Run ‘Canserve’ Run, the Spice Coast Marathon is On.

Good Attendance Team Canserve.

Together for a significant cause

‘Running for Good Health’

‘Running away from Cancer’

Advertisements

Ending Pregnancy to battle Cancer!Why we need to rethink

Elizabeth Varghese [ name changed] has been married for three years. As she says, life was at its best without too many twists and turns. And then she became pregnant.  A double dose of happiness surrounded her family when the doctor said, Elizebeth was expecting twins.

As the couple started their preparations to welcome the babies, Elizabeth also happened to feel a lump in her right breast. The days passed by, the lump grew bigger in size. During the third month of pregnancy they decided to do an ultra scan with the doctor’s consent. When the results came, they were informed, it was only a fibroadenoma and suggested further testing.

Happy days passed by. Then, on a Christmas morning Elizabeth experienced severe vaginal bleeding and was hospitalised for a week after which she was advised complete bed rest. During those days of hospital admission, Elizabeth also underwent an FNAC [ fine-needle aspiration cytology] of the lump. The result came out as a benign lesion and the increase in size was attributed to pregnancy related hormonal changes.

While the trouble-free days came back, the lump kept growing in size. By then Elizabeth had decided to take a second opinion to reassure her safety as well as her babies’. The results were shocking. She was detected with a grade 3 malignancy. Such catastrophe at the age of 26 shattered Elizabeth’s beautiful dream of delivering her twins.

Many questions were raised, won’t the Cancer spread to the babies? Will Elizabeth be able to breastfeed her twins? How risky is chemotherapy and surgery? What is the best way to go about this pregnancy?

This is where we need to rethink.

Research throws light on the misconception of a pregnant mother suffering from Cancer, passing on her Cancerous cells to the child. It is not true. A mother can rarely pass on her disease to the baby. The affected cells will not get in the way of  breast-feeding too.

Feeding reminds us of one of the most common cancer complicating a beautiful pregnancy, the Breast Cancer. Many pregnant women take time to find out as they attribute the bodily changes to hormonal variations during this period of life. It is only when they go to a doctor for regular check up, the gynecologist fears a malignancy and calls for further investigations. Once the doctor identifies it, families panic and make up their mind to end pregnancy without proper consultation. By now, they are convinced, they have to let go for the sake of the child’s and the mother’s health. Right here is the perfect time to break away from the myths and face a brighter reality.

Once diagnosed with Cancer during pregnancy, the treatment can be complicated than usual, as doctors aim at giving the best care for the mother as well as the baby. There is no compromise to their precious life, the goal being to cure the disease. But the method rests on various factors like

  • Tumor size
  • how far the patient has come in her Pregnancy
  • how much has it spread
  • the over all health of the patient

When the doctors are ready, the Obstetrician works with the Oncologist and a Counselor [ an added advantage for the patient] to decide on the treatment methods. For Breast Cancer, apart from Chemotherapy there are options like Hormone therapy, Targeted therapy and so on.

Mastectomy or removal of the entire breast is generally a choice doctors keep in front of  pregnant women. Breast conserving surgery  [BCS]  normally requires radiation after the surgery. With a baby in the womb, radiation is not safe as the therapy uses high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. Also in many cases if women are diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the early weeks of their pregnancy,  doctors advice them to end it as the first trimester experiences the growth of vital organs of the fetus. A chemo or any form of therapy is a risky proposition during this time. A full-fledged chemotherapy after 34 weeks into the pregnancy is also not recommended for the patient.

Here Elizabeth had one of the toughest battles in front of her –  to protect her babies from the side effects of the treatment and to find her way out of the deadly Cancer. Her husband and their family stood behind Elizebeth like soldiers in war, ready to be the helping hands, throughout the treatment and there after. So, after a few days of sadness and depression, Elizebeth got up, ready to face the unexpected challenges troubling her since pregnancy.  Her initial fears were removed by the doctors. Their reassurance gave her confidence and hope. Elizabeth had to take the same treatment any Cancer patient underwent and the doctors told her, it will in no way harm the babies’ health.

They started with a 4 course chemotherapy before delivery and 4 courses afterwards, the surgery was posted along with the Caesarian session. Once the treatment began, Elizabeth was more at ease. She said, ” If God is taking us through a challenge, he will also give the strength to overcome it if we start holding his hand. The days were spent with prayers, good thoughts and a healthy diet. Sometimes we are able to overcome our fear or anxiety by talking to our dear ones. Positive thinking also helps. We can win this battle and lead a normal life once we chuck Cancer from our body and mind. We should be strong enough to face it, battle it and kill it.”

For Elizabeth, the adverse effects of chemotherapy were not much other than hair fall and tiredness to some extent. The things that she dreaded about like losing hair or removal of the breast in surgery became much easier for her once it happened, By then Elizabeth realised, the life you get back is more precious than the little things one loses on the way.

As she puts it, ” On holding my perfectly healthy babies in my arms, I feel like the losses I had due to Cancer is nothing compared to the blessing I got after that – the two little angels from heaven. Support and care given by family is the one reason i was able to survive this period of difficulty. We used to pray as a family by holding hands and reading bible verses, especially psalms 91 and 69 which ensured us the protection of our lord. The doctors and nurses were also very caring and always received us with a smile. They helped us to understand the method we should follow during the treatment which made everything easier for us.”

After the hurdles throughout her pregnancy, Elizabeth is now the proud mother of two healthy babies. She however plans on  leading from the front by helping women who go through similar situations and who need a lot of strength and support to say YES to the treatment during pregnancy.

Finally as young women ask, are the child-bearing years of women completely risk-free from Cancer? Absolutely not. Women of all ages are equally at the risk of this deadly disease. And sometimes it is pregnancies which help them diagnose, they have cancer. Doctors believe, the number of women diagnosed with Cancer will increase as more women wait till they are older to have children. The risk of getting Cancer goes up with age. Some of the common cancers diagnosed during pregnancy are

  • Ovarian
  • Cervical
  • Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Leukemia

Research is still ongoing in this particular field where new methods of treatment are being charted out to make it even more risk free for the mother as well as the fetus. From the earlier times when termination was the first option for pregnant women suffering from Cancer, the treatments in this particular field has come a long way. As science progress for the welfare of the mother and her child, there are certain places a woman can have her say and guard oneself against this deadly disease.

  • Regular check ups, before and after the child-bearing stage
  • Early pregnancy rather than a late one
  • Being conscious of your body and observing any unusual changes
  • Avoiding unhealthy weight gain
  • Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes

Together we can take control over a disease which has disrupted the balance of our well-being. And as far as myths are concerned, we need to talk less and act more to bring in positive changes to the society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Walkathons n’ Marathons combat Cancer

 

Certainly, we can treat it like a new medicine on the block. It disturbs the sedentary lifestyles of people and pushes them to move their body. And it goes without saying, there is a wave of wanting to be ‘health conscious’ in this fast paced journey towards innumerable complex illnesses.   

When Canserve started with their awareness campaigns, none of us primarily took to involving good habits and exercise tips into our programs. It was mainly based on healthy foods for cancer – prevention and good after care for speedy recovery. But it didnt take Canserve too much time to get the grip, as we summed up that a lot of people who came for treatment were not inclined to any work out regime. what lacked is what showed on many patients.

We took it up from there and decided to associate ourselves with events in the line of Pinkathon, a  movement carried forward by women who share the belief of a healthy family being a happy one. 

Our first attempt was the  ‘Run Kerala Run’ event organised by the government. It was our first step towards promoting ‘exercise’ as a valiant tool against the rise of Cancer. From there Canserve has been a soulful member in such life changing activities.

 

Walk with Canserve (6-08-2015,Kochi)

Media called the Walkathon organised by The Canserve Charitable Society as a seed of Change. A lot of people gathered in the Durbar hall grounds to participate in one of the first ever walkathons planned by a ‘cancer support group’.  Actress Sai Pallavi of the ‘Premam’ fame and Indian cricketer Sreesanth joined us to encourage the ‘enthusiastic crowd’. With doctors, patients and people from all streams of life participating, ‘Walk with Canserve’ turned out to be a very popular event of the year. Not only did people enjoy the morning walk, they also took a pledge to try and walk in the mornings to come.

 

IDBI Federal Insurance Spice Coast Marathon, 2016

People let their spirits free during the prestigious Spice Coast marathon which took place in Kochi. Canserve joined the unforgettable running experience which brought together men and women from all over the country. It was our bravest attempt to bring out people from their comfort zone to take part in the marathon. Pledging solidarity to the cause of a ‘healthy family’, some members completed the half marathon where as the rest finished the family race with a lot of enthusiasm. That Sunday was crucial for us as it stood as the stepping stone for many beginners who later went on to pick up walking or running as an essential activity of their day.

idbi marathon 2
The Runners and their medals

World Cancer day 2016, Walkathon  

Along with the department of Oncology, Amritha hospital Canserve organised  a walkathon on account of World Cancer day. Various hospital authorities, members of Canserve and the people of Kochi participated in the Walkathon marking its significance on a day that focuses on the problems and needs of cancer patients. The Walkathon was followed by various cancer awareness programs at the Amritha hospital.

 

The Canserve charitable society prefers to involve itself in many such outdooor activities if it helps each of us to keep our general health under check. We do not intend to restrict ourselves as a support team. Instead, we aspire to be useful in every possible way so that we can fight Cancer from all ends and put a stop to it. If Walkathons are one of the solutions to leave behind Cancer, we are up for it and will organise many more of such events. Till then, it is the medals we hold on to, the medals you gave us in the form of participation and made our Walkathons one of the most successful events in Kochi city.

 

 

 

 

 

        

Music therapy enriches Cancer patients 

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why K.S.Chitra, the nightingale of the south took part in a charity event organised by Canserve . ‘The Canserve Symphony’ -an evening of music and melody dedicated to cancer patients and doctors who deserved a break from the routine.

K S Chitra’s presence in the podium and her melodious voice took the night to a higher pitch of glory. Truly, an honour for Canserve when she agreed to be the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ of our charity organisation devoted to the cancer patients in need.

Coming back to Music therapy, it is a key therapeutic tool used along with medical treatments in various well known cancer centres all over the world. The boundless impact of music on the emotional well being of cancer patients undergoing treatment is highly satisfactory.

However there is no evidence to prove that cancer – cure is possible with music and its components. Yet researchers have noticed how holding on to various sounds in music can aid a patients’ speedy recovery. 

Take the case of Kala Joymon,  President of Canserve charitable society. While she was undergoing treatment, Kala Joymon would religiously listen to her favourite songs throughout the day. She speaks of songs like Rajahamsame…and  Sagarangale…( Malayalam language ) as ‘life savers’ which added fuel to her extremely tired body. “These songs and many more of them distracted me from pains and aches, soothed me while I was depressed and held me together during my mood swings”. Her story is a perfect example of how one can cope with stress more effectively during the unpleasant treatment days. 

The hospitals encouraging Music therapy adhere to specific plans. 

They usually
1. Make patients listen to music
2. Encourage them to sing along
3. Write lyrics
4.  Appoint music teachers

It is a much desired channel to vent out anxiety and stress. Various sickness related symptoms, side effects during treatment and emotional distress have been naturalised with efficient music therapy. In today’s world we cannot easily boast about the extent of its positive influence. But, we can help patients by creating an awareness about this particular form of therapy and guide them to try it out during their course of treatment. 

At Canserve, there is an urgency to experiment with such therapies as we are in a hurry to save as many lives as we can.

With the musical.concert titled ‘The Canserve Symphony’ , our efforts were to bring people closer to music and who else but the nightingale of south India K S Chitra- to unveil our aspirations in reaching more cancer patients with useful therapeutic methods. 

It was one evening of musical extravaganza and artists like Roopa Revathi, Naushad and the entire orchestra team behind K S Chitra set the stage for a memorable event. And so it did take us to rhythms and beats which added melancholy to our passionate heart beats. If music cannot heal, it will still take us through the right path of healing. And yes, it matters in this populous world surrounded by Cancer. 

Why Canserve ? 

 When you are sick, you visit a doctor. When you need medicines, you go to a pharmacy. When you need support and strength you must think ‘Canserve’.

At the Canserve charitable society office in Kochi, a group of women (cancer survivors ) get together over a cup of tea. In their middle ages, none of them seem to age under the burden of a stressful life. They chat, play pranks, pull each others’ legs and hug with a lot of love. Half an hour chit-chat with them boosts ones energy levels and enthusiasm. 

Gratitude to Canserve, these ordinary women have evolved into extraordinary people. Once they were doomed to be the  lonely, depressive cancer patients without any bright hopes for their future. But these brave women chose to differ. They stood tall during the testing times and reincarnated as ‘happy survivors of hopeless cancer’. Today they gleam under the radiance of the bracing sun.

During their difficult phase it was a group of doctors who supported them as pillars of undying hope. Not just that, they brought these strong women under one roof, for a greater cause , Canserve – to help patients fight cancer effecitvely with continous support. 

Having gone through the trauma of this ‘life – threatening’ disease themselves, it was easier for them to embrace the idea and work towards promoting cancer awareness amongst the crowd.

It goes without saying that Canserve is second home to the survivors and its volunteers. It is a happy space to share thoughts about the disease and strengthen ones outlook towards the tough challenges which lies ahead. 

Any patient is welcome without producing his/her family background or religious inclinations. At Canserve they work selflessly to serve humanity. With kind words, sound suggestions and possible financial aid, the patients are comforted in every positive way. If you happen to be in the midst of these members for a while, you will find it difficult to leave them behind. Their inspiring words  grow on you like ever lasting quotes. 

Why not Canserve is the question then. It is a marvellous opportunity for you to do your bit for the society. If Canserve is your choice, there is a definite gurantee that the cancer patients will not fight cancer alone.

Together we can contribute to cancer- care. Awareness campaigns, hair donations, patient rehabilitation, platelet requirements, prosthetic needs are the basic demands Canserve deals with on a daily basis. Sometimes patients need a little more than what we can provide them, that’s when we look out for financial assistance to help the patients complete their course of treatment. 

It has been a journey of enlightenment for them, says the Canserve members. Selfless service is the key and the result is contentment. Lets begin.