Downtown

Reaching out to prevent, to treat

The objective of Penn Nalam is to save women through early detection of cancer.

Radhika Santhanakrishnan, Founder of Penn Nalam, a survivor of breast cancer herself, wanted to reach out to women who suffer in silence. Radhika says that ignorance and lack of funds have been the main culprits.

Inauguration

“Many women do not know that breast cancer and cervical cancer can be detected early. To create an awareness, I began this centre with a panel of well-trained people in the field _ Dr. Sumana Premkumar, Radiation Oncologist; Dr. Selvi Radhakrishna, Breast Oncoplastic Surgeon and Dr. Sarojini, Radiologist. The centre was inauguratged by V. K. Subburaj, and Dr. Sarojini Varadappan in August 2009.

Penn Nalam also counsels women and family members about the disease, its progress, management and prognosis and its social implications. It helps in improving quality of life in cancer-affected women, enabling them to continue with their routine activities.

Penn Nalam administers anti-cervical cancer vaccination at special rates for women who are at risk. According to Dr. Sumana the vaccine can be given to the age-group of 11-45. “Cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of the human pappilloma virus. You have a bivalent and a quadrivalent vaccine and it is the discretion of the patient to go in for what they want.”

The services offered at Penn Nalam include mammography, ultrasound, dietary advice, pap smear test and chemotherapy. The centre also offers alternative therapies and counselling for women by women.

Ms. Radhika says during counselling women are apprised about how they can reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and avoiding alcohol. The centre also explains them about the importance of breast feeding.

“Women who come to us are cautioned about weight if they are obese. One needs to be careful about post-menopausal obesity and eat healthy.”

Ms. Radhika says that dieticians also create awareness about anti-cancer foods such as bananas, carrots, figs, dates, garlic and onions. “Women have to avoid oily foods, take adequate vitamins, citrus fruits and try green tea.” She also advises women to avoid tension and stress as they can cause a lot of toxins to be released in the body.

Penn Nalam conducts camps. The centre has addressed school children, NGOs, social service organisations and colleges.

In all these places, the participants are briefed about signs and symptoms of breast and cervical cancer, how to examine one's own breast, effect of cervical cancer vaccination and the importance of women's health. There have been interactive sessions at these camps and teenagers, teachers and other participants have come up openly to clarify their doubts. Penn Nalam is located at ‘Abhinav Palace', Flat No. 2; 23, I Main Road, Jeth Nagar, Mandaveli. Ph: 2464 2656.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 11:03:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/reaching-out-to-prevent-to-treat/article3425182.ece

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