Hope Never Dies
Rahul Yadav may have died young but his NGO, Yoddhas, ensures that no cancer patient has to fight it out alone.By Sumi Thomas
When one is young, brimming with plans and hope, and settling into domestic bliss, death is a mere blip on the horizon, to be worried about when one is tottering-old. Mortality is an issue that one doesn’t bother about until Fate throws a spanner in the works. For Rahul Yadav, finding out that he had plasma cell leukemia, an aggressive form of multiple myeloma, at the age of 28 turned out to be the proverbial spanner. Yadav bravely battled the rare, incurable cancer for four years, celebrating each tiny victory over the disease, until he passed away in June 2017. But he was determined to make a difference before he died, and he did just that by setting up Yoddhas, an NGO that looks at empowering the cancer-stricken community and being a patientto- patient support group.
“Getting A Cancer Diagnosis Is Truly Unfortunate But We Don’t Require Pity Or Judgement. What We Really Need Is Support To Battle This Disease.”Rahul Yadav, Founder, Yoddhas
Yadav was inspired to set up the NGO when he realized that it was next to impossible to find a forum where he could get support from people going through the same situation as he was. “One thing that was really frustrating was how difficult it was to find people who could empathize with me,” said Yadav, in an interview a few years ago. “Getting a cancer diagnosis is truly unfortunate but we don’t require pity or judgment. What we really need is a support to battle this disease.” Yadav, who had been working at HCL Technologies, was all ready to take up a new job at French investment bank Société Générale when the diagnosis disrupted his life. What started out as a slight cold and cough soon turned into a nightmare that would change the course of his life, and that of everyone around him. What made matters worse was that Yadav had also just wed his childhood sweetheart, Rashi, and the couple was planning a trip to the Andamans at the time. The couple moved to Delhi for treatment.
One of the primary five-year objectives of Yoddhas, apart from spreading awareness about cancer prevention and fundraising for cancer patients, is to get more people to register for stem cell donation as this could save the lives of hundreds of blood cancer patients.
Yadav always saw himself as a warrior in the fight against cancer, and that is why he chose the name Yoddhas (warriors) when he launched his cancer support network in 2014. “He believed the name was a true representation of every cancer patient/ survivor,” says Rashi.“He or she is a true fighter and just needs a little support from all of us. Rahul made it his life’s mission to make the fight easier for every ‘Indian Fighting Against Cancer’. Yoddhas was awarded by UNESCO in Berlin, Germany, in 2014. Yoddhas has tied up with many colleges where students come forward to spread awareness and work as volunteers.” The NGO connects those affected by multiple myeloma and other cancers through its website, Facebook page, and WhatsApp groups. Eventually, participants choose to call each other or meet in person to offer support. “We had a recent event where we connected more than 150 multiple myeloma patients and caregivers with doctors from different hospitals,” says Rashi.“In the coming year, we plan to reach out to more schools to spread awareness. We also have patient support meetings to connect with more patients.”
The NGO is now being ably managed by Rashi, Rahul’s father and a team of advisors and volunteers. One of the primary five-year objectives of Yoddhas, apart from spreading awareness about cancer prevention and fundraising for cancer patients, is to get more people to register for stem cell donation as this could save the lives of hundreds of blood cancer patients. Over 400 patients, survivors, and caregivers are being supported every day through the Yoddhas platform, by being connected to the right doctors. The NGO seems to be well on its way to achieving its vision: of becoming “the trusted source of information and support for anyone dealing with cancer in India”.