Saturday, May 1, 2010

1 day left in India

I am really enjoying my time here, I left the hotel yesterday and have moved in with Brig. S.K. Malhotra, who is a long time friend of my dear friends Jean and John Everett.  He has kindly taken me into his lovely home.  We had dinner last night at his club with his beautiful family....they were having a birthday party and very graciously included me.  Everyone here has been so generous, kind and incredibly hospitable. I really cannot wait to come back!

Friday I spent the day visiting the AIIMS government hospital, a huge complex of hospitals, I mean really huge.  I will NEVER complain about waiting to see a doctor again.  I can't possibly describe the conditions. Thousands of people waiting, spilling out onto the sidewalks and grounds.  I felt that it was inappropriate to photograph there, there were far too many people really suffering and I did not want them to feel any more uncomfortable than they were.  I was in the cancer hospital with a group of women from Cancer Sahyog.  This is one of the many places that they volunteer offering their support and advice to cancer patients.  I was introduced to two amazing women cancer survivors there.

The first thing you notice about Usha Ohri is her kind and warm spirit, it feels as if you have always known her.  She was a widow with an 11 year old daughter and diagnosed with stage 4 acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her in-laws had thrown her and her daughter out after her husband died, and her daughter was 2, if she had a son, things would have been different.  She fought for 4 years, receiving endless rounds of chemo, radiation to the brain and spine, she could not eat or speak for months on end.  She had nothing, no money, no family.  Her mother refused to allow her brother to donate his bone marrow to her, because he was more important than Usha.  But she did have faith in life and in herself.  She kept fighting for her daughter, she endured everything for her.  The government came to her rescue and sent her to America for a bone marrow transplant.  This was the last treatment she could have, she put her fate into God's hands, and the treatment worked.  She is now 63 and she considers herself very lucky to have had cancer, it has given her a higher purpose.  She devotes her life to helping others with cancer.  She tirelessly works for her "family"Cancer Sahyog, the Indian Cancer Society and CanKids...KidsCan.

It would be impossible to ignore Poonam Bagai in any situation, first of all, she wouldn't let you.  And it is just this aspect of her personality that has helped her to create a most amazing organization,  CanKids...Kidscan   She was diagnosed in 2000 at age 38 with colon cancer.  She was married with 2 young sons and living in Poland.  She endured 3 major surgeries, a colostomy, 9 rounds of chemo, a reverse colostomy, and severe depression.  She is a big believer that things happen for a reason, that you have to go through everything to get where you are now, "mantre ucharan", that everything leads to one point.  She moved back to India and decided that she really wanted to do something to help other people.  She started to volunteer with ICS and Cancer Sahyog.  She decided that she really wanted to help children and their families, and created CanKids.   Her passion and determination are infectious and have made it into an extremely successful organization.  I was lucky enough to meet some of the brave and beautiful children they help.

Here are three very brave young men, Sonu and Chandon are both survivors of leukemia, they endured 3 years of chemo and now they are volunteering at CanKids to help other children and their families.  Shashank has brain cancer, has had surgery and has just finished his second round of chemo.  Before he got cancer he wanted to join the army when he grew up, now he wants to become a doctor.



  1. Wow such incredible stories-

  2. Poonam Bagai is an amazing lady. May God bless her and Cankids ... Kidscan