A cancer survivor's tribute

A cancer survivor's tribute

November 3, 2015

As anyone who has dealt with the disease knows, cancer is cruel. The treatment can be a painful process for many, physically, psychologically as well as financially. Any help is welcome. For the many not-so-well-off patients, having a helping hand is imperative. 

It is here that many NGOs come into the picture. Not all hospitals treating cancer patients are equipped enough to deal with the larger needs of the patients, especially the countless poor, like counselling, a place to stay during the extended periods of treatment at hospitals and other extra-curative needs.

Kapil Chawla is one such patient, who has successfully recovered from cancer. As a tribute to cancer care, he has made a documentary on the facilities provided by Sneho-Neerh, a cancer care facility, or a Home Away From Home (HAH), as the NGO calls it, run by CanKids KidsCan in Hossainpur near Kolkata. The film is titled #Change for Childhood Cancer in Eastern India.

The organisation runs such HAHs in New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram too. Kolkata, in fact, is the latest. There are plans to start HAHs in Lucknow, Chennai and Ahmedabad as well.


Sneho-Neerh is a free-stay home, since it is meant for the needy, and caters to child cancer patiernts,. Here patients and their escorts can stay free of cost for their periods of treatment. CanKids KidsCan’s HAHs have been playing a big role in preventing poor kids and their families from leaving their treatments midway.

According to Dr Prantar Chakrabarty, head of the department of haematology at NRS Medical College and Hospital, unfortunately, many hospitals can’t do anything for the way patients have to live, like staying in close proximity to the hospital so that in case of urgency no time is wasted in getting the patient to start the right treatment at the right time. NGOs like CanKids KidsCan provide invaluable support in these circumstances.

                                                                                                 (youtube.com/Cankids Kidscan)

The documentary begins with mugshots of kids who are or were cancer patients. It goes on to show a mother speaking about the traumatic experiences she has had with her cancer-stricken daughter, and how CanKids KidsCan came to her aid.

Dr Prantar Chakrabarty highlights the urgency of the situation in Kolkata when he explains that patients getting treated in the city come from all over eastern India and also neighbouring Bangladesh.

Mohit Agarwal, the founder of the Kolkata chapter of the NGO, explains the need for setting up the NGO in Kolkata. Dr Maitryee Bhattacharyya, clinical professor at the Institute of Haematology and Transfusion Medicine in Kolkata, says how CanKids KidsCan  provides the moral and mental support to the patients which many hospitals are unable to provide because of the huge number of patients, whose treatments have to be looked into first; and also in some cases medicines that are not readily available and financial help for treatment.

Homes like Sneho-Neerh have also helped free up much-needed beds in government hospitals by providing the child patients a place to stay in between treatment periods, when they need to stay near the hospitals for follow-up treatments.

The role of CanKids KidsCan has been beautifully highlighted in the film by Dr Arpita Bhattacharya, consultant with the department of paediatric oncology at Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata. She says in the documentary that CanKids KidsCan, importantly, provides patients with a social worker who takes care of every need of the patient, from buying medicines to organising funds for treatment to organising various activities for the children. After all “… treatment alone… is not enough to cure a child. For the cure of a child, holistic care is needed,” and CanKids KidsCan is helping hospitals provide that holistic care.

Poonam Bagai, the founder of CanKids KidsCan, also appears in the documentary, explaining what the organisation is all about: among other things, its aim is to “enable children with cancer and their families, and ensure that they get (the) best standards of treatment, care and support.”

Interestingly, the music for the documentary has been composed by Yip Chan Kie Patrick of Hong Kong, another cancer survivor like Kapil Chawla.

See the documentary here

Written by Anushtup Haldar for Team M3.tv

Lead image: Inmates of CanKids KidsCan (cankidsindia.org)

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