Rachana Shah hopes to create breast cancer awareness through her centre
Sometime last year, as Rachana Shah stood amidst the clouds, on the mountains of Leh-Ladakh, 18,000 feet above the ground, one of the thoughts that flashed through her mind was of how she had come so far. It was a tough climb to the summit, says Rachana, in more ways than one. But she has never been one to give up.
In India, where Rachana completed her BHMS (bachelor of homeopathic medicine science and surgery) from North Gujarat University—before she and her husband decided to move to Australia—she had to tutor students to cover her own tuition costs. “While I was year 12, I tutored year 10 students at a private coaching centre. Then after I got into college for medicine, I started coaching year 12 students, then first year and second year students to cover my expenses. It was the only way I could finish college,” says Rachana.
In 2006, she landed in Sydney with medical training visa, which grants those overseas qualified medical graduates to gain specialist qualifications and training in required field.
“I always wanted to pursue something in the field of breast imaging as my mother had passed away from breast cancer in 1999. After completing my post graduation in medical ultrasound from RMIT in 2007 I was fortunate enough to work in the desired industry specialising in breast imaging and breast cancer awareness in the community.”
All that inspiration comes to an extra level in 2013 when dreaming big for the community came to execution. Wyndham ultrasound in Tarneit (wyndhamultrasound.com) was established by US and in five years multiplied our model not only to the community of Tarneit but Geelong, Melton, Cranbourne, Manor Lakes, Bannockburn, and south east areas as well. In 2013, Rachana set up a clinic, with state of the art ultrasound machines capable of 3D and 4D ultrasound elastography to detect breast cancers as well as equipment that is used in early detection of down syndromes in pregnancy.
There were several challenges, says Rachana, in setting up an ultrasound practice. But she laboured on. “There were several challenges in setting up an ultrasound practice in an area where there were 5 to 6 imaging clinics present. I was the one who introduced the concept of bulk billing which none of the clinics were doing. We had threats from other companies making dodgy phone calls trying to find out our bookings. There were days when we had ‘fake’ patients trying to upset things at the clinic by making a scene and leaving negative comments about us on social media. I was a new migrant and it was a hard beginning. But we faced it all head on.”
The challenges continue. “Reduced government funding makes it difficult for small businesses like ours, which rely on the funding so we can provide a no-charge ultrasound, or bulk billing as it is called,” she says.
“Since last year we have been forced to start charging a minimal amount to cover the out-of-pocket cost to patients for their ultrasound.”
But challenges apart, Rachana, a trained Bharatnatyam dancer, says she loves the multiculturalism and the diversity of her new home. “Australia is all about beautiful untouched natural beauty. For a solo traveller like me, I enjoy the beautiful Great Ocean Road the Grampians, the sandy beaches of Gold Coast and the beautiful nightlife of Sydney. Australia is a perfect combination of food, dance and travel,” says Rachana, who pursues Bollywood dancing at the Shiamak Davar Institute with her twin boys in tow.
An avid traveller, Rachana says she her favourite spot in Australia is Diamond Bay Beach in Sorrento.
Back in India, the places that lure her back are the Indo-Pak border, where she loves spending time with the locals, Kashmir—where she even did snow scootering at 14,000 feet at midnight on New Year’s Eve to support local businesses, and of course Leh-Ladakh. Trips that allow to reach for the sky, with her feet planted firmly on the ground.