For centuries, cancer has remained and continues to remain a much-dreaded disease amongst patients and doctors alike. The psychological trauma faced by cancer patients following the diagnosis makes it impossible to even think about the various treatment options and take informed decisions. The burden is more felt by those who cannot afford such an expensive treatment.
The Cancer Aid and Research Foundation, located in Central Mumbai has been working towards reducing this burden, by provision of medicines and money for treatment especially among the financially constrained. This humanitarian effort would not have been possible if not for the perseverant efforts of a retired political science professor of St Xavier's College, A A Kazi.
The foundation that was established in 2001 provides accommodation to cancer patients and families during the entire course of treatment. The travel and ticket expense is also taken care of by the foundation. Free ambulance service is also being provided to Mumbai-based patients.
Once a patient approaches the foundation, an interview is conducted following which the patients requisition for financial assistance is being scrutinized by a committee. A decision regarding how much money can be allocated is also considered by the committee members. Patients would be entitled to receive up to a maximum of 50% of the treatment cost, which is directly sent to the hospital and medical shop.
Cancer patients form different regions of the country approach the foundation, claiming financial help. In addition, a number of posts and e-mails also reach the organization everyday. Cancer patients from Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital are also directed to the set up.
The organization, which has over 33 employees and 20,000 donors, has provided financial help worth 6 million. The patients are categorized into three major categories depending on the severity of the illness. Curative means that the patients can be cured of the deadly disease owing to early diagnosis. Those under the adjuvant group have a fair chance of survival while palliative comprises of terminally ill patients.
The importance of mental fight in conquering the disease is much stressed by the employees. Once in, the patients are provided counseling on the keeping up the faith and hope.
The most important cancer relevant to the Indian context is lung cancer and can be attributed to smoking (including passive smoking). Chewing of tobacco is yet another crucial factor, linked to oral cancer. While it is important to diagnose cancer early so that effective treatment can be instituted, it is equally important to refrain from activities that may lead to cancer.