A messiah for cancer patients

Dr Chandreyee Bhattacharya is quiet and unassuming in demeanour and approach. But beneath this down-to-earth manner lies a steely determination to do something constructive for cancer patients.

She works as a busy gynaecologist at a hospital in Kolkata but all her spare time is spent making life a little easy and meaningful for victims of cancer.Chandreyee currently runs an NGO targeted at cancer patients.

Chandreyee was only around 10 years and her brother even a few years younger, when her 30 year old mother died of breast cancer. The incident left a deep impact on her mind, and consequently, when she grew up, she took to a life vowed to change and brighten the lives of cancer patients. Chandreyee sought to improve the quality of life of patients and their families, in their own homes, by trying to provide solutions to the physical and psychological problems they were suffering from. Chandreyee feels terminally-ill patients are more contented and relaxed in their homes than in the sterile environment of hospitals.

She quickly rallied together a team of three social workers and a volunteer and knocked on the doors of Calcutta Medical College’s radiotherapy department and pain clinic for assistance. Soon, she had a few patients on her hands. She and her team began to visit patients in their homes, often in far-flung areas and suburbs around Kolkata, to discuss treatment and the rationale of palliative care with the family members of the sufferers.
Chandreyee assesses patients and encourages them and their caregivers to discuss their difficulties and provides tips on how to manage pain. She and her team train the caregivers and provide bereavement counselling to the families of the patients.
Most of Chandreyee’s patients come from needy families. She recalls how her patients started to look forward to her visits. One lady, who was very depressed and morose initially, began to deck up before Chandreyee’s arrival.

Chandreyee even attended courses at the Indian Association of Palliative Care, Calicut, so that she can be better equipped to deal with her patients. She also organised a bakery carnival in 2012 to raise funds for her NGO. She received help in terms of cash, kind, and medicines from friends, relatives, colleagues, patients, and caregivers. Several caregivers have joined her team as volunteers.

Chandreyee now aspires to the take the mantle forward and touch the lives of as many cancer sufferers as possible.

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