Beyond Money
Sentinel of Hope for Cancer Patients

Deepsikha Foundation tries to bring back the lost smile to those bravehearts who are battling cancer

 

Deepsikha Cancer Care Foundation is a non-profit voluntary organisation that works exclusively for the care of cancer patients to add meaning to their lives. From providing accommodation, to finding a proper place to stay during the process of registration in the hospitals, to arranging meetings with the respective doctors and getting treatment, to acquiring blood (in case of an operation), to getting financial assistance, are various stages through which patients are guided and helped.
 
It all started with Devasish Sharma (founder chairman of Deepsikha) being moved by the plight of cancer patients, and their families, mainly due to lack of awareness about the disease. He started by conducting awareness camps in villages of the north-eastern states with a small band of musicians and health workers. His dedicated efforts blossomed into an organisation called Deepsikha which provides hope for cancer patients. Deepsikha started in Ambikagiri Nagar (Guwahati, Assam); it also has a facility at Koparkhairane in Maharashtra.
 
Cancer is largely a lifestyle disease. Prudent modification in lifestyle, regular exercise and saying NO to tobacco go a long way in reducing the cancer burden. Cancer is potentially curable in early stages. Even in advanced stages, when cancer may be difficult to cure, patients can be given useful and good quality life. “Spreading cancer awareness is important to remove misconceptions among people. We conduct mass awareness programmes in remote villages, schools, colleges, clubs, corporate officers, factories, etc,” points out a senior employee at Deepsikha in Navi Mumbai. Qualified professional counsellors provide the much-needed emotional support to all cancer patients and their families who approach Deepsikha. Deepsikha can accommodate nearly 200 people (patients and attendants) at any given point of time in Navi Mumbai. The NGO provides subsidised/free transportation for patients to Tata Memorial Hospital (Parel, mid-town Mumbai) and back to its bhawans at a nominal cost. It receives patients from railway stations and airports and drops them back when they return home.
 
On the other facilities provided by Deepsikha, a senior employee says, “We have ambulances parked in our bhawans to meet any emergency. We have a pool of willing donors for blood, platelets and plasma, for our patients whenever they are in need. We organise entertainment programmes for patients to cheer them up and stay healthy. We provide possible financial assistance to patients after their current financial status is verified.”
 
Future plans of Deepsikha include: 
a) setting up a lab where it can provide low-cost diagnosis for all cancer-related issues; 
b) creating a volunteer force in vernacular languages to generate cancer awareness; 
c) setting up a hospice for cancer patients (under construction) at two places; and 
d) establishing a home and school for cancer-afflicted children while they are undergoing treatment (also under construction).
 
For those who trace Deepsikha to its roots in Guwahati, The Assam Tribune reported, on 9 August 2014, “Eminent oncologist Dr Tapan Kumar Saikia received the journalist Kamala Saikia Memorial National Award instituted in the memory of martyred journalist and freedom fighter Kamala Saikia, on the occasion of his 23rd death anniversary today. Dr Saikia is a renowned name worldwide in the field of cancer treatment and research… Lauding the role of the Deepsikha in helping cancer patients, he donated his cash award to the Foundation, which was received by chairman Devasish Sharma.”
 
Donations to Deepsikha are exempt under Section 80 (G) of the Income Tax Act 1961. Cheques/DDs should be drawn in favour of ‘Deepsikha’ payable at Mumbai. 
 

 

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