Hearing the name of the disease – “Cancer” makes us numb because this deadly disease has still not found any definite cure. Cancer has left many families incomplete and shattered. Recently in the year 2020, India reported 700000 plus deaths. Many patients are left untreated because either the disease is not detected on time or they do not have access to required palliative care for the patient as cancer treatments are highly expensive and cannot be afforded by everyone.
Various therapies like chemotherapy, radiation, and many more though destroy the growing bad cells but along with that, it kills the good and happy cells in the body leaving the patient with further symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever, and illness. For higher quality of life of the patient and to increase his lifespan, it is crucial for a patient to receive the required palliative care.
The fact that the patient is safest in the hospital under the supervision of lifesavers- Doctors; nothing can beat the vibes of a home and family. Patients tend to be more comfortable in their homes rather than in a hospital setup. Realizing the dearth of home palliative care services in India, CanSupport came into being.
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“Whether or not the patient beats cancer, palliative care is imperative from as early a stage as possible” – CanSupport’s Core Belief
The largest free home-based palliative care programme in India is run by CanSupport. 2600 cancer patients and their families are receiving care from palliative care professionals at any given moment. They also manage daycare facilities, training programmes, and outpatient clinics.
Journey of CanSupport
Cancer support programmes in India were invented by social activist and cancer victim Harmala Gupta. She started the first cancer support group in India, “Cancer Sahyog,” in 1990 after being diagnosed with the disease. Together with Ruth Wooldridge, a nurse from the UK, she started a three-month trial study in 1996 to bring palliative care to the homes of six patients with terminal cancer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. This marked the start of CanSupport’s programme for palliative care delivered at home.
The largest home-based palliative care programme in India is being offered by CanSupport. Their palliative care teams visit and provide care for more than 2000 cancer patients and their families at any given time. It is now well known both domestically and internationally for the excellent services it continues to offer to Delhi and the National Capital Region’s disadvantaged cancer patients and their families without charge.
About Harmala Gupta – Cancer Survivor
Cancer survivor, innovator, and campaigner Harmala Gupta love to read and travel.
While completing her Ph.D. thesis at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in 1985, she received a diagnosis of “Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” a lymphatic system disease. Following her recovery, she believed it was her duty to establish loving and caring support services for cancer patients and their families in India.
She established India’s first peer-based cancer support group, Cancer Sahyog, in New Delhi in 1991. Determined and compassionate, she started “CanSupport” in 1996 after recognizing that the majority of cancer patients required palliative care. This organization has pioneered a free home-based palliative care service for the most vulnerable in northern India. In the Indian state of Punjab, home care teams have recently been established in Amritsar, and more are in the works. Additionally, CanSupport operates daycares, an assistance hotline, and outpatient programmes.
In addition to serving as President of CanSupport, Harmala is the Founder and President of Cancer Care India, an umbrella organization of cancer support groups created to promote cancer awareness in India and advocate for the rights of those afflicted by the disease.
She is a fellow of the UICC in Geneva and a member of the Governing Body of the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer & Research Institute in Delhi. She has spoken at both national and international conferences, written extensively on topics relating to palliative care and cancer survivorship, and been interviewed by media outlets both domestically and abroad.
A woman with sheer determination to support the world, she has won numerous honors, including the Lady Sheri Ram College for Women’s distinguished alumna award. She was also given an award by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry for “excellent contribution to social service,” which was presented to her by the President of India. She was awarded the Governor General of Canada’s medallion in February 2014 for her “groundbreaking contributions to palliative cancer care in India.”
Services by CanSupport
- Home Care
People with advanced cancer often opt to receive palliative care in the cosines and privacy of their homes, surrounded by loved ones, when their health is steadily getting worse and they have a very poor chance of being cured. For such patients, home care is also the most cost-effective choice because it allows them to save valuable time, energy, and resources.
Family issues can be discussed in a calm environment at home. The needs of patients and their families are taken into account by a doctor, nurse, and counsellor.
Palliative care can be added to curative cancer therapy early in the course of the disease at CanSupport’s outpatient clinics for better outcomes.
- Day Care
Cancer patients and their caregivers can focus on their personal welfare in a secure environment thanks to CanSupport’s Day Care service.
Child Day Care
Every Monday, children receiving cancer treatment and their caretakers are welcome to attend our Day Care facility. They are picked up by volunteers at Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital (IRCH) at AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospitals, and then they participate in a day of inspiring, life-affirming activities like music, dance, storytelling, and art. In the meantime, the daycare centre’s welcoming environment gives their caregivers the chance to get to know counsellors and other caregivers.
Children participating in a nutritional support programme receive daily breakfast and dietary supplements. Before they head back to the hospital for their checkups, both kids and adults enjoy a great meal. Throughout the year, holidays and other important occasions are also joyfully observed in the Day Care. When kids are away from home, a library and a non-formal education programme keep them up to date on their studies.
Teenage Day Care
An exclusive Day Care programme is offered on Wednesdays at the corporate headquarters to precisely meet the needs of teenage cancer patients. Young and adolescent cancer patients have special demands, and those needs must be met with the care that is suitable for their age. The goal is to assist youngsters in developing into self-reliant, confident young people. The programme offers a wide range of activities that have an emphasis on health and nutrition, education and knowledge, personality and skill development, and relaxation and healing.
Counseling is available through CanSupport as “Interaction Therapy.” It provides a secure setting for patients and their families to discuss any anxieties, concerns, or conflicting feelings they may be having.
Counsellors advise clients or family members to discuss their problems in order to find any underlying causes and pinpoint their unique mental models. They help people with relationship problems and find solutions. They discuss relaxation techniques or teach anxiety management techniques in order to assist people to manage their suffering both physically and emotionally. They aid in resolving conflicts or figuring out coping mechanisms. Typically, each session is customized to suit specific needs.
- Peer Support
Cancer may be extremely isolating in addition to being devastating. The immense hardship and stress brought on by the condition are made worse by the inability to express one’s suffering and agony to one’s family without upsetting them further.
CanSupport offers this crucial assistance in two ways: over the phone with facilitators and other survivors, or in peer support group sessions set up upon request. In this atmosphere, patients can openly and without embarrassment communicate with other cancer survivors about their individual experiences, suffering, worries, anxiety, and stress. The goal is to improve the comprehension of their own situation so that they may better deal with their emotional and spiritual problems.
- Palliative Care Training
The mission of CanSupport is to provide and advance superior treatment for serious chronic illnesses, including cancer. Since 1996, they have used our knowledge and experience to provide top-notch educational programmes in palliative care for medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, counsellors, paramedics, medical and nursing students/interns, psychologists, and social workers.
Additionally, they provide specialized training to strengthen or launch new palliative care programmes across the nation. State governments in Northern India’s Patiala, Srinagar, and Bikaner have welcomed CanSupport to reproduce the model in their healthcare facilities in recent years, with Raipur being the upcoming location.
CanSupport strives to create a compassionate and helpful society where individuals with cancer and their families can live with respect, comfort, and optimism. Their goal is to provide these individuals with the necessary physical, emotional, social, and spiritual assistance so they can make educated decisions.
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