Indian Cancer Society’s six decades of pioneering work on cancer
The ICS was founded in 1951 by Dr Darab Jussawala, a medical-surgical oncologist and then director of TMC, with two main objectives — early cancer screening and better awareness about the disease in the countrymumbai Updated: Apr 21, 2017 11:33 IST
Around six decades ago, when India did not have access to the latest cancer treatment method — chemotherapy — the Indian Cancer Society (ICS) was the first to institutionalise a chemotherapy unit at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in 1956 .
“Chemotherapy, a novel treatment back then, was introduced in India by the ICS, with the vision of treating cancer patients, who had no other hope of cure,” said Dr Anita Borges, a trustee of the NGO.
The ICS was founded in 1951 by Dr Darab Jussawala, a medical-surgical oncologist and then director of TMC, with two main objectives — early cancer screening and better awareness about the disease in the country.
“Dr Jussawala wanted Indians to be better aware of some of the tell-tale symptoms of cancer, such as bleeding of the gum, wounds that don’t heal and white patches on the body. The ICS was instrumental in creating awareness about a disease which Indians hardly knew of,” Borges added.
Over the years, ICS’s work has grown to encompass all needs of cancer patients. The organisation now provides financial help to patients and rehabilitates cancer survivors by helping them develop crafts like tailoring, mat making, bag making, and printing.
“Although the ICS is headquartered in Mumbai, it has centres all across India. The organisation’s multi- faceted portfolio of activities in the cancer care space is uniquely positioned, to play a key role in the management of cancer in the country,” said Sheila Nair, director general, ICS.
As the ICS celebrates its 66th anniversary on April 22, HT spoke to a family of a cancer patient, who was treated with the help of ICS.
Sayeda Parray, 50, a homemaker who lives in Ganderbal district in Jammu and Kashmir, was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. While she is now a proud survivor, her family said they had once considered abandoning her treatment because of the expenses. “My mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The chemotherapy cost us Rs6,000 per cycle which she had to get four times a month. Soon after she was advised to undergo a bone marrow transplant, which was an additional Rs 4 lakh,” said her 30-year-old son Arshid Ahmed Parray.
“Back in 2014, my father was the only working member of our family. He worked as a labourer and earned daily wages which supported my family of four. There was no way we could have afforded the treatment without ICS’ help,” he added.