If radiation and drugs can cure cancer, the battle against it has to be won with courage, belief and determination.

This was the enduring message from cancer survivors as moving life stories, moral support and words of advice were shared with patients during the celebration of Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday at the Government General Hospital under the auspices of the Department of Surgical Gastroenterology.

About 200 patients turned up to listen to the words of motivation from cancer survivors and a host of supporters, including doctors and nurses.

“There is absolutely no need to fear cancer….today there are doctors with expertise and effective drug regimens,” said Shahjahan, a cancer survivor who was also chosen as chief guest.

As Shahjahan explained to his peers the importance of mental strength, his doctor thought it fit to join in with a personal tribute.

S.M. Chandramohan, head of surgical gastroenterology, Madras Medical College, commended the exemplary courage shown by Shahjahan in coming to terms with his cancer and moving ahead in life with his wife whose name incidentally is Mumtaz.

“Why, Shahjahan could even crack a joke or two about his disease,” Dr. Chandramohan said. Other patients like Hussain showed their commitment to be at the celebration though it was barely a few weeks after undergoing a coronary bypass.

Shot of motivation

For cancer patients struggling to cope after being diagnosed with the disease, the life story of Mumtaz Chandrashekar must have been a shot of motivation. The woman, who wanted to do bachelors in law, refused to sacrifice her ambitions because she had cancer. “Believe in yourself…believe in your medicines…believe in your doctor,” she said.

Indira Jagannath, a survivor of oesophagal cancer, stressed the importance of family support in coping with the diagnosis and extended chemotherapy sessions.

Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators too chipped in words of advice. MMC Dean J. Mohanasundaram stressed the importance of early detection through tests such as breast self examination and the pap smear.

Recalling an incident where a doctor who died of cancer had pledged organs for the cause of medical science, Dr. Mohanasundaram said the act was worthy of emulation. Patients were also told about the importance of prevention and consulting a specialist if an ailment kept persisting.

For the Head Nurse at MMC, the job began with alleviating a patient's fear of cancer or its treatment modalities. Words of comfort and encouragement were as important as the prescribed drug regimen throughout a patient's hospital experience the nurse said.