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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Survivor Dimple Bawa On How & Why She Started A Foundation To Help Others Fight Cancer

  • IWB Post
  •  July 2, 2019

Dimple Bawa’s journey of recovering from cancer is all sorts of inspiring. From fighting the disease to starting an organisation for people who are suffering from cancer, she has come a long way. She wants to make this world cancer free or at least make it a bearable experience for those who suffer from this medical condition.

She says her journey of recovery started with the acceptance of the situation. She was diagnosed in April 2013 and began her treatment in April that went on until December 2013. “I believe when I decided to fight and get cured was when the actual process of recovery began.”

In this interview, she talks to us about her journey, her research about cancer, and how friends and family can contribute to healing. She’s being accompanied by a team member from Cheers to Life Foundation, Mr. Saleeth Nisar, who’s been one of the crucial members in establishing the dream. Excerpts:

You support cancer patients in their journey to recovery, tell us about the research that went into starting Cheers to Life foundation. 

Apart from cancer patients, we also support caretakers and family members. I wanted to share my experience and feelings that helped me come out of cancer. When I was going through chemo, I did some R&D about lifestyle changes and nutritional requirements. My aim that time was to protect my body as my tumor would have affected my heart.

Some things worked for me, and I was eager to share it with other cancer patients, and that’s when I started a support group. That time I also met some underprivileged people who were cancer patients. They had to struggle to meet ends and earn daily wages along with dealing with the disease. Through our organisation, we not only provide support to cancer patients but also provide underprivileged patients with financial aid.

What sort of challenges did you face while transforming from a support group to a full-fledged organisation?

Our motive to start the support group was to share knowledge about best practices such as nutrition and healthy lifestyle for cancer patients. We realised that there were so many people looking out for such help and saw that support group was garnering enough attention. Since I had no formal business education, it was tough initially to figure out all the nuances of operating a business. A few of my friends and even patients whom I had counseled earlier, joined me when I decided to build the organisation. There were a lot of challenges that I went through.

I remember one such incident when I wasn’t able to figure out the registration process, and one person called me and said that it’ll take 40k for my organization to get registered, so I went myself to the registration office and sat there for three days. On the third day, the person who issues the certificates called me and told me to come on a Saturday. I was ready for another day of long wait and came back on the following Saturday. But as they say it, things always fall into place when you want them to. That person not only turned up to the office on a Saturday but also handed me the registration certificate within 30 minutes.

Dimple Bawa

When and how did you decide to start with a full-fledged organization?

Saleeth: While Dimple was going through treatments she was talking to a lot of doctors and other survivors to gain knowledge. However, it was difficult to go around when you are going through cancer. Someone who’s suffering from this fatal disease is already going through a lot. The first question that pops up is how much time I have. We started with a primary focus to share knowledge and best practices to make the process of healing from cancer easier.  When Dimple began meeting people and started this support group, we observed that many others wanted to get help and people wanted to get a consultation from abroad as well. That’s when we thought of converting it into a proper non-profit organization. Later on, we started focusing on healthy lifestyle and nutrition because there’s not much information available about it easily.

Do you extend financial support as well?

Yes, we do give financial support. We have helped four such people suffering from cancer. We have funded one patient entirely and the other three partially.

Dimple Bawa

How do you raise these funds?

We raise money through crowdfunding from our circle by spreading the word about cancer patients who are in need of assistance. It’s mostly through family and friends.

Please provide some advice on how family and friends can help in the recovery journey. 

The most important part is to help them to accept that they have cancer and without making it a big deal or make it sound too serious as it is already difficult for them. Keep giving some positive examples of people who have made it through this deadly disease. Don’t treat them like a patient, as in take care of them but don’t make it apparent that they are suffering from something. Give them love, joy, and try to divert their mind. Just keep them engaged and motivate them. Cancer treatment is like hanging between life and death so just make sure to let them know that you will be there for them no matter what.

A lot of women ignore their health. What advice will you give them to lead a healthy lifestyle?

I’ll suggest love yourself, look after yourself and make time for yourself. It’s important to make conscious choices whether it’s listening to your body or eating a proper diet. Prioritize yourself, i.e., make time for exercise, meditation, and stay healthy.

Dimple Bawa

What kept you going in tough times?

A strong desire to live.

What’s your biggest goal in life and how do you plan to achieve it?

I have no plan as such, but I aim to make a cancer-free world. I want to support as many patients as I can. It’s important to know your risks by being aware of your family history. I want to spread more and more awareness about knowing your risks and handling your lifestyle accordingly.

This article was first published on February 20, 2018.

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