Type to search

Spreading Cheer

Health and Wellness Health trends Innovation Inspiration January 2018 NGO Patient Care Supportive Care

Spreading Cheer

How a cancer survivor and his wife are making a difference through their NGO that gives out free prosthetic bras to breast cancer survivors

By Varsha Vinod Menon

Kavita and Arun Gupta, the couple behind Win Over Cancer, a non-profit initiative that assists cancer patients and their families, have been making news for all the right reasons. Win Over Cancer had its beginnings in the couple’s sheer resolve to better the lives of cancer patients; what makes the story even more impactful is that the organization was born while Arun was undergoing treatment for leukemia. Started in 2011, the NGO gives out free prosthetic bras to breast cancer survivors, apart from providing financial assistance and medical support to economically strained cancer patients.
“Cancer is a beautiful disease,” says the jovial couple. “It has made us stronger and happier.” Kavita shares with us snippets of her journey alongside Arun, as a thoughtful entrepreneur, brave and unflinching partner, and spirited role model to her teenage daughters.

What did you feel when Arun was diagnosed with cancer?

Quite an accidental discovery, Arun was diagnosed with cancer in April 2011. Initially, the news hit us like a boulder because Arun had always led a rather simple lifestyle. He was a teetotaller, a fitness enthusiast, and someone who never smoked, and it took us a while to let the news sink in. But once we got over that phase, we decided to take it up as a bold challenge.

How has your journey with cancer changed your perspective on life?

The journey has been great, and we will rightly say that cancer is a beautiful disease. It has taught us the value of life and to enjoy its uncertainties. There were a few things Arun and I had mutually agreed upon, including the candid truth that we were going to face cancer fearlessly instead of crying over it.

What are some of the programmes that are part of Win Over Cancer? Is there any upcoming event or project that keeps you excited?

At Win Over Cancer, we help patients in early detection and treatment, reducing treatment costs, and creating long-term financial stability for their families. For this, we train them in skill development and provide guidance in starting their own ventures. We are really thrilled about collaborating with over 5,000 National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) centers across India as it means we can expand our reach to the needy.

Do you think cancer can be prevented? If yes, how can it be done?

To an extent, yes. A positive attitude, stress management, regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep are some of the practices, which can help prevent cancer. And given that most of the cancers can be cured if detected in the early stage, people must go in for regular check-ups and screening.

Your children seem to be actively involved in your campaigns and initiatives. How does this make you feel? What would be your advice to the younger generation regarding healthy living, positivity, and the importance of giving to others?

Cancer has helped my children evolve. Now, they know for sure that anything in life can be faced head-on. They are empathetic souls, always looking at the sunny side of things. Children these days are very smart. However, the stressful, fast-paced modern lifestyle puts them under tremendous pressure to excel at everything they do. A dangerous lifestyle is being emulated, be it unhealthy food preferences or the reluctance to get in touch with one’s roots. I think children should be encouraged to pause and take things slow, identify what makes them happy and pursue it with all their hearts, kindling creativity within. It is time we revisit our culture, respect it, and pick some good threads out of it the difficulties involved in the journey. The initiative brought us the happy realization that the numerous challenges patients faced were not without solutions. We started counseling people and sharing the knowledge we had garnered through a blog that Arun maintained. Eventually, we decided to compile his blogs on to a single platform, and www. winovercancer.net was born.

Your children seem to be actively involved in your campaigns and initiatives. How does this make you feel? What would be your advice to the younger generation regarding healthy living, positivity, and the importance of giving to others? Do you think cancer can be prevented? If yes, how can it be done?

Cancer has helped my children evolve. Now, they know for sure that anything in life can be faced head-on. They are empathetic souls, always looking at the sunny side of things. Children these days are very smart. However, the stressful, fast-paced modern lifestyle puts them under tremendous pressure to excel at everything they do. A dangerous lifestyle is being emulated, be it unhealthy food preferences or the reluctance to get in touch with one’s roots. I think children should be encouraged to pause and take things slow, identify what makes them happy and pursue it with all their hearts, kindling creativity within. It is time we revisit our culture, respect it, and pick some good threads out of it.

What inspired you both to keep going despite all the pain, uncertainties, and negativity?

Our go-to mantra has always been ‘Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional’. Instead of mulling over what had happened, we decided to go out and make a difference in the lives of as many cancer patients as possible. Counseling patients really strengthened us and helped us look beyond the uncertainties. From being given a 10% chance of survival in February 2016, Arun braved all the odds and returned to work in August 2016. There is nothing that sheer willpower and an undying spirit can’t overcome!

How was Win Over Cancer born? What does it aim to achieve through its initiatives?

Our idea behind starting Win Over Cancer was to understand the difficulties involved in the journey. The initiative brought us the happy realization that the numerous challenges patients faced were not without solutions. We started counseling people and sharing the knowledge we had garnered through a blog that Arun maintained. Eventually, we decided to compile his blogs on to a single platform, and www. winovercancer.net was born.

Did cancer take a toll on you mentally?

There were times when we found ourselves extremely overwhelmed with all that was going on. Arun was hospitalized for three months due to treatment-related complications and those nights were sleepless and depressing. The excruciating pain made him hopeless sometimes. But the nursing staff was really positive about the treatment and assured us that nothing in life happened without a purpose. One nurse, we still remember vividly, came over and told us, “Had Arun not been diagnosed with this disease, how would Win Over Cancer have come about? How would you help reach the multitude of needy souls whose lives are being touched by your organization?” We take equal pride and solace in the truth that our pain has liberated and empowered many others like us.

What are your goals for Win Over Cancer?

Often people advise us that we have too much on our plate and cutting down on a few projects would do us good. We think otherwise because we believe that as a team, we can do anything! Our pilot project has been running in Delhi NCR for a while and our next goal is to spread hope and love across the country through Win Over Cancer.

Win Over Cancer would have touched the lives of many women. Are there any particular stories that remain close to your heart?

Every person we have interacted with has changed our lives in more ways than one. But a few stories stand out, like the time we distributed prosthetic bras to a few patients at AIIMS. There were women from economically weaker sections of the society who cried tears of joy on learning that we were giving out the bras free of cost. Another time, we delivered a set to a patient in Andhra Pradesh. A few days later, we received an mail from her husband saying that the delivery reached them on their wedding anniversary and there was no other gift under the sun that would have made his wife happier. Sometimes it is the seemingly small things that make a huge difference.

Who or what has been your biggest strength and source of motivation?

Our trust in each other and in God has kept us rooted and motivated all along. There are many others—our doctors, neighbors, friends, and family—who assured us time and again that we were never alone in our fight. We cannot be more grateful for the fellowship and the love we experienced through them. Arun and I want to extend this love to the scores of helpless, lonely warriors out there. We want to remind them that there is always help, sometimes even from the most unexpected places.

What are some of the program’s that are part of Win Over Cancer? Is there any upcoming event or project that keeps you excited?

At Win Over Cancer, we help patients in early detection and treatment, reducing treatment costs, and creating long-term financial stability for their families. For this, we train them in skill development and provide guidance in starting their own ventures. We are really thrilled about collaborating with over 5,000 National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) centers across India as it means we can expand our reach to the needy.

Do you think cancer can be prevented? If yes, how can it be done?

To an extent, yes. A positive attitude, stress management, regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep are some of the practices, which can help prevent cancer. And given that most of the cancers can be cured if detected in the early stage, people must go in for regular check-ups and screening.

Tags:
Previous Article
Next Article

You Might also Like

Leave your thoughts

Let's Keep In Touch

You have Successfully Subscribed!