BENGALURU: Seated in a circle, a group of fifteen people speak about the impact that cancer has had in their lives at Lahe Lahe recently. “My father’s brother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer some months ago, and we were informed that he has a very short time to live and I had to reveal the news to his daughter. It is tough for everyone involved,” said Harish Bhuvan, the host of the circle.
The first session of its kind happened in April this year, and subsequently Talk Your Heart Out has provided opportunity for people whose lives have been touched by the disease to share their experiences, listen to others, and give each other a chance to provide support to process the rapid changes in their lives. “I have had a very fulfilling experience in the circle. At the end of each session, I feel light,” he added.
Rihanth Ernes, a professional who provides care for cancer patients recounted one of his experiences. “A seventeen-year-old girl’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and HIV at the same time. Doctors said there was no treatment available, and the girl had to manage the care, looking after her sister and her own education and work. It was like the tough time that I went through when I lost my mother in my teenage years,” he said.
It is really about creating a sense of community as cancer can be an isolating experience, according to Bhuvan. “The circle gives me a strength to back and experience things,” he said. Several people in the group discussed how such safe spaces are essential for caregivers as burnout is common.
Rashie Jain, the CEO and co-founder of Onco.com, an online service that provides advice to patients and their families about potential avenues for treatment, and which hosted the circle, said, “In India there is a big taboo attached to cancer, there was no space for listening to people who have been on the same journey. Talk Your Heart Out has been our effort to help these people establish a sense of community.” She added that the group comes together twice a month, and anybody is welcome to attend a session after registering on event listing platforms.