Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Delhi day 3

Today I was back at RGCI to meet with Sita Paintal and Jyotsna Govil. Sita now heads up Cancer Sahyog, the support group for people living with cancer that Harmala founded.  All the members have had personal experiences with cancer. The group is made up of survivors and caregivers.  They are volunteer based and through their personal experiences with cancer, help patients and their caregivers deal with all aspects of their illness and give them hope.  Sita became involved in the group after being a caregiver for her sister who had cancer.  After providing loving care for 6 years, her sister lost her battle with cancer, and Sita decided to devote her life to helping people with cancer.  Unfortunately, Sita herself now has cancer.  She has chronic myelogenous leukemia, which a daily treatment of Gleevec seems to keep in check.  She has a strong, positive spirit, and her dedication to Cancer Sahyog is palpable.  She seems to be a tireless force, I will be working with her on Friday at the IRCH where they have arranged for me to interview and photograph 4-5 additional survivors, and Saturday at a Breast Cancer Survivors program at the India International Centre. I also cannot wait to shoot her will see why....

Jyotsna is the Hon. Additional Secretary to the Indian Cancer Society,  She is an absolute wealth of information!!!  She is a warm and inviting person, and I am sure she is very good at getting whatever it is the ICS needs done!  She and Sita set up Friday for me and she will be there Saturday as well.

Sita and Jyotsna introduced me to a lovely couple today, Mr. P.R. and Mrs Urmil Tandon, they both volunteer for Cancer Sahyog.  Mrs. Tandon is a 21 year survivor of bladder cancer.  Mr. Tandon was her dedicated and loving caregiver and nursed her back to health.  Then it was her turn to be Mr. Tandon's caregiver when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  They light up the room with their joy of spirit and enthusiasm!

I then had the honor to meet Anjana Bhan, and hear her incredible story of surviving an extremely rare kidney cancer,  with two additional recurrences in her lung.  After multiple surgeries,  vicious chemo and radiation, she is 7 years out from her initial diagnosis (2 from her last treatment).  She has had a very painful and difficult road, yet somehow maintains a positive, thoughtful and insightful outlook on life.  She has a deep spirituality and an open heart.  She has a very interesting perspective on her treatment as she is also a doctor.  She is a contemplative and amazing woman and I was so happy to have met her!

Tomorrow I am heading out with the CanSupport home care team, this should be an amazing experience that very few people are able to share.  I hope that I can capture some strong images for them.

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