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Daring duo spreads awareness on cancer

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By AMIT UKIL in Sukna
  • Published 20.06.06

Sukna, June 20: As Ritu Joseph steered her SUV into town today, she completed 13,300 km on the road with the mission of spreading awareness on cancer.

A dentist with the army for ten years, the Pune-based Ritu (47) has teamed up with Vandana Natu (30), a filmmaker from Mumbai, to organise camps across the length and breadth of the country. They have successfully held 61 sessions, some of them at 12,700 feet above sea level.

The women were united in this unique drive through their experience of the killer disease. Both had breast cancer, from which they recovered after treatment for five years and eight months, respectively.

Project Highways, as they call their mission, was flagged off at Tata Memorial Hospital on April 1 and is expected to turn full circle on November 6, coinciding with a major Asia-Pacific meet on cancer in Mumbai.

They are being accompanied by Ritu?s 14-year-old daughter, Tista, who will leave them two days later to attend school in Pune.

Relating their experiences and providing information and useful tips on early detection of cancer, the trio addressed their 62nd camp at the army auditorium in Sukna. The audience comprised a sizeable section of officers and men of Trishakti Corps and their families.

?We have so far covered places in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, the Northeast (except Tripura and Mizoram). From here we will go to Sikkim and then on through Orissa and south India, back to Pune. In our second leg we hope to cover northern India, including Leh,? said Ritu.

They trio shared a lot of information on breast, cervical and oral cancers, using flip charts and pictures. They were helped through the session by interpreters.