Tears welled up in veteran actor Ratna Pathak Shah's eyes when she along with actor-husband Naseeruddin Shah visited terminally ill cancer patients in the capital Friday.
The couple visited 18 cancer patients at the day care centre in CanSupport, an NGO providing palliative care in northern India. They are in the city to raise funds to support the NGO by staging a play "Dear Liar" Saturday.
"I often feel that as actors we are overpaid and over-privileged. At times it is difficult to justify one's existence. I feel privileged to do something towards these cancer patients. I believe it is the only cure for my inner aches and pains," Naseer said.
"I will do all that I can through theatre to help these people, who need more palliative care than medical help," he promised.
"We have come to meet the patients to help them live in peace for the rest of their lives. We are ready to be 'willing hostages' to serve these people," said his wife.
She remembered her visit to a cancer hospital in Mumbai and reiterated that more than medical care these patients just want someone to say, "You matter".
"We need to provide them with spiritual, emotional and psychological support. They know they cannot be treated, as most of them are terminally ill. I believe each one of us has a great responsibility to provide emotional support to these patients," she said.
Run by Harmala Gupta, a cancer survivor, CanSupport provides home based palliative care, counselling and other forms of support to more than 200 patients and their families at any given time.
"This place is like home to me. I feel good when I come here but I feel so depressed whenever I go to the hospital. Frankly I didn't know who Naseeruddin was, I've never seen him on TV. But his visit and the concern he showed were comforting," said Savita, whose five-year-old daughter has been suffering from cancer since she was three.