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Cancer Survivors Gather to Share Lessons of Hope

Times of India
15 February, 2010
Chennai, India

Cancer Day Function SHARING THE LIGHT: Actor Prasanna inaugurates the Cancer Survivors Day function organised by Vasantha Memorial Trust
It was a day of celebration for those who had come out on top in the battle against cancer on Sunday, ‘Cancer Survivors’ Day.’ More than 50 survivors gathered at an event organised by Vasantha Memorial Trust to share their happiness and give other patients the confidence that it was possible to beat the disease.

Founded by Dr Ramanathan Jayaraman in memory of his mother who died of cancer, the trust supports underprivileged patients – from diagnosis to treatment, support and rehabilitation. Run by volunteers since its inception in 1994, the trust has been responsible for the treatment and cure of over 550 patients from its Chennai, Coimbatore and Mumbai centres.

“It is 20 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, my daughter was 16 years old and studying in class XI. I remember my doctor asking how much more time I wanted and I said, ‘10 years.’ He asked if I would be content with just 10 years and I wished I had asked for 15 years,” said 57–year–old Sathyavathi.

“Now, I am here 20 years later. My daughter went on to complete school, college, got married and has two children. I have been around to see all this happen. I just want to tell everyone to have full faith in their doctors and to go on living their lives as before,” she added.

Veteran playback singer S Janaki, comedian Delhi Ganesh, actor Prasanna, script writer Ponvannan, singer Srinivas and Sangeetha, who stars in Tamil TV serials, appreciated the work of the trust.

“We conduct awareness camps on a routine basis in schools, colleges, slums, factories and even in medical colleges to educate people about the disease. We have started a new programme called ‘Pudhu Vasantham’ wherein trained volunteers speak to women about cancer detection on a one–to–one basis. We have reached out to 22,000 women so far, of whom 20,000 were from Tamil Nadu. In schools, we talk to children only about the ills of passive smoking and even ask them to discourage family members from smoking, if any. We have found this to be very effective in girls’ schools because they are able to influence their family members better. We tell students that if they rule out infections, obesity and tobacco, they can rule out 80% of the risk factors involved. At any point of time, there are 50 persons in schools, colleges, factories, and so on being told about the disease. It is an ongoing process,” Dr Ramanathan Jayaraman said.

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