Monday, December 22, 2008

Eye Camp Dec 2008.

21st Dec was very cold and grey.But the camp activities started in right earnest at 8.30 am.
Our young volunteers from youth against cancer,Anindita and Neha Mehta helped in the registration and noting patients vision. These patients were then escorted to the doctors who examined them and gave the required medications.Those who needed further detailed examination were given an appointment over the next 2 weeks or so. There were a number of patients who needed cataract surgery and they will be investigated and given dates for surgery.The surgery will be done at Sehgal Nursing Home ,Meera Bagh. They are kind enough to allow us to utilise teir Operation Theatre at cost price only. The doctors who attended the patients were,
Dr.Prashant Kashyap.
Dr.Devinder Sood.
Dr.Urmila KAshyap.
Dr.Rajeshwary Kulkarni.
Our other volunteers were
Mrs Veena Subedar
Miss Tanvi
Mr Shrikant Subedar
MrChandan Singh.
Ophtho remedies and Sapient were the companies which helped by providing a lot of free medicines for the camp. The rest was purchsed.All patients were given free medicines.
Now over the next 1 month ,I will be completing all the surgeries and OPD of the camp.
I would like to express a special thanks to my father Dr.MS Joshi,who always wholeheartedly supports all my Aadhar work.He took total charge of the camps organization ,from printing and distribution of the pamplets, getting the arrangements done on the day of the camp, and detailing all the volunteers to various for various jobs.
Thanks to him I could concentrate totally on the medical side.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where is the disability?

Today I saw an interesting sight. While I was driving to my clinic, I saw a small boy aged around 6-7 yrs,riding a full size cycle at full speed on the very busy and crowded main road of Paschim Vihar. The only unusual feature was that this child had only one useful leg with which he was pedalling away .The other leg, affected possibly by polio was flailing by the side of no use at all. I was amazed at the confidence of that child.My first thought was "my god!how is he going to get off".But obviously as he got on I suppose. To my eyes he had a physical disability ,but that kid did not have such a limited view of his abilities. It is really true that there are teachers all around you.It is just a question of how you look at what you see.
This little fellow really showed me disability is a lot of times in the mind.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eye Camp

Aadhar is organising an eye camp at Shri Sainath Eye And ENT Centre , A-361 Meera Bagh, New Delhi. on 21st Dec. 2008.
All our eye camps are organised in the clinic because all the machinery is at our disposal. All the patients are given a complete eye check-up.Usually we get about 300-350 patients in our camp OPD of the morning.It is not possible to do full justice to all patients in that time. Hence we call 10 patients per day till the work is done. So actually the camp OPD goes on for almost a month.During this period patients requiring surgery are identified and dates are given accordingly. Cataract surgery with intraocular lens implant and glaucoma surgery is done free of cost during the camp.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ramu's story

I am writing this true story purposely because Ramu and his father really taught me the importance of persistence and patience. We tend to write off so many patients ,thinking it is too late to help them. But this case luckily proved us all wrong.
When Ramu first came to us, he had a huge growth involving the eye.The eye had been completely destroyed and the tumour was hanging out of the orbit. Surface areas were sloughing and bleeding.
He was being treated in LNJP Hospital and was sent for support as he could not afford treatment. I had little hope that we would get a satisfactory result. The tumour was diagnosed as Rhabdomyosarcoma. The delay in treatment was not entirely their fault. They had gone to the district hospital when the tumour was very small. Ramu was admitted but they took their time doing investigations and getting the reports. In the meantime there was a strike by the class IV employees and they were discharged without treatment. Then Ramu and his father went to Allahabad where again after some tests which took a further month after which he was referred to Delhi.
In all this waiting ,valuable time was lost.By the time Ramu came to Delhi the tumour was huge.
Ramu's father was a farmer from a small village. They had no money and no relatives in Delhi. Since Ramu was admitted, the child was at least getting food and a bed to sleep on.
Surgery was ruled out at that stage and chemo-radiotherapy was advised to reduce the size of the tumour. Chemotherapy had a very marked effect and in three cycles the tumour really reduced in size.It was responding to treatment very well. Then Radiotherapy was commenced and this caused a further reduction. The shape of the eyeball became visible.
Between the chemotherapy cycles Ramu and his father stayed on the pavement outside the hospital.
To sustain the two of them Ram Bahadur,Ramu's father started plying a cycle rickshaw. He used to call me Didiya and his main complaint was that Ramu was naughty and would not study. Ramu was like any other 12 yr.old boy. He was always cheerful and during that entire year and a half I never heard him cry or complain. That pair really taught me a thing or two about resilience. They never thought even for a moment that the outcome may be unfavourable. Or maybe at such times ignorance is bliss.
Then came the surgery and the predictable shunting from one department to another. This time it was between the eye department which had to perform the surgery and neurology which had to assess whether there was any intracranial extension of the tumour. This drama went on for about 2 months. I was afraid that precious time and advantage given by radio and chemotherapy would be lost. Though I don't like to interfere in the treatment at all,this time I approached Dr A. Grover in Ganga Ram Hospital and requested him to see Ramu.He called him to the general OPD and after examination took an opinion from the neurosurgery department and posted him for surgery within two days. Dr.Zia Chaudhary was the associate ophthalmologist who took particular care of Ramu. The entire contents of the orbit were removed alongwith the eyeball which was completely destroyed by the tumour. The surgery was uneventful and went off well. This was followed by six cycles of chemotherapy , starting about a month post op. Ramu's entire treatment in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital was free as Dr.Grover admitted him in the general ward.
After the chemotherapy was over Ramu was fitted with a prosthesis giving a good cosmetic result as you can see from the photograph.
Ramu has now gone back to his village and is doing well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is it worthwhile....

Is it worthwhile to help a person in distress ??? Of course it is. In whatever way it may be and it does not matter what quantity, help is always appreciated and should be given without hesitation.
Of course you will always meet people who think other people have been created by the lord only to be of use to them.But that does not mean you should turn away each time.
I met this person on one of my hospital visits during a small party we had organised for children on chemotherapy. When the doctor told him I run this NGO, he just said if you give money for treatment , I want one and a half crore to take my daughter to London for an opinion. I told him we don't have that kind of money ,so he just turned around and said then why am I wasting my time talking to you? What a man!! In that one and a half crore we could arrange for complete chemo treatment of about 500 children. Aadhar has so far raised and spent Rs. 50 lakhs approximately on treatment of children with cancer. This has been used in the treatment of more than 250 children. But some have been on and off help.
But then one also meets people who make all efforts worthwhile.
Recently I was invited for a party by a young man who had completed his treatment and was now pursuing his ambition of being a model and an actor. He had invited each and every person who had helped him during the course of his treatment.This meant doctors, nurses, healers, and anyone who had motivated him during his treatment. I was surprised to get an invitation because I met him 8 yrs ago, only once just when he had been diagnosed with nonHodgkins lymphoma.
I spent some time with the family just recounting my experience and encouraged him to go on with the treatment. After that he spoke to me a couple of times on the phone.When I went for the party,I found this boy went thru the chemo , had a recurrence and then went thru Bone marrow transplant and was now cured and living in Mumbai pursuing his ambition of being an actor. What a guy. A true inspiration for anyone. He also remembered to thank even people like me who played such a minuscule role in what he went thru. Hats off to him. I wish him every success in his life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is it worthwhile....????

In the last 10 yrs of Aadhar,I have had a number of people asking me whether it would be worthwhile for them to donate for the cause of cancer patients. Some felt that if they donated money they needed confirmation that the result would be good. That however is not possible.Donation here is simply to help a fellow human being in distress. At this point I would like to share a very nice experience I had a few years ago.
I was just sitting and thinking about this work one day, after I had just received a call informing me of the death of one of the children on support. The patient was a young boy of 18 yrs. and had been doing quite well. But he had developed a severe infection and passed away. I was sitting and thinking whether I was actually wasting my time and peoples money , asking for donations and using it for cancer patients. I suddenly felt as someone have me a tap on my head and a voice in my head asked me ,
"Mother Teresa has been working for the dying and the destitute for decades .She knows that a lot of them are going to die inspite of her best efforts.Is she wasting her time? Just do the job that has been given to you as best as you can.The results are never in our hands." Since then I have been trying to do my postmans job as sincerely as I can.Taking money orders from donors and reaching them to those who need.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Experiences .

I have always felt that as a parent probably it is easier to handle your own suffering rather than see your child suffer even slightly.When I see parents run from pillar to post trying to get treatment for their children its disturbing. It is very disheartening to see people behaving rudely with patients undergoing such stress. I don't spend much time talking to the patients who come to me for the medicines ,but even those few minutes make a lot of difference to them.I have had patients calling me from their home states and asking for advise on health of their other child or what they should do regarding some problems they are facing.
One man here in Delhi with his son used to just come to talk to me as he had no one else here.
I am really thankful to God for giving me this opportunity to be able to give some other person a little peace and relief.
So many times children who have been on help come and meet us at the end of their treatment to say thanks. That's when I realise how much this help was needed. All this help can be done only with the help of donations. So my friends I take this opportunity to say " Om Bhavati Bhikshan Dehi" .Please give us bhiksha generously so we can help as many children as possible get good and timely treatment and look forward to a healthy and happy future.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How you can help

1. Make a donation to the trust fund, for the activities of the trust.
2. Adopt a child for treatment. We would request the donor to pledge a certain amount he/she would like to spend. We would try and find a child whose requirements generally fit that budget. Any amount required in excess of that amount would be provided by the trust. The sponsor would also be informed about the patient adopted and regular updates to the response on treatment.
3. Sponsor publications and books.
4. Sponsor eye camps or paediatric camps.

Aadhar - the meaning and the inspiration

Aadhar as the name suggests means support. And that is the main function of this trust which was set up in 1998 by a group of friends. The primary goal was to provide a helping hand to people who desperately needed it.
Life is a big mystery. However much we may feel we are in control, it is sooner or later brought to our notice that things can change in a split second to alter our entire course and plans. Unfortunately it is unhappy incidents which bring about maximum transformation in our thinking.
The same thing happened with me. I would like to share with you my experience so you may understand the motivation which makes this, such an important issue to me and the seriousness and dedication with which I do this work.
In 1995 I noticed a lump in my neck , quite by chance .There was no pain , discomfort, fever or anything at all that might give me a clue as to what was happening in my body. I am a doctor and I can vouch for the fact that I had no complaint which I was ignoring. But after finding the lump, we wasted no time in investigating the reason. It came as an absolute shock to me to find out that the lump was caused by a malignant transformation in glands in the neck, known as lymph nodes. The diagnosis was Non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I really don’t know what I thought when I was told about the diagnosis. I was stunned. It takes a little while for it to actually sink in and to start reacting to the situation.
Luckily since my husband is also a doctor, we dealt with the situation very pro-actively and within a fortnight all further investigations were completed and we were ready to proceed with the treatment .All our friends gathered around to help, and I am truly grateful to them for their support.
The next six months were a whirl of visits to the hospital, chemotherapy schedules, pain, illness and trying to act as normal as possible in front of my children ,who at that time were 6yrs and 10 yrs old.
But this was the first time I sat outside in the waiting area and looked around at all the patients. Not for the five or ten minutes we gave them as overworked doctors in a government hospital, but as a co-sufferer. I think rather than my own illness the problems of all those patients affected me much more. Both of us used to stand in the OPD waiting area, even if it was for an hour, because I used to feel I would get drowned in those anxieties and worries if I sat down. At that time I would always watch a group of people moving around in the OPD, sitting and talking to the patients and comforting them. I found out that they were from an organization called Cancer Sahyog, which gave emotional support to cancer patients. They were all cancer survivors or care –givers of cancer patients. One of the ladies I met had actually lost her son a few years ago due to acute leukaemia. To come back and give unstinting support to others is something I really admired. At that point I decided I would join the group after my treatment.
My treatment lasted for almost two years as I took Interferon injections daily for a year after my chemotherapy finished. It was only about a year after that, that I was ready to go back as a volunteer. I joined cancer sahyog and started visiting the hospitals with the other volunteers.

The problems cancer patients face, are really daunting. We from the educated and economically stable backgrounds are lucky, to at least be able to understand what is going on, afford treatment and remain as comfortable as it is possible to be.
Cancer Sahyog at that time gave only emotional support. I found it very frustrating to go to the bedside and say to patients “ sab kuch theek ho jayega” (everything will be fine)! The person was going through hell trying to figure out how to raise money for the next chemotherapy schedule or whom to ask when blood needed to be donated again. Definitely emotional support is exceedingly important ,but I felt something concrete needed to be done to help.

Then I came across two cases which made me decide that I must try to do something.
Something, however small it may be to give relief to another fellow human being.
I was in the hospital with the social worker, asking her about her work when an elderly gentleman came in to ask for help. He was about 75 yrs old and was being investigated, as he had a lump in his abdomen. He just said the hospital had given him a bill of Rs. 5000/- and he did not have the money to pay it. He had come only for a routine check and had not been informed about the cost of the investigations. He had no money and there was no one to help. The only way for him was to commit suicide.
I was really shaken up. Just for Rs. 5000/- this depressed and suffering old man was
ready to kill himself. I returned home feeling terrible. On my very next visit I came to know that a 23 year old youngster had jumped off the roof of the hospital after coming to know how much problem his elderly parents were facing in helping him undergo treatment.
Visitors and relatives, at least in India, seem to take a lot of time out, to commiserate with the family but actually make things much worse. They do not give any concrete help but come and discuss all kinds of things in front of the patient, sometimes making the situation worse.
The best way to help seemed to be to assist the patients get the medicines they needed.
I had a few patients who had told me they would like to donate for treatment of poor patients . So I spoke to them and also to my circle of friends and raised a modest amount to begin the work. The social worker helped me identify patients who needed help and I started acquiring medicines and giving it to needy patients.
As the donations and work increased we decided to formalise the group and formed Aadhar Charitable Trust and registered it in 1998. After three years of regular activity we got Income Tax exemption under section 80 G of the IT Act of 1961.
It is difficult to help everyone and so, we decided to start with children as our target group.
At first we could not approach the government hospitals as we did not have sufficient funds, but gradually by gods grace the fund has now become sufficiently stable for us to support treatment of 20-25 children per month from hospitals like Lok Nayak Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. There is an alarming increase in the number of child cancer patients, and the cost of treatment is formidable. Treatment in children goes on for a much longer time than in adults. For example in leukaemia’s it goes on for two and a half years. Besides the medicines there is requirement for repeated investigations, blood donations and surgical procedures may be needed to be done. The parents have to spend a lot of time in the hospitals and regular sources of income are often lost. Many patients are from outside Delhi. The stress both financial and emotional is terrible. At such times any help is welcome and there is at least the satisfaction of knowing there is somewhere to turn to

for help. Doctors refer patients to us with prescriptions . We acquire the medicines and confirm with the doctors that the patient has reached back with them. Follow up is done with the treating doctors. As far as possible we try to see that patients complete their treatment and they are counselled whenever needed.

Aadhar is now also actively involved in publishing books and pamphlets regarding cancer awareness and information about various types of cancer and the treatment options available. These books are distributed free of cost in hospitals to patients and their relatives and to social groups doing cancer awareness workshops.
As they say a drop on its own is nothing but it is an accumulation of multitudes of such drops which make the ocean.
Any help which can bring relief to someone in trouble is surely worthwhile and hence I appeal to all to generously donate so that we can help as many people as possible.

The other activity routinely being followed is charitable eye camps. Elderly people are unfortunately a neglected lot. We hold free camps to provide eye check-ups, and surgery for cataract and glaucoma. Lens implants for cataract patients are done free of cost. Annual eye checks are done in schools for poor children to screen out children who need further care and to detect nutritional deficiencies which may cause visual loss. Certain schools have been earmarked where annual check-ups are done.

For all these activities we need funds from generous donors. I would to appeal to all to donate generously for the activities of the fund.
All donations are strictly used for the purpose for which they are given. The work is entirely managed by volunteers.