CHENNAI: After defeating cancer, she decided to run marathons. Vijayalakshmi Chandrashekar (66) is a two-time marathon runner, a retired teacher of Kendriya Vidyalaya, a yoga practitioner and a survivor of cancer. “Cancer! You dare not go beyond me!” exclaimed Vijayalakshmi Chandrashekar on stage.
“With that motto in head, I battled cancer head-on,” she said speaking at the ‘Annual Reunion Day’ of Cancer Institute (WIA) which brought together hundreds cancer patients, survivors and care-givers.
Listening to her were not only other survivors, but victims fighting several stages of cancer.
Upon knowing that one has cancer, Vijayalakshmi said that the anxiety and depression one goes through kill patients more than the disease itself.
“What got me through was the hope that my children gave me and the message I want to give all care-givers is that cancer is curable and more easily so if you fight it with the full co-operation,” she said.
The stigma attached to the disease adds to the trauma, said Dr Shantha adding that cancer is not as lethal anymore.
“We have better treatment now and with several forms of treatment, cancer is curable or at can at least be treated,” she said speaking to Express on the sidelines of the event.
The Cancer Institute (WIA) also has a psycho oncology department that offers counselling and psychological help for cancer patients who face mental distress.
Chandrasekaran A, another survivor in his sixties, said that he lost hope when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
However, after being operated in a private hospital, he moved to Cancer Institute for radiation therapy.
“After my colleague’s seven-year-old daughter was cured of her disease by the Institute, I decided to come here,” he said.
“The key to my complete healing was following up with regular check-ups. It not only kept my health stable, but also gave me mental reassurance,” he added.
“While the approach to dealing with cancer must change, we must also fight all preventable forms of cancer,” said Keshav Desiraju, an Indian Administrative Service officer, who was the former Union health secretary with the government of India.
“The number of teenagers who become addicted to tobacco has not really gone down in our country,” he said, addressing the gathering.
He added that general awareness of cancer would help reduce the disease burden.
The Cancer Institute (WIA) is a cancer specialty hospital that is a public charitable body and voluntary hospital dedicated to cancer care for past 60 years.
Around 70 per cent of patients are treated for free at the hospital.