Eighteen year-old Suraj Kute from Parbhani, a small village in Maharashtra came to Mumbai for the first time in January 2011 at the age of 13for treatment of B-cell cancer. His visit lasted nine-and-a-half months.
Finding an affordable place to stay in Mumbai or any other city during the course of the treatment is a difficult task for underprivileged families during their family member’s treatment for cancer. Many live in the footpath outside the hospitals which has its own disadvantages primarily of being unhygienic. Hygiene, good nutrition and a positive environment are necessary to ensure holistic care during treatment.
Without a clean place to stay and other support, the children can succumb to infections. In such cases, their parents who themselves have little resources often abandon their treatment because of the difficulty in coping under such difficult circumstances.
Kute’s case was no different. However, St Jude India ChildCare Centres for the cancer-afflicted spotted him and came to his rescue.
While cancer treatment does not require continuous admission in hospitals, it is vital that one stays somewhere close by during the time, which usually lasts six-eight months. With 35 centres in seven cities across India, St Jude’s is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Mumbai in 2006. It offers children, suffering from cancer and their accompanying parents a hygienic and cost-free place to stay while they receive treatment at hospitals in large cities.
The centres also offer emotional support in the form of educational and recreational activities and psycho-social support and skill development events for parents.
Suraj’s memories are hazy from the time, as he was in and out of the hospital undergoing rigorous chemotherapy sessions. But what he does recall vividly are some of the people he met at the centre. Initially, he found it hard to adjust to the routine, but affectionately recalls the care and love he received from the staff and other families, especially the mothers who were there for treatment of their kids. Within two months, he understood how things worked and got into the rhythm of the centre. “Yes, of course, I still remember those people. In fact, we are in touch with three-four families from the time,” he laughs, when asked about the tough times.
Kute continued coming to St Jude’s centre for follow-up treatments, which eventually stopped in 2013, when he finally won his battle against cancer. He now comes to Mumbai once a year for regular check-ups.
Currently, Kute is awaiting the results of his third year B.Com exams. Alongside his studies, he has been working at an automobile showroom in his hometown for the last one year. He is also preparing for the Public Service Commission exams, he said.
How the Centre works
Founded in 2006 by Shyama and Nihal Kaviratne, and a dedicated group of volunteers, each centre (http://www.stjudechild.org) typically accommodates 12-16 families in individual family units which are provided with all that they would need during their stay. Each centre has a common community space or learning area and shared ablution facilities, common kitchen and dining area. Each family has their own cooking stove in the kitchen and provisions for cooking are supplied every week.
The families can stay in St Jude’s centres for as long as the treatment requires them to stay and every time they return for follow-up treatment or check-up, they are assured of a place to stay.
Each centre typically accommodates 12-16 families in individual family units which are provided with all that they would need during their stay. Each centre has a common community space or learning area and shared ablution facilities, common kitchen and dining area. Each family has their own cooking stove in the kitchen and provisions for cooking are supplied every week.
St Jude India ChildCare Centres, works alongside Tata Memorial Hospital, AIIMS, New Delhi, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, and cancer hospitals in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, Vellore and Kolkata. It now has 35 centres with 435 family units in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Vellore, Guwahati and Delhi.
"Our hygienic, protective, nurturing environment gives these children the best chance of beating cancer by allowing them to recuperate and lead a full, healthy life. Families, battling the same situation, form a community at our centres and become each other's support system, helped by our skilled counselors. Thanks to the generous support from our donors and hospitals, our plans to scale up to 1000 units by 2021 across the country are on track," said Anil Nair, CEO, St Jude India ChildCare Centres.
The World Cancer Survivor’s Day is celebrated across the globe on 2 June to spread a positive message about the disease and to make life a little easier for others suffering it. Year 2019 is the 32 year of the annual National Cancer Survivors day.
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Updated Date: Jun 02, 2019 16:35:56 IST