For children afflicted with cancer, malnutrition makes it impossible for them to survive
Bengaluru: For Purnota Bahl, founder of an NGO Cuddles Foundation, a visit to a government cancer hospital few years ago was a rude shock and proved to be a turning point in her life.
“I saw a baby in her father’s arms and she was pale. At that moment it just struck me that the child could have been mine,” says Purnota, who then decided to do something for children afflicted with cancer.
“I went up to the doctor, who said that more than money, if someone could take care of nutrition for these children it would be a great help,” says Purnota who started the concept of providing nutritious food to children afflicted with cancer at a government hospital. The idea of helping and reaching out to these children started at a very informal capacity in 2012, but it later grew into an active NGO.
For children afflicted with cancer, malnutrition makes it impossible for them to survive. “Many children who have cancer cannot undergo chemotherapy because they are malnourished, which is frustrating,” she said. India lags far behind in survival rates of pediatric cancer, because these children lack the nutritional power to withstand chemotherapy and recover from it.
“Here, at the Cuddles Foundation, we are changing this. We ensure they get the right nutrition, so that they can defeat the monster called cancer,” she said.
“The prime reason is malnutrition due to socio-economic constraints. To fight any disease, a body needs its immune system to have optimum power. This becomes even more vital when the fight is against a foe as strong as cancer and a treatment as harsh as chemotherapy. Good nutrition is the prime weapon that can keep a child’s cancer-fighting arsenal at full force,” she explained.
The foundation now supplies nutritious food to Kidwai Institute of Oncology and soon would be supplying food to children at St John’s hospital and at Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre. “We have already supplied nutritional supplements and a nutritionist at the Kidwai hospital as nutritionist plays a very important role in tackling malnutrition in such children. Each child needs different nutrition plan, hence we have a nutritionist who takes care of the diet chart for these children,” Purnota explained.
The right nutritional intervention and counselling makes the difference between survival and death for cancer patients. With this as their sole aim Cuddles Foundation is striving to help impoverished, helpless children survive the trauma of cancer. The Foundation is India’s only NGO providing holistic nutritional support to children afflicted with cancer.
“Malnourished children are five times more likely to die of cancer hence intervention becomes crucial,” Purnota said. Cuddles Foundation received the best new NGO award at the Can-India Conclave 2013, a conference for cancer NGOs and support groups.
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Published on January 25, 2016
By Joyeeta Chakravorty