'Cancer survivors are full of life'

Back in 1984 when Jyotsna Govil’s father was diagnosed with cancer, it came as a shock to her. During the radiation sessions, she had regular discussions with Dr D J Jussawalla (founder of Indian Cancer Society (ICS)) about “cancer control” and the unequivocal importance of the voice of survivors.

Later when she joined the Delhi branch of the society and came in touch with its emotional support group — Cancer Sahyog in 1991, she realised how survivors can be caregivers.

“With a diagnosis of cancer, the emotional toll on patient and family demands an additional support system which offers information and understanding. Cancer survivors are best placed to offer encouragement and hope to those newly diagnosed and under treatment for cancer,” says Govil, secretary of Delhi branch of Indian Cancer Society. The 74-year-old adds, “None of them are trained counsellors. But it is about sharing their experiences, their struggles and their indomitable fight against the disease.”

To laud the efforts of the survivors, the society recently celebrated its silver jubilee where doctors and cancer survivors performed nukkad natak, Rajasthani folk dance, ramp walks, Bhangra and free style dancing at Palika Park, Connaught Place.

“This is an annual celebration of life after cancer. The day was paused to honour everyone who is living with a record of cancer; as we believe, ‘a survivor is anyone living with a history of cancer — from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life’. It was an opportunity for cancer survivors to connect with other survivors, celebrate milestones, and recognise the healthcare providers, family, and friends who have supported them along the way,” says Govil.

On the variety of performances, she tells Metrolife, “When the idea (to perform) was put forward, all of them agreed at once. That is why it was two hours of pure joie de vivre — no talk of disease or death; just music and dance.”

While Govil believes that survivors are a “blessing”, she says people, especially women need to become aware.

“Honestly, people think cancer means death. But the survivors have shown otherwise. Cancer survivors are full of life. What is required is early detection and screening. Many people especially women shy away or ignore early symptoms which proves fatal. That is why I appeal to all to be aware and seek necessary advice on time,” she says.


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