Oncologist receives praise for volunteerism and dedication to needy cancer patients served by We Care of Lake County.
When Dr. Borys Mascarenhas was chosen as Physician of the Year, he credited his late father, also a surgeon, for instilling his passion to treat people in dire need of medical care.
“It really was a huge surprise. I was humbled to receive this award, and very humbled that I was chosen,” says Borys, who was recognized at the recent Starry Night Gala for decades of service to We Care of Lake County, a charitable organization that provides medical services to those who can’t afford insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid.
Dr. Wendy Lavezzi, president of both We Care of Lake County and the Lake-Sumter Medical Society, announced at the event that Borys has treated the most charitable breast cancer cases, specifically those who are diagnosed late and with advanced cancer and do not have access to adequate medical help. The oncologist’s We Care patients are among the 900-plus people he treats annually.
“I’ve been very grateful to this country for giving me the opportunity to build up a successful practice, so this is my way of giving back, especially for people who have cancer. I really believe that nobody should not have adequate care because they can’t afford it,” says Borys, a native of India.
He’s pleased We Care patients receive free care and state-of-the-art procedures, and notes Florida Hospital Waterman is a partner. He’s affiliated with the Tavares hospital, which helps with surgery, imaging, and radiation treatments.
Borys was inspired to become a physician by his father, the late Dr. Gerry Mascarenhas, a cardiothoracic surgeon who trained at the University of Kentucky and went back to India to start thoracic surgery.
“Even though he had a busy practice, he was very charitable in a lot of his work. In one instance I remember clearly, we were at Delhi airport, where I come from, and Mother Teresa was there. One of her nuns told her who he was and she came over to us and said, ‘Doctor, I just want to thank you for all the good work you’ve done for my people,’” Borys says. “That was truly inspirational.”
Borys recalls he was about 9 when he knew he wanted to follow his father’s footsteps. His dad was able to see him graduate from St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, Karnataka, India, in 1990, but died by the time Borys graduated from his residency in surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Borys also completed his fellowship in oncology surgery from the University of Pittsburgh.
“My father lived his life in a way which inspired me,” Borys says. “He had a good personality and was extremely kind and compassionate to his patients and people in general. He didn’t do something for somebody to get anything back in return; a lot of his patients couldn’t pay him anything. He still treated them and treated them exactly the same he would treat somebody who could pay him. In India, he had a lot of patients who lived in rural areas, and they couldn’t give him cash, but they would give him whatever they had—rice that they grew in their fields or vegetables, as their way to say thank you and to show appreciation.”
Borys encourages more physicians to get involved in We Care.
“I think we have a duty to give back to society, especially to the less fortunate,” he says.
Laura Channell, surgical coordinator, says she feels privileged to have worked with Borys for the past eight years.
“I have seen his compassion, and I have seen willingness to go out of his way to do things for people. He treats everyone like they were his family,” she says.
The oncologist advises women to get mammograms and to monitor their breast with self-exams to be aware of any changes.
“A woman knows her breast the best,” Borys says. “When something is not right, seek help.”
He and his wife, Shruti, a dentist, have been married for 24 years and are the parents of son Maarek, a student at the University of Southern California, and daughter Anya, a sophomore at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando who aspires to become a surgeon like her father.
In his free time, Borys enjoys golf and is a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Yankees. If he could have dinner with anyone living or deceased, he says he would love to dine with the late Dr. Denton Cooley, an American heart and cardiothoracic surgeon famous for performing the first total artificial heart implant.
“My father watched him operate when he was in America,” Borys recalls, remembering his dad’s fascination. “He said it was like watching God.”