New Delhi: One in every 12 women is prone to breast cancer in India, yet the number of those treated for the disease is far lower because of the prohibitive costs. But as another World Cancer Day comes around Feb 4, there's hope for such people - Breast Cancer Patients Benefit Foundation is an NGO that steps in with financial help.
It is the brainchild of Sameer Kaul, a senior oncology surgeon at the Apollo Cancer Institute here; his co-professionals and patients who are battling breast cancer and also those from the corporate sector who support this cause.
Breast cancer is in fact fast overtaking cervical cancer. This is particularly true of metros where changing lifestyle is cited as a cause.
"Late marriages which in turn result in late child birth give rise to various hormonal changes. The female hormone oestrogen which is otherwise shielded by pregnancy is the villain which gets a lot of time to play foul," Kaul told IANS.
Although there are various organisations like Cancer Sahyog that spread awareness about cancer, there are very few that provide financial help.
"Herceptin, which is also called the magic bullet because it directly attacks the cancerous cells without side effects like hair loss or vomiting, costs about Rs.100,000 (over $2,000) per shot. For a full treatment, six to seven doses might be required which brings the costs to Rs.600,000-700,000. Not everyone can afford this kind of treatment," said Kaul.
The foundation conducts fundraisers to help those who can't afford the treatment.
Alpana Brenden is one such patient who was nearly on her deathbed because of breast cancer but couldn't afford her treatment. Her sister approached the foundation for help. The treatment with Herceptin helped cure her completely.
The foundation conducts 'paid' cancer checkups in various corporate offices and in turn utilises the money for conducting cancer screening camps in local hospitals in semi-urban and rural areas for early detection and treatment.
Started in 2002, the foundation conducted its first fundraiser in 2004 at Delhi's Old Fort where there was a musical concert by noted ghazal singer Ghulam Ali and a fashion show by designer Ritu Kumar.
This year it has invited the famous Pakistani rock band Junoon for a fundraiser titled Ehsaas Feb 24, again at the Old Fort. Fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani is going to conduct a fashion show on the occasion.
At present the foundation is functional only in New Delhi and neighbouring areas but it plans to go to other parts of the country soon.