Source: The Hindu / Mohamed Nazir
They are not just cancer survivors who have battled the disease and their worst fears about diagnosis and treatment. They also serve as counsellors who volunteer to educate the people about the importance of early detection as well as help new patients survive their agony.
The Friends for Cancer Care (FORCE) was started a decade ago under the Kannur-based Malabar Cancer Care Society (MCCS), which initiated cancer control programmes in the northern districts 27 years ago. Started as a forum for cancer survivors in the northern region of the State to discuss their issues and enable their post-treatment rehabilitation, FORCE is now reaching out to new patients.
Its motto reads ‘Don’t fear cancer; we are with you.’ The group now has a membership of 85 cancer survivors from Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Wayanad. They meet monthly at the MCCS office here for check-up, fellowship and yoga classes.
“FORCE has given cancer survivors a new lease of life as most of us who fought the disease were mentally tired during and after treatment,” said M. Narayanan, a retired teacher from Pallikkulam here, who was diagnosed with cancer in the large intestine 12 years ago. Mr. Narayanan, convener of FORCE, said having experienced the post-diagnosis fears and suffering, they were now equipped to counsel new patients.
Shobha Prakash, who runs a shop at Thottada, concurs, narrating her own experience of helping a young woman who had been diagnosed with cancer to get early treatment.
“When I told her my experience of diagnosis and treatment, my words carried some weight,” Ms. Prakash said. They meet at the MCCS’s conference hall, share their feelings and experiences and plan their counselling. “I do not discuss my health problems with my family because I don’t want to distress them,” said 53-year-old T. Premaja from Anjarakkandy here. “FORCE is where I can open my mind and discuss health issues,” she said.