Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wings of hope - Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre and Research Institute, Thakurpukur, Kolkata

Cancer kills. But that is not the worst, it strips a family bare till what is left is the indignity of it all. The disease and the corporate hospitals have ravaged my family a number of times. Within their sterilized walls and behind their stiff linen they have played on sentiments by prolonging the inhumanity of the disease they well knew was beyond repair.

But then each incident is a step on the learning curve, and I have had quite a few, so it would be pretty dumb of me not to scratch beyond the flower vases, the elegant cafeterias and the smug doctors. Fortunately for me, I managed and learnt with great joy that cancer though quite a killer, need not always unhinge the likes of me.

Here is an account of a place that I saw and liked. It has been almost a year that I am volunteering for them and I am yet to see feet of clay. The simple fact that cancer care is affordable and not all hospitals charge medicines on mrp was the starting point of my journey into this facility.

Take a look at their children's centre for cancer care and spread the word.

She is making friendship bands. A little girl of seven, she weaves the multi-coloured strings with concentration. The room, a cheerful pink and purple is full of natural light. If it was not for the give-away face masks, it would be impossible to tell that Shreya and the other children in this room, so engrossed in activities, are actually undergoing strenuous cancer treatment.

Anjali 10 was diagnosed with leukaemia. No one in her family had cancer, so her parents were shocked when the body aches and fever she had for a few days turned out to be cancer. Her mother thought, at worst, it was rheumatoid fever, which was in the air around that time. A blood test showed Anjali had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the commonest juvenile cancer—fatal if not treated quickly, but with very high chances of a cure if diagnosed within three weeks. She spent the next few months in and out of hospital for radiation, chemotherapy and injections. “If it had not been for the expertise of her doctors and the therapeutic approach towards Paediatric Oncology that we received at Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre and Research Institute (SGCC&RI), Thakurpukur, Kolkata would have been a lost battle for Anjali,” says her mother. 13 now, Anjali has regrouped to her usual routine of school, art and dance, with fond and not grim memories of her hospital stay. She visits for follow ups only.

Celebrating 24 years of exemplary existence in Kolkata, India, indira Manik Children's Hospital, a part of SGCC&RI was inaugurated by Mother Teresa in 1991. Modelled on the lines of Disneyland, the hospital stands amidst an amusement park, vast landscaped greens, a fountain and a functional toy train around beautiful water bodies.
Creating patient-centred cancer care

The founder of SGCC&RI Padmashree Dr Saroj Gupta is recognised worldwide as a legendary figure. His life was dedicated in providing the best possible cancer treatment for all. In early 1973, seeing the plight of cancer patients who failed to get even a bed, not to mention cancer care, Dr Saroj Gupta, then a young radiotherapist, formed a Society with a group of doctors, social workers and philanthropists.  His mission was to form a Cancer Centre for the afflicted patients and their families. SAROJ GUPTA CANCER CENTRE and RESEARCH INSTITUTE was conceived initially to provide a sojourn to the distressed cancer patients who came from remote villages for treatment.The first fund-raising event was a drama staged by a group called Sikha, based on a story written by Dr Saroj Gupta, where he himself enacted the role of a poor cancer patient who was denied a bed in the city hospital. Many in the audience became a part of the Society and joined hands with Dr Gupta to help him with his fight against Cancer.

His vision is carried forward by his sons, Anjan Gupta, honorary secretary, SGCC&RI who left a flourishing architectural practice in America to volunteer his services to the hospital and Dr Arnab Gupta, one of the best surgical oncologists in India and director on-board, SGCC&RI.

“The best is what we believe in and we do not compromise on that vision. We are confident of our holistic approach towards cancer treatment that minimises the emotional and financial drain that families afflicted are forced to undergo,” says Anjan Gupta confidently.

With world class amenities and a gifted team we help in treating
·       Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
·       Acute myeloid leukaemia
·       Ewing’s sarcoma
·       Germ cell tumours
·       Hodgkin's disease
·       Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
·       Osteosarcoma
·       Tumours of the central nervous system
We also provide:
·       Bone marrow transplantation
·       Non-malignant haematology

Patient support services
Specialists take care of children and young adults across a wide range of different conditions. The actual treatment is supplemented by various therapies, psychological as well as occupational. Teaching staff are available to ensure that children do not miss out on school work inspite of long hospital stay. Mothers stay free of cost with the child. A serene surrounding in the lap of nature allows abundant fresh air and sunlight to the children. The ones who are not confined can enjoy toy train rides and the benefits of the amusement park. positives reported by patients include pain reduction, relaxation, increased energy and a reduction in the side effects felt from other aspects of treatment.
Dr Arnab Gupta with his child patients

 My thoughts found an echo here. “Cancer robs people of their mental peace. Especially in case of small children, it is agonising for parents to see the undeniable pain the little ones have to suffer, the ones that should not have to bear anything beyond grazed knees and scraped elbows. Our team is continuously trained to keep the children healthy mentally as well as physically and ensure they are battle ready,” says Dr Arnab Gupta as he hops on to the toy train with his patients.

·       Studies show a direct link between increased urbanisation and childhood cancer worldwide
·       Only 5 per cent of childhood cancer is hereditary; 95 per cent of the causes are external factors: viruses, pollution, radiation etc.
·       The commonest childhood cancer is leukemia; lymphomas, brain tumours, tumours of bone and soft tissue rank next
·       Perhaps the only good news about childhood cancer is that, unlike adult cancers, the cure rate is high: 75 per cent of childhood cancers are completely curable.