Medicine and literature rarely go together, but in the case of the Karnataka Cancer Society, perhaps it’s all for the best that they did. Writer turned medical practitioner M. Shivaram — popularly known as Rashi, who contributed to the Kannada literary field by starting a humour magazine, Koravanji, and authored several books — was inspired by dramatist T.P. Kailasam to serve society through medicine. He eventually went on to form the Karnataka Cancer Society 44 years ago.
Spurred by his experience at St. Martha’s Hospital for over 20 years and concern for cancer patients, particularly those from rural areas, Dr. Shivaram set up the society in 1968, along with friends. At the time, the State-run Victoria Hospital was the only one with a cancer treatment facility. For further treatment, cancer patients would have to travel either to Mumbai or Vellore.
Dr. Shivaram and his team, who believed in the maxim, ‘Prevention is better than cure’, initially toured rural areas around Bangalore holding cancer awareness camps. Their efforts resulted in the society expanding its services to cancer detection and treatment camps across the State. The society set up an office and clinic on 11th Cross, Vyalikaval, and now has over 1,400 members including doctors, philanthropists, businessmen and volunteers.
It organises cancer awareness lectures and holds free cancer detection camps. It also runs a free outpatient clinic, and arranges MRI and CT scans at different cancer hospitals and provides drugs to patients at subsidised rates.
Chairman of the society’s medical sub-committee C.K.A.N. Sastry says two cancer detection camps — one each in urban and rural areas — are held every month. “Of every 500 people who undergo screening at our camps, at least 5 per cent are suspected to have cancer, and of them, 3 to 5 per cent will have cancer. We provide them with treatment and medicines. In some cases, we also refer them to other speciality hospitals to ensure the patients are treated at the least cost,” he says.
Being a non-governmental organisation, the society depends upon donors for all its activities. The Karnataka Cancer Society can be reached on 080-2356152 or 23448534.