Dr Ranjana Srivastava was educated in India, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. She graduated from Monash University with a first-class honours degree and several awards in medicine. Ranjana undertook her internship, residency and specialist training at various Melbourne hospitals.
In 2004 she won the prestigious Fulbright Award, which she completed at the University of Chicago. She was admitted as a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2005 and started practicing oncology in the public hospital system.
Ranjana’s writing has been published worldwide, including in Time magazine and The Week, and in medical journals The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association and Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care Management. In 2008 her story ‘Ode to a Patient’ won the Cancer Council Victoria Arts Award for outstanding writing.
Ranjana’s inaugural Melbourne Magazine column was featured in the Best Australian Science Writing of 2012.
Ranjana lives in Melbourne with her husband and three young children.
NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2011, Non-Fiction Shortlist Commendation
Fatal cancer is a dangerous subject, and authors who tackle this issue run a very high risk of sliding into the glibness of avoidance or the insult of self-help. Srivastava’s great achievement is that her tone is exemplary, distinguished by lack of sentimentality and elegant, almost translucent prose. In her work as an oncologist, Srivastava describes her dealings with terminally ill cancer patients in a series of stories that never slip into clinical case studies. Not all the patients and their relatives are heroic: quietly and compassionately Srivastava describes real people faced with terrifying situations and impossible choices. Nor does she overemphasise her own role or expertise. The placement of the stories is particularly impressive, and the work has a satisfying rhythm and flow.
This book deals with much more than illness. It speaks about the meaning of a good life and a good death, the ethics of assisted suicide, the doctor’s role as counsellor versus technician and, in one chilling chapter, the treatment of desperately ill refugees. Occasionally the author pauses to ask ‘what can we learn from this’ and given the subject such a question is appropriate.
Australian Human Rights Commission Literature Prize 2013 Commendation
This powerful book explores the human rights issues concerning ageing, health, medicine and end-of-life care. With dignity placed at the centre of Dr Srivastava’s argument she sensitively explains some of the failures in communication between medical professionals, patients and the families of patients. Her use of the case-study of 90-year-old Mrs. Johnson grounds the content to make the book accessible to the reader and their lives. Seemingly simple on the surface, it deftly explores many of the complex moral dilemmas and ambiguities faced by doctors, patients and their families. The panel viewed the book as a brave insight into modern medicine and an outstanding commitment to human rights from the medical profession. In this way, the book was seen to be advancing an important social issue as a human rights issue.