Actor Dileep has joined the campaign for a major cancer treatment centre in the district that will ensure affordable cancer care for the poor.

On Sunday, the actor met former Supreme Court judge Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and greeted him on his 99 birthday (following the Malayalam month and star). Dileep, who incidentally celebrated his own birthday on Sunday, pledged his support for the campaign.

Dileep said the number of cancer cases was on the rise and that the disease was affecting many youngsters. The actor stressed the importance of having an international-level cancer care centre that would serve central Kerala.

He said many from his family, including his father, had fought against the disease. Witnessing the plight of many cancer patients and his social commitments as an actor had led him to give up alcohol and tobacco use in personal life. He said such concerns came up during filmmaking, but sometimes the images were necessary to make a point in the film. The actor said he never missed an opportunity to tell children about certain compulsions that come with filmmaking.

Mr. Krishna Iyer and Dileep jointly inaugurated the campaign by lighting the lamp. Mr. Iyer called for international-level cancer care facilities to keep the disease at bay.

Senior journalist Leela Menon, who had fought cancer, spoke about her journey to the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram every month for five years. “The prognosis at that time had given me six months to live,” she said. The treatment procedures were obsolete back then, but her will to fight the disease kept her going, she said.

The RCC in Thiruvananthapuram was stretching its facilities to meet the demand, said N. K. Sanil Kumar, Kochi-based urologist. He added that preventive measures needed to be stressed along with the necessity of setting up a cancer treatment centre in Kochi. Anti-tobacco campaign needed to be taken up seriously. Cancer patterns in various hospitals have shown a decrease in tobacco-related cancers over the years because of the intensive campaign. Dr. Sanil Kumar said the Chief Minister on Saturday promised to take up the issue of setting up an international-level cancer care centre in the district and also of the government takeover of Cochin Medical College.

K. R. Vishwambharan, former Vice-Chancellor of Kerala Agriculture University, said the people’s representatives from the district, while voicing their support for a cancer centre, needed to be more pro-active in their support.

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