Thursday, February 25, 2010

Life is just like a Sudoku-----Simple, Medium, and Hard sometimes!!

It was waiting at her door step, for long days, came silently, without any sign of danger...without any hesitation, in an area of Tilak Nagar, where Smt. Seema Narang*, an ordinary housewife lived with her husband and her 11 year old daughter. But, when time to reveal its face, it just revealed the canopy and that poor lady came to know that it was spreading in her body, the killer disease, cancer.....cervical.

In the middle of 2009, we got a call from Lekha teacher, who later on became one of our ardent volunteers, informing about smt. Narang. Teacher was, of course her next door neighbour.......

Our first visit:- It was on 20th June 09. A hot Sunday morning......we a group of 4, Hamzaji, Antony Sir, Kareem Sir and me took the metro to Tilak Nagar... We traced her house, which was easily identifiable due to presence of so many idols of Hindu goddesses kept nearby, in the bylines of Tilak Nagar. We were greeted by her husband and led to their dilapidated house. There on one corner stood Mrs. Seema, who was trying to maintain a pale smile on her face despite the awful pain in her lower abdomen. She was neither able to sit, nor stand as the pain does not subside. Her husband narrated the string of events and informed that the hospital where she underwent operation for Uterus Cancer has now asked for the CT scan to be done to diagnose the secondary development. The hospital has given a date after three months for scanning and so the poor lady had no choice, but bear with the pain as financial constrains made it difficult to get her diagnosed through scanning done elsewhere in order to start the treatment in the same Government hospital. We, the inexperienced volunteers however, decided to pool in money for getting her diagnosed and also conveyed the situation of this patient to our ever helping Dr. Sindhu Sunil Madam, whose medical intervention went a long way in mitigating the excruciating pain Seema was going through.

Our second visit:-

Our second visit was an abrupt one on the day when hospital authorities thrown the bad prognosis on face of the patient. Not only the patient, but her family comprising husband, daughter and father-in-law were in deep shock and crying when we managed to reach near her and with our concerted counseling for more than two hours we could not only calm down the patient but to our utter dismay a determination to live life despite oddities could be instilled in her. The confidence in life built by us then we made

It was after one week we along with our doctor friend Sh. Nishad visited Smt. Narang. He saw the diagnostic reports of progressing cervical cancer, but the patient was coming back to normalcy though on symptoms due to medication, unaware of the depth of the disease. She was already feeling well...probably our intervention worked out.... but this was the critical moment to tell her when she was relaxing, smiling and sharing her life’s ups and downs with us. She was blushing profusely while narrating her happier times including love marriage. We were all like her long lost friends found again by this time.

Lekha teacher was of great help to Seema in her critical moments and so they were very close to each other. Later we realized that teacher was helpful not only to Seema, but plays the role of an agony aunt to the entire locality. So we were able to appraise Seema’s husband about the bad prognosis bit by bit through Lekha Teacher. We were also to make her understand that 'all was not well '. However, may be due to inexperience, we were instilling a hope for life in her by diverting her attention from all the sufferings she was going through. On our instance she was limping back to life with medicines, checkups, some religious texts, and even to write ghazals as hamzaji used to advise her. She started insisting for our long presence with her as it increases her confidence in life.

Weeks gone by, our visits also increased as we were well aware of the imminent in her case. On our specialist Sumitha joining the group visiting this patient things changed tremendously as Seema started opening up her heart further before Sumitha and Lekha teacher. She was unwinding all her worries....anxiety about her daughter, about her husband and all.

Her condition started deteriorating during the first week of July 2009. By the time we had really made a bond with her and the family. The doses of pain killers prescribed were increased considerably... still her ardent belief that the Goddesses around her house will not deprive her was the only hope left in her.....though knowing well we were also hoping some miracles to happen as she was more than a patient, say a sister, a family member, for all of us by then. Slowly and gradually she was becoming bedridden.... increased pain...more and more weak.....and loosing weight considerably. Her condition was even worse in the midst of July. Her hope was grim and we were supporting her and family socially and psychologically...

On a Tuesday evening, she invited all of us to tie Rakhi on Raksha Bandhan day. I could make it to accept her invitation. It was very painful to see her… She was in excruciating pain, still her happiness on my reaching there was felt through her scanty smile. She tied a beautiful Red Rakhi on my wrist......... that night, about to return her condition was severely critical and I along with Lekha Teacher took her to the nearest doctor and got some pain killer injections for a temporary relief....

Just a couple of days passed by, the message came from Lekha teacher that Seema needs to be hospitalized as she was seemed to be sinking. was around 09-30 at night and we along with Hamzaji went to DDU...there she was given some more pain killers getting her temporary respite......We returned after 12.30......the following morning I got a message from Hamzaji that Smt. Seema Narang is no more…. I was shocked....nothing in my mind for a moment.....the Red beautiful Rakhi was holding tight on my wrist...........

Madhu Nair
(*Name of the patient changed to hide her identity)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Disability Camp in Delhi on 25-26 February 2010

My dear friends,

Here is an advertisement published in Times of India on 23rd February 2010 regarding a Disability Camp being organized by the Social Welfare Department of Government of NCT of Delhi. Please see if any of our patients with disability due to paraplegia or amputation of limbs as a result of bone cancer etc can get some assistance through this camp, which seems to be a single window system.

So if possible, try to reach this message to such patients known to you so that they may attend the camp with required documents and get benefited.

With regards,

kv hamza
Gen. Secretary, DNipCare

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

A prolific Sunday evening

Yesterday I along with Hamza uncle visited Mrs. Soma Mukherjee*, at the Cancer Hospital. Though she appeared to be happy her family not being with her was really hurting her. During my first visit I was convinced that she was quite comfortable with her mom. But the way she broke down yesterday, I really have to rethink what I convinced myself. I have promised her that I'll be visiting her in the hospital before she leaves after her present chemo. And I really hope that I could keep my word.



Here is a patient whose sole companion in her battle against cancer (Rhabdomyosarcoma) are her own morbid thoughts. However, there is hardly a dull moment amongst her ward mates whom she keeps amused and distracted from their own sufferings by her sharp wit and repertoire of anecdotes. Soma is a young 30 year old woman with two kids and deserted by husband. I have given 15 years of my life to him, but he could not give me even 15 days of his life when I am ill and in dire need, she sums up the marital misery candidly. Even though the association of the volunteers of DNipCare with her is less than three months old, yet the enthusiasm to meet the patient increases exponentially after every visit since we think her to be one amongst us.

Soma unlike so many others in her situation believes in living life to the full and craves for education to stand on her own legs. The notebook withholding computer basics learned from newly joined classes is kept safely on her hospital bed. Her only complaint is that she forgets many things memorized from the note book due to ill effects of her disease or chemotherapy. She has also registered to appear in the matriculation examination through the school of open learning. It is but a well known fact that Soma used to be the leader of her colony’s womenfolk; be it for getting their bank accounts opened to persuading them to save in anticipation of adverse times. It may also sound ironic but her appreciation for the dressing sense of doctors and nurses even while she is undergoing surgery endears her to all of them.

The sunny day also draws to a close, coinciding closely with the hospital’s visiting hours. We left the hospital with heavy hearts, but with broad smiles on our faces till she could see us through the glass windows from her bed, only on Soma’s insistence. A thought flitted past my mind; was it I who counseled her to fight back the disease mentally or was it she who counseled me to be happy always the real counselor today? Of course, I still do have to visit the hospital once more before Rema is discharged; after all she is a member of our family, the Palliative family.

kv hamza

(*Name of the patient changed to hide her identity)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Patient Visit - Volunteer's Experience

It was one of those unpleasant chilly weekends of January in Delhi, where people too like to stay away from the streets like the Sun. I ventured out alongwith a couple of friends who came to my place to spend the weekend. We needed to meet our team leader Karim Sir at CP to accompany him to one of their regular patient visits. It was going to be my first such visit as a volunteer.

First we went to Lekha Teacher’s house in Tilak Nagar. She told us about the three patients we intended to meet that day. She has already met them and was keeping track of the developments. As we were five in numbers she suggested we go by her old Matiz.

On our way we stopped by a departmental store and got all the monthly provisions for the patient. DNipCare has introduced this system and continuing for a while. Another level of involvement in those shattered lives.

After the initial struggles Karim Sir could negotiate smoothly through those narrow gallies ignoring the frequent groans of that withered car, at times going back to the roads we came by as Lekha teacher got bit confused about the route. And finally at around 3 pm we could knock the door of James* House.

James*.. a 12 year old boy with unevenly short hair on a recently shaven head was watching cartoon network then. He was suffering from brain cancer. But his eyes gleamed in joy as he saw Lekha teacher among the bunch of strangers who got into his room. She introduced the rest of the team to him and started chatting. About his recent vacation in Kerala among the other things. In between he mentioned about his next date of chemotherapy. I struggled to control that chocking sensation I felt when that word come out of his mouth as he was talking about his painting class.

He was not in a mood to remain gloomy. He told us about the comic movies he likes to watch… Imitated the voice of that famous Kerala politician everyone likes to hear… invited Lekha Teacher to spend the night in his house…

It surprised me the way he is keeping that unfortunate but cruel illness at bay. Not allowing it to take over his little joys in life making it easier even for the people who are around him.

I was not a well trained volunteer and I was ignorant of the methods of approaching a case like that. I left it to my instinct. And spent the rest of the time with his as with one of my high spirited little cousin brothers. While leaving him after a while I promised him to meet him again (a promise which I really want to keep).
My friends too were silent on our way back. I know what they feel as I was also going through an unprecedented emotional rollercoaster witnessing to those rare occasions of joy peeping out of pain and that of hope gleaming behind despair.
That was my first experience in DNipCare. The experience which made it sure to me that I want to continue with its programmes.

Me (Ajith) & Joseph & Surjith

(*Patients name changed to hide his identity)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

World Cancer Day 4th February

Today is the World Cancer Day – 4th February 2010.
Forty percent of the 12 million people diagnosed with cancer each year could avert the killer disease with protection against infections and lifestyle changes, experts said on Tuesday ahead of World Cancer Day on Feb. 4.

The number of global cancer deaths is projected to increase by 45 percent from 2007 to 2030 (from 7.9 million to 11.5 million deaths), influenced in part by an increasing and ageing global population.

Here are some facts about cancer:

-- Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms.

-- A defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer.

-- Some key risk factors for cancer that can be avoided include smoking -- responsible for 1.8 million cancer deaths per year (60 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries).

-- Being overweight, obese or physically inactive -- together responsible for 274,000 cancer deaths annually.

-- Excessive alcohol intake -- responsible for 351,000 cancer deaths per year.

-- Sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) infection -- responsible for 235,000 cancer deaths per year.

-- Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide: it accounted for 7.4 million deaths (around 13 percent of all deaths) in 2004.

-- Lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer cause the most cancer deaths each year.

-- The most frequent types of cancer worldwide (in order of the number of global deaths) are:

Among men -- lung, stomach, liver, colorectal, oesophagus and prostate.

Among women - breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical.

-- Ageing is another fundamental factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, with the overall risk accumulation combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective, as a person grows older.

-- The main types of cancer leading to overall cancer mortality each year are:
Lung (1.3 million deaths/year):
Stomach (803 000 deaths)
Colorectal (639 000 deaths)
Liver (610 000 deaths)
Breast (519 000 deaths).

Sources: Reuters/WHO
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Kate Kelland)