The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Common code on the killer
- Support groups and doctors unite to help the poor fight cancer

Not another seminar of doctors or a medical camp. The Calcutta Medical College and Hospital conference room on Saturday was the venue for a meeting of a different kind. Some voluntary cancer support groups and doctors assembled during the day and pledged to help poor patients fight the fatal disease. The declaration comes at a time when most city hospitals are reeling under a dearth of life-saving drugs and have to depend on voluntary units for them.

The meeting brought several voluntary organisations under a common umbrella in their fight against cancer. Shromojibi Hospital, in Belur, took the lead and resolved to provide free chemotherapy to patients who cannot afford the treatment. “Our charges are very nominal, but if there is anyone from the economically-weaker sections, we will definitely consider the case,” said a spokesman for the hospital.

Fight Cancer, a support group, decided to adopt six-year-old leukaemia patient Tirthankar Das, while Barisha Kishore Sangha promised to get more free medicines for cancer patients. In April, Fight Cancer will sponsor the medical expenses of 60 more patients in city hospitals.

Hitayshini, a breast cancer support group, promised to provide free counselling to cancer patients undergoing acute emotional stress while battling the killer disease. “Counselling helps and we have achieved a lot of success in preparing the patients to face the challenge of surviving cancer,” a member said. Oncolink, a similar organisation, resolved to provide free medical care to the needy.

This apart, the meet also provided the perfect platform for a doctor-patient interaction on treatment procedures and follow-up cases. “There are several occasions when a patient is disappointed after meeting a doctor, as he does not get answers to all his questions. This meeting gave us an opportunity to share our experiences with doctors,” says Deepak Sarkar, secretary of Fight Cancer. Queries ranged from treatment procedures to preventive measures in tackling cancer.

“The meet was a great success and all the participants agreed that cancer is a social problem which can be fought with a unified effort. Our task also becomes easier if we get such support,” said S. Gangopadhyay, head of the radiotherapy department, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

Among those present at the meeting were state transport and sports minister Subhas Chakraborty and wife Ramola, representing Pather Panchali, a voluntary organisation for poor patients.

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