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Cancer Patient in Family? There's Help at Hand

Times of India
17 April 2010
Mumbai, India

Cancer patient in family? There's help at hand
Goregaon resident Vinay Gupta is a man of humble means, working in a garment shop. When his 12–year–old son was diagnosed with brain tumour, he was given an estimate of Rs 8 lakh–plus. “With difficulty, I managed to collect Rs 2 lakh with help from family and friends,” he says. The remaining sum came as contributions from various charitable trusts and funding agencies.

Cancer, a chronic disease, needs expensive treatment over years. Its treatment in the pediatric years is quite steep for some forms of cancer, concede doctors. Apparently, the Gangulys had spent over Rs 25 lakh on their daughter Suparna’s cancer treatment, selling their house in the bargain. The couple committed suicide on Thursday night.

But doctors and NGOs state that there are many in the city who are willing to lend a financial helping hand to cancer–hit patients and families. “Here, we have many NGOs and trusts that help patients and their families. Many a times, families are in the dark about such organisations,” says Anita Peters of the CPAA, which even offers an insurance scheme offering financial cover against cancer.

Consider Gupta’s case itself. “My son has been under treatment for the last two years at Hinduja Hospital in Mahim and the doctors have been very helpful in arranging help from helpful agencies,” says Gupta. At present, his son is being given injections worth Rs 14,000 and the “doctor has promised to help us arrange the finances,” he says.

In Ghatkopar resident Mehrunnisa’s case, it was an NGO that came to help. When a cancerous tumour was first detected near Mehrunnisa’s seven–year–old Saif ’s bladder, the first thing she and Amir Ali did was to gave up their home. “We had paid a year–long deposit for the house in Ghatkopar (E), but we withdrew it and moved to another place,” says Mehrunnisa. But Prince Aly Khan Hospital where Saif was under treatment, put her in touch with Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA), an NGO, that has been providing financial support for hospital treatment as well as medicines.

“The NGO promises to help a patient for three years, but they have been holding our hands for five years now. They put me through a catering course and have even helped me put up a stall in private firm,” says Mehrunnisa, whose husband’s modest income desperately needed to be supplemented.

Says Dr Rajan Badwe, director of Tata Memorial Hospital, “In our hospital, we try to help out the patients to the maximum of our capacity. We have spent Rs 1 crore in the last four months alone for pediatric cancer patients.” Another senior cancer doctor conceded that “at times the financial help that patients get is not enough, but it is something”.

Insurance Cover
To beat cancer, try an insurance cover. This is the message that the Cancer Patients Aid Association has been trying to deliver for over a decade. In collaboration with New India Assurance Ltd, the association offers a 15–year cover against cancer. “The insured person needs to undergo checks every year, but once cancer is detected the person get the insured sum – Rs 30,000 to Rs 2 lakh – every year thereafter,” says CPAA director Anita Peter.

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