Mumbai, May 3, 2019: When you are faced with a cancer diagnosis, you learn a lot of new words – and old words take on a whole new meaning. On April 18, 2019, Nehru Centre, with a whooping crowd of 700+ people, witnessed a panel discussion on the Importance of Psycho-Social Support in Cancer Care.
The Seminar was organised by award winning NGO – Sanjeevani Life Beyond Cancer, who has been working for prevention and early detection of cancer and providing care, counselling and rehabilitation to persons fighting cancer, with focus on navigating them from disease to wellness through various activities.
Cancer tries to take a lot. The life you had, the life you envisioned or attempted to plan. Your feeling of invincibility. Your trust in your body. Your understanding of age and life. It takes away the control you thought you had. The control over your goals; your opportunities, your future. It tries to trick you into believing you are alone, no one understands, no one wants to help.
Hope. It isn’t just a word, a sound that rolls from the tongue. It’s a beacon, a bright light that is more powerful than anything else on this earth. Entire civilisations have been built upon hope, and millions of people have clung to it like it is the only lifeline they have.
And that is what highlights the importance and need for psycho-social support in cancer care.
At the panel were the following speakers:
Desiree Punwani – Author and therapist began by stating that a state of confusion is the first reaction of the patient towards the diagnosis. She has been touched by cancer very closely as her mother was diagnosed with cancer in the last stage. She was also later diagnosed with the same disease. The point she emphasised on was that when the patient receives the news, their whole world shatters. Thoughts like how the path of treatment would be or if there is a path at all. Every aspect of a person’s life gets affected – be it family, relationships or career.
Viji Venkatesh – Regional Head – Max Foundation, who has done extensive research on cancer, and even visited international institutions, felt that whether in India or abroad, the disease arouses a sense of isolation. The need for psycho-social support remains the same everywhere. The need of the hour is to acquire the right knowledge about cancer which will help us deal with it in a positive way. Together we can learn and share and help people cope with cancer.
Dr. Vani Parmar – Onco Surgeon with Tata Memorial Centre agreed that fear is the first thing that is associated with the disease. One needs to understand that cancer is not a death sentence, and seeking emotional help always helps. It is but just another chapter which requires lifestyle changes. The road to recovery does get rough, but what is required is support from family and friends to face the adversity. The society must take responsibility of creating a congenial atmosphere. What is most important is acceptance of the problem, and having a positive attitude towards it.
Dr. Anand Parihar – Managing Trustee of Cope with Cancer, reiterated that hardships are not faced alone by the patient, but by the entire family. The first and foremost thing to do is to accept the diagnosis; only then is one able to decide the journey ahead. The role of a caregiver becomes extremely important to retain a positive frame of mind.
Vipin Anand – Managing Director of Life Insurance Corporation of India Limited, shared his personal experience with cancer in the family and the resultant stress arising out of it. According to him, three things are important for persons fighting cancer: The will to live; the will to fight, and the presence of somebody to support him. He also advised prudent financial planning and adequate coverage to deal with the financial hardships caused by cancer.
Ruby Ahluwalia, Founder – Sanjeevani Life Beyond Cancer, moderated the discussion. She also talked about a research report on, “The Impact Evaluation Research Study on the Importance of Psycho Social Support in Cancer Care”, conducted by Sanjeevani, in collaboration with the research wing of Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work.
The research report which was released on the Seminar highlights key findings from the lens of the doctors and patients – who have unanimously voiced the need for psycho-social support, as it is of utmost importance that patients receive adequate information, support and skills necessary to manage the illness as well as the disruption in work and family life.