immediate family. Jadyn, her 15 year old daughter stood by her like a rock. In her one of her interviews, Veigas acknowledged the great strength she derives from her family. Veigas said, “I’ve always had very strong support.”

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Her work has helped treating trauma patients by matching them to the most effective blood products for transfusion at St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto.
She also wrote, “I am also so happy to leave a legacy for my daughter, Jadyn, to find the strength to achieve her own life goals,”
Veigas hopes to become inspiration for others and encourages everyone to follow their dreams.

– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6


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