An alliance to fight cancer

Through a wide network of volunteers and crowd-funding platforms, Sankalp Beautiful World is helping needy patients meet the high cost of treatment

June 30, 2017 05:15 pm | Updated July 06, 2018 03:56 pm IST

Volunteers of Sankalp Beautiful World took part in the recent Tamilnadu Marathon.  Photo: Special Arrangement

Volunteers of Sankalp Beautiful World took part in the recent Tamilnadu Marathon. Photo: Special Arrangement

Tamilarasi Srinivasan was in the final year of an undergraduate programme in commerce, when a swelling in her right leg turned out to be a cancerous growth. It was cancer of the bone. She had aspirations as a throwball player, and this diagnosis seemed to have brought the curtains down on what was probably a sports career in the making.

Most others in her place would have been devastated. For, this heart-breaking diagnosis was the hardest of the blows she had suffered since her early childhood. Tamilarasi lost her mother when she was in Class II.

Her father has been working as a van driver in a school and making both ends meet for her family, which includes an elder sister and grandmother. So, meeting the high cost of cancer treatment was unthinkable for 22-year-old Tamilarasi.

A relative working with the Adyar Cancer Institute helped her through her first surgery and she was able to walk without any difficulty. Tamilarasi seemed to have beaten the demon, but it returned with a vengeance a year later. Cancer was now diagnosed above the area where a plate had been fixed. More than cancer, the impossible cost of cancer treatment was weighing on her mind.

Connecting with Sankalp Beautiful World made all the difference for her. A major amount of the expenses was met by the non-governmental organisation. Tamilarasi now wears an artificial leg, which cost over ₹2 lakh. The throwball player wants to take part in paralympic games and is studying to complete her degree through distance education.

Sankalp Beautiful World helps such patients by offering them financial assistance through crowd-funding platforms.

Friends on board

Founded by Goutham Chander in December 2015, Sankalp Beautiful World is guided by a team of 21 professionals, which include doctors and academicians, and has former Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan as its chairperson.

“My colleague’s daughter, Damyta, was diagnosed with leukaemia at 3.5 years, which forced me to do something,” says 38-year-old Goutham, who has worked for well over a decade in the corporate sector.

He suggested the idea of a voluntary organisation to help cancer patients, with his friends from Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Villivakkam, which was well-received and Sankalp was born.

The start-up supports cancer patients financially through Milaap, a crowd-sourcing platform.

“We have a team that scrutinises the medical history of the patient for authenticity and posts the details on the site,” says Srividya Mahesh, co-founder.

Helping needy children with cancer is the group’s top priority, says Srividya.

Damyta was the first beneficiary of the initiative. So far, 18 cancer patients have been provided with financial, emotional and moral support; a majority of them are children.

Creating awareness

Funding is not the sole objective of this organisation, but creating awareness.

“Cancer comes in four stages and three-fourth of those with cancer receive a diagnosis when it has entered the advanced stage. Early-stage cancer is curable and does not entail high treatment costs. Spreading this message and getting people to go for early screening in the event of symptoms, is one of Sankalp’s objectives,” says Dr. Arvind Krishnamurthy, a senior oncologist, who is among the board of trustees.

Sankalp is also working closely with the Adyar Cancer Institute.

Towards its awareness-creating initiatives, Sankalp meets with tobacco sellers regularly. The drive is lead by A.E.Jagadeesan, deputy superintendent of police . It is also organising road shows and outreach programmes, sometimes through an association with other groups. Recently, it was part of the Tamilnadu Marathon, organised by the Tamilnadu Athletic Association. In August, Sankalp will be conducting a marathon to raise funds for cancer care and research.

Sankalp hopes to reach out to many people and enter the area of cancer research.

“We want volunteers to donate blood, help us conduct cancer screening or spend a few hours with cancer patients during the weekends,” says R. Vijayalakshmi, molecular oncologist with the Adyar Cancer Institute. “Only through collaborative efforts can we fight cancer effectively.”

For details, or its Facebook page sankalpbeautifulworld

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