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Home News and Update Year 2011 Survivor Says Her Mission Is To Create Awareness And Build Hope In Patients

Survivor Says Her Mission Is To Create Awareness And Build Hope In Patients

Times of India
07 November 2011
By Sruthy Susan Ullas
Bangalore India

Helping Them Brave Cancer

Keerti Tewari went through all the stages of a cancer patient–the denial, the depression, the suffering, the gruelling treatment. But these are things of the past now. Today, she is living her life to the fullest. Sitting in the AG office on Park House Road, her life is full of hope, for herself and for others. And, that has become her passion now – to build hope in others as they pass through the dark days of their lives.

Survivor Says Her Mission Is To Create Awareness And Build Hope In Patients

Keerti Tewari is the Accountant General of Karnataka and is one of the founder members of the Pink Hope support group that consists of breast cancer survivors. The group now tries to create awareness among women, especially patients, that cancer is not the end of the world.

It was in 2007 that Keerti was diagnosed with the disease. “The initial reaction was denial. I could not believe it, and was sure that there was some mistake or that the doctors had got it wrong. It was followed by days of crying. I used to hug my 9–year–old daughter and weep. I thought I was going to die. Even when doctors and family said that I would be fine, I was not convinced. I was desperate to meet somebody who had actually survived the disease. I wanted to hear it out of her mouth to gain that confidence. When I finished my treatment, I thought of the others who would also have the same desire and decided to speak out to them. I also realized the early detection of cancer is utmost important and wanted to create some awreness,” Keerti said. Keerti and her group conduct sessions for breast cancer patients on the last Saturday of every month at the HCG hospital. At these sessions, the breast cancer survivors speak about their experiences instilling hope and courage in the devastated minds. They have had talks on diets, insurance, yoga and genetic counselling (on the hereditary nature of the disease).

“At one such session, I found a very young lady, with a little girl clinging to her hand, walking around. With a scarf tied around her head, I could easily figure out that she was a cancer patient. When I got talking to her, she told me that she was looking for a new wife for her husband. ‘I want my daughter to have a good stepmother,’ she told me. I scolded her for being silly, told her cancer does not necessarily mean death. ‘How do you know? Who are you to say that?’ she asked. I told her, ‘I know because I did not die.’ She was moved. She held on to my hand, wept for half an hour and told me, ‘You have given me hope. I will not hunt for a wife now’. We are still in touch and she is doing fine. This is the kind of hope and positivity that an interaction could do,” she said.

The sessions, attended by around 100 women every time, are platforms for them to raise their concerns, fears and apprehensions that they sometimes hesitate to ask doctors. “We share our experiences on the various treatment options available, the best way to deal with the side effects of the treatment and other issues. There are things that concern all of us like hair loss and the blackening of the nails. For doctors, it might be trivial issues as they are dealing with life itself, but for us women they do matter,” said Keerti.

The sessions are not always made serious. After all life is all about having fun! The group conducts quizzes on breast cancer, cooking classes where chefs teach to cook nutritional food, make–up classes to look better during those hard days and have once even performance by a cancer survivor. The group also does counselling over the phone for those in need.

Keerti Tewari, accountant–general of Karnataka and breast cancer survivor, is running an awareness campaign for cancer patients in Bangalore

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