Swastava Cancer Care Started By Cancer Survivors Provides Free Second Opinion By Eminent Doctors

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Cancer is a major and serious illness. When someone has cancer, it not only affects him/her but also his/her family, as the family sees the loved one suffer.Some cancer survivors and their families have come together through Swastava Cancer Care in Hyderabad, to spread the message that cancer is preventable and curable with timely diagnosis. Swastava comes from the words – Swasth i.e. health and vastava i.e. reality. The name literally means that health is a reality.

How many times have we felt like the doctor or the health care provider is possibly not understanding ‘me or my problem’? Or we get a feeling that perhaps I am not sure and would like a second opinion. In an illness like cancer, second opinion becomes crucial as it either validates the primary health care provider or throws out other viable treatment options. 

Swastava Cancer Care

Swastava Cancer Care also helps people seeking guidance regarding their treatment by helping them get a second opinion from their panel of doctors. Anyone residing anywhere in India can avail this service free of charge.

The story of how the principle founding members got together to form Swastava Cancer Care is very bitter sweet. Dr Vasudev Chaturvedi lost his wife to ovarian cancer and he himself is a stage IIIB Colon cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2016. 

Speaking about his experience he says, “Both my wife and I got cancers at different times in our life but we could lead near normal lives and have added years to our lives. It has left a huge hole in our savings. It made me  think about the poor people and the innocent villagers. They do not have access to facilities or the means to fight this illness.” 

Having worked in senior management positions for many years and having been involved with the state government machinery for several years, he left his position at Basavatkaram Indo American Cancer hospital to establish Swastava Cancer Care which is a non-profit organisation. 

He strongly believes that timely diagnosis of the patient and awareness in the patient can help the patient lead a near normal life. He laments the lack of foresight in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government’s scheme of Rajeev Arogya Shree (which has now been renamed to YSR Arogya Bharosa in Andhra and Aarogya shree in Telangana) as it does not include diagnosis, at the same time pointing out that our villages or even district hospitals do not have any facilities to diagnose cancer at all. Thus, he along with some like minded cancer survivors or their close ones have come together to create awareness amongst children and youth, especially children and youngsters on the risk of cervical and breast cancer. They also spread awareness about oral cancer caused by excess tobacco usage. 

Swastava Cancer Care was registered as a society in 2017. It has essentially divided their mission into 2 major objectives at present:

  • Create awareness amongst youngsters in their formative years about the ill effects of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, specifically the oral cancer it can cause.
  • Cater to the health of the girls and women of the family as they are vital.This flagship program is called “REACH THEM YOUNG”.They do this through:
    • separate awareness sessions for girls in their formative years about a) physical hygiene, b)menstrual hygiene, c)dangers of Human papillomavirus (HPV) and the need to get vaccination to prevent cervical cancer.
    • conducting screening camps for women to screen them for any kind of cancer. 

Dr Vasudev and his team visit at least 10-15 schools every month. He says, “I start by sharing my story and ask them if they can believe that I am a cancer survivor. They are usually awestruck and say that I am lying. I openly share my story inductively and then ease them into the session.”

Swastava Cancer Care

The awareness camps for youngsters first happen for all the students from the classes 8, 9 and 10. Then later girls are segregated and told about physical, menstrual and sexual hygiene. They are also told about HPV* and vaccination against it which can cause cervical cancer. All the children are made to take a pledge to safeguard themselves against the use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and to do everything possible to stay healthy.

Apart from this, girls usually write a letter to the Prime minister requesting him to lower the cost of cervical cancer vaccination from Rs. 6000/- to safeguard against cervical cancer. 10,000 such letters have been written and more are written during the awareness camps, hoping someday someone might take note of these letters. They give the children brochures which they can refer to, from time to time. 

Swastava Cancer Care

While they face considerable challenges in raising money for these camps, the biggest problem they face is to fight the fear and taboo amongst women. In many cases when an attempt is being made to take pap smears* from the cervix of women, they panic and either refuse or get violent in some cases, after having consented to the procedure. 

(* Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina. Detecting cervical cancer early with a Pap smear gives you a greater chance at a cure. :

In spite of that, they have thus far conducted  awareness camps for over 15,000 youth which includes NCC cadets, school children and students in particular. They have also conducted awareness camps and screening camps in 11 villages impacting 550 women. 

Cost of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis is extremely prohibitive and thus it is the state’s responsibility to help its citizens get a health care plan that can help get diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment (at least subsidising to an extent). Just as the government has done massive awareness programs for polio vaccines, it should do awareness drives for vaccination against the HPV virus which can prevent cervical cancer in women. 

We can do our best by telling our female friends, relatives, family members to get vaccination against HPV and to get annual checks periodically. We can also educate our domestic helpers as well. A lady’s health is very important for the wellbeing of the family. It’s important cannot be underscored enough.

This mission by Swastava Cancer Care to begin their work by focussing on a girl and a woman’s health highlights the sensitive and crucial mission this non profit has taken up. Wishing them the best in their mission and hoping they reach a massive scale which get’s the government to respond adequately as well.

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but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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