Writeshop facilitates collective construction of commitments

The Directors and point persons from 27 Diocesan Social Service Societies across Tamil Nadu gathered at TASOSS, Trichy on the 12th and 13th of December, 2019 for the writeshop to formulate programme for Cancer Care Campaign. This two days reflective session to finalise the programme interventions for the next 18 months was inaugurated by Most.Rev.Thomas Aquinas, Chairman of TASOSS. He said “We need to work in a collaborative mode to address this disease and sensitisation of the younger generation is of utmost importance. Diocesan Social Service Societies can play a significant role and we need to take extra efforts in preventing as well as reducing the miseries of cancer affected.”

The cancer burden in India is already high and is expected to rise even more with increasing life expectancy and changes in lifestyles associated with economic development. There are numerous non-health related factors that affect health outcomes, necessitating complex cross-sector approaches.  Next to hospital and treatment costs cancer patients are worried about ‘additional baggage’ (family’s livelihood and future) they have to carry with tension, anxiety, loss of hope, frustration, and helplessness.

In a population of 1.354 billion (2018), 1157294 new cases of cancer in a year are negligible but at the same time, this number gains significance when 784821 died due to cancer in the same year bringing the mortality rate of cancer affected to 67.81%. An estimated 2.25 million people are living with the disease which is a great concern.

Dr. Priya from the Department of Radiation Oncology, CBCC Centre, Trichy dealt on the theme:  Insights on Cancer awareness and sensitization on the issue and the need for change in lifestyle. She said that nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented if a woman is screened regularly. People led initiatives for cancer awareness can be promoted by engaging Cancer Survivors, family, members of Cancer Survivors,  College, and School teachers and students,  children,  general public and  Rehabilitators and Rehabilitated individuals.

Developing volunteering engagement for the cancer awareness campaign includes create a team,  scheduling timetable for the team, allotting team member for campaigning, screening, treating and palliating patients, involving the team in raising funds for cancer patients,  Keeping good and friendly atmosphere within the volunteers and maintain and sustaining the good work. Promoting good health practices, documenting the change and disseminating them for awareness creation will create better impacts.

“Family  history of cancer, age, gender, race, and genetics  are the  cancer  risk factors that cannot be changed but whereas  other risk factors like use of cigarette and other tobacco products, diet obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol use, sun exposure can be changed”

Dr.K.N.Srinivasan, Radiation oncologist said that cancer the 3rd largest killer disease has got documented proof in the pyramid system and in today’s context no patient should be deprived of their life due to lack of financial sources. He also advised the participants to create awareness among the children and youth so that they say ‘ no first time’ every time to any bad habits.

He continued saying that cancer is preventable through improved lifestyle and diet. It is curable if detected early and treated promptly and is treatable at any stage. Repetition is the key element in sensitising people to identify the risks in their lifestyle, adopt lifestyle changes and maintain lifestyle changes for a cancer-free life.

The inputs by the resource persons and practitioners led the participants to further reflections, discussions and finetune their project proposals with the facilitation of Dr. John Arokiaraj, Manager, Caritas India. This project aims at creating an overall impact of ‘Ensuring community-driven cancer care for the wellbeing of people in Tamil Nadu’. Public awareness on the causes and consequences of cancer changed the mindset of the community leading to a healthy life, promotion of eco-friendly land and water initiatives by the community and caring community takin care of the access to health services are the outcomes envisaged through this initiative.

“The writeshop has paved way for envisioning cancer-free society through the concerted efforts of  Tamil Nadu Church actors working in unison with well-defined strategies through volunteer movement,” said Fr.Albert Thambidurai, Director of TASOSS. The participants were unanimous in saying the development Policy has to realize the urgency of health for all which is an indicator of development wherein poor health is seen as an obstacle to development.