Thursday 18 Apr 2024

Support networks come to aid of cancer patients & survivors



A team of cancer doctors has recently started a special phone service for cancer patients all over India. The number (9355520202) is available from Monday to Friday, between 10 am and 5 pm. Patients with cancer can call this number to talk directly to cancer specialists or even have a video call to discuss their treatment.  

In Goa, there are also helplines and non-profit organisations (NGOs) helping cancer patients and survivors. One of them is CanSurvive, which is part of Caritas-Goa. They answer distress calls and provide support. Their team includes cancer doctors, surgeons, and members of NGOs. They help people find information and guidance about their illness.  

Father Maverick Fernandes, who directs Caritas Goa, says, “CanSurvive helps patients understand their options, recommends the right doctors and treatments, and offers some financial help. We also hold counselling sessions and meetings with other cancer survivors to lift the spirits of patients. We spread awareness in different communities and, if needed, guide them to palliative care.”  

Dilasa – Dr Rajanikant S S Usgaonker Palliative Care Centre, managed by IMA Ponda Charitable Trust, offers care to improve the lives of patients and their families facing life-threatening illnesses. Dr. Purnima Usgaonker, who coordinates Dilasa, says, “Dilasa has 25 beds and a team of consultants, doctors, volunteers, and a support group from IMA Ponda. People can email us at”  

Support groups are vital in helping people cope with the shock and fear of having cancer. Muskaan is a group in Goa that supports cancer patients, their families, and friends. Started in 2006 by Babita Agarwal, a breast cancer survivor, and Dr. Sharmila Sardessai Correia, whose mother survived breast cancer, the group is active in many areas.  

Dr. Sharmila explains, “Our goal is to give emotional support to newly diagnosed cancer patients and ease their worries about treatment. We also reassure them and their families about treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.”

She adds, “Muskaan spreads awareness about spotting cancer early, especially in women. We teach people about breast self-exams and screening tests like pap smears and mammograms. We also promote healthy lifestyles. We hold events like plays and walks, and we help manage lymphedema, a common side effect of breast cancer treatment. We even provide breast prostheses and special bras for breast cancer patients.”  

Babita shares, “Surviving cancer changed my perspective on life. I’ve learned to live in the moment and embrace life fully.”  

Doctors in Goa admit that there is a rise in many types of cancers in the State. But they believe that with the right information about treatment, a healthy diet, exercise, and a positive attitude, people can recover and lead normal lives.  

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