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Ganga Prem Hospice Patients

INDIA, Northern India, June 3rd, 2014
High Morale Rises Above an Aggressive Cancer
Anup (name changed), now twenty years old and in the terminal stage of cancer, has battled pelvic sarcoma for the better part of his young adult life.

 
A tall strapping boy in his teens, Anup was diagnosed with cancer in his leg four years ago. His parents and two sisters, who come from a lower-middle-class family in a mountain district of Uttarakhand, went for the best treatment they could afford. After a surgery in a Punjab-based hospital that did not fully remove the tumour, followed by inappropriate radiotherapy, Anup's disease progressed steadily.

As his cancer continued to grow aggressively, what started with a limp in his leg turned into a severe handicap as another surgery was performed at a leading hospital in Delhi. The surgery did give Anup more time, but with his hip joint removed and a leaking urethra, the young man started to spend a lot of time in bed as he could only either lie down or stand up with the help of a walker. His journeys to hospital were the worst, where he had to be endure acute physical discomfort lying in an ambulance for hours on end as he traversed the five hundred kilometer distance from his Himalayan home to Delhi or elsewhere.

Anup's condition continued to deteriorate. With his family he explored all possible avenues of treatment. For some time he had symptomatic relief with some therapies, but the cancer was too aggressive to be contained. The school-going boy's circle of friends and contacts shrank as they started to visit him less and less. "I don't know what to say," said one of his young teachers who stopped visiting him. A Ganga Prem Hospice supporter donated a new laptop to Anup, making him very happy for a while as it brought some cheer to his mundane routine of lying in bed day after day.

With a very supportive team of his consulting oncologists and Ganga Prem Hospice personnel, Anup continues to make enquiries about his disease and the possibilities of alleviation.

The condition of his body has however become unbelievably shocking. He suffers from a horrific case of gangrene in his left leg, complete incontinence, pus filled bedsores that have devoured his buttocks and hips, and an aching back from six months of lying on the bed. The young man has however shown exemplary courage with what is not only an extremely painful but also avery visually disturbing disease.
 

Now in the last part of his journey, Anup's voice is still strong and his words are open as he discusses his problems with the GPH team. He is deeply concerned about his father who now nearly struggles alone to care for his only son, as the mother has become psychologically disturbed with the dreadfulness of the situation. Most terminally ill patients, especially older people, having reached a certain point in their illness, give up, and that is when they die. Anup knows that he will die but still wants to live, a paradox experienced by a young man consumed with cancer.

Anup needs in-patient Hospice care. In the absence of this, the Ganga Prem Hospice team do all they can to help the struggling family through regular phone calls, supplies of medicine and medical equipment, and above all emotional and spiritual support.

Please help us to build the Hospice soon so that others don't have to suffer like Anup and his family.

Update on Anup (June 6th, 2014)

Alarm bells rang amidst the Ganga Prem Hospice team in Rishikesh when, on a routine phone call to Anup, he reported to the social worker that there was a hole in his foot where ants were nesting. He also said that he had found some maggot eggs near his knee. He then confessed that he couldn't sleep at night as he was surrounded by ants and cockroaches that crawled all over him. On being questioned more closely he admitted that he hadn't changed his t-shirt for a long time as it was stuck to him with sweat, blood and pus.

The GPH team swung into action. Even if the patient lived 200 kilometres away and the road was dangerous, the team was ready to make a visit. One day was spent consulting with GPH specialists and buying medical and other supplies for the visit.

The team had to travel the winding and treacherous roads of the Himalayas to reach Anup's home
Anup was ecstatic when he heard that the people whom he consulted regularly on the phone were actually coming to see him. He invited them to lunch at his house. During the seven hour journey to his home, he phoned many times telling the team not to be late as the lunch was ready. Nurse Philomina, social worker Menakshi, and volunteer Mamta travelled in the GPH van and fell in love at first sight with Anup whose smile stretched from ear to ear despite his emaciated condition and horrendous wounds.

The first thing on the agenda was to get to know Anup and to clean him as much as possible. "We're having fun," he said brightly when he phoned the GPH spiritual advisor. "They are treating me like a king," he laughed. After a bath, hair wash, nail cut and change of t-shirt, Anup was already looking like another person. The room was cleaned, new sheets purchased and an exhaust fan installed to help clear the musty air.

Over the next couple of days the team got down to the business of cleaning the bleeding wounds and sores on his back, buttocks and hips. Photos were taken and relayed to Dr Dewan for immediate advice. Anup preferred to change his own diapers but allowed the team to clean the area where the catheter enters near his urethra and has caused a septic wound. Layers of gauze and cotton were removed to reveal the rotting knee and the ayurvedic paste that Anup uses to try and halt the gangrene as it creeps up his thigh.

As any slight movement causes him excruciating pain, attempts to lift the left leg had to be given up and the team had to satisfy themselves with cleaning around it as much as they could. They saw that the dressings over the lower leg were stuck to the rubber mat below, which in turn is stuck to the mattress with a mixture of dried pus and rotten flesh. Maggot eggs were removed from the area and turpentine applied wherever possible.
Nurse Philomena lovingly cleans Anup's gangrenous leg

Anup has folded his right leg to protect it from the developing bed sores but now it has become stiff and unmoving. He spends his day lying in one position with his head inclined on cushions. He is able to move his hands and head but the rest of his body is immobile.

Anup should have been in a hospice months ago and his parents are at a loss to cope with the terrible situation. While the team was with Anup, they contacted local people and NGOs seeking help for him but were not altogether successful. There are no NGOs in the area that are really equipped to handle such an extreme case, so the most the team could hope for was that the family would receive some emotional help and supportive visits from the people who were contacted. After meeting the team, Anup is considering coming to Rishikesh where GPH could arrange a bed in a private hospital and could look after him properly, but in his weak condition it is not sure whether this would be possible.

On the last day the mood was somber and Anup said, "I don't give you permission to go." It was a hard job to leave him. After giving him another bath the team finally left in the mid-afternoon taking pus and other samples with them. Anup's mother broke down and asked when her son would get better. It was with heavy hearts that the team left Anup with promises to come back soon. On the return to Rishikesh, Menakshi wrote: "Thank you for allowing us to meet with Anup, this is an experience that will remain with us forever. It teaches us to look at the positive side of things and live life against all odds, and that too with a smile and a kind word for all."

Update on Anup (June 16th, 2014)

After the team's return to Rishikesh, Anup gradually became depressed and begged for them to come back. Maggots had returned and he was suffering from fever. His entreaties could not be ignored and so, early on the morning of June 14th, the team made another arduous journey into the Himalayas. Dr Dewan was unsure whether the fever was caused by seasonal weather changes or by infection and so the team went armed with all the necessary medicines and instructions for helping Anup.
Another journey to Anup's home was organised in June

On reaching his home the team found him to have a high fever and stomach cramps. He was soaked in urine and had loose stools. Medicine was quickly given and a wet towel placed on his forehead. His fever came down and after he had slept a little, he was given a sponge bath and a gentle massage on the painful and twisted right leg. The massage method for the right leg had been advised telephonically by GPH volunteer physiotherapist Pooja Dhawan. Anup's clothes were changed and he was given a new present of a tablet, as he is no longer able to hold his laptop and gets very bored lying on his back all day.

Playing with the tablet and joking with the team soon raised Anup's spirits and after the first day, his fever did not return. The team worked on removing the maggots and making Anup as happy and comfortable as possible.

Social worker Menakshi also spent some time with Anup's mother, carefully following the instructions of GPH advisory psychiatrist Dominique Cassidy. As before, the team spent some time trying to clean up the apartment which has become extremely dirty and unhygienic due to the mother's mental illness and the father's preoccupation with Anup and his care.

In the early afternoon of the third day the team said goodbye to the family and, promising to keep in touch, headed back to Rishikesh in order to finish most of the journey before dark.

Update on Anup (August 3rd to 5th, 2014)

It had been a long time since the team had last visited Anup, and although at least one of the members phone him every day and he regularly receives medicines and medical equipment from GPH, still they were eager to make a third visit. As soon as the monsoon rains had slackened a little, preparations were made for the trip into the Himalayas. Dr Dewan, who had spoken to Anup on the phone about a new growth that had recently appeared near his scrotum, advised which medicines should be taken. After everything had been collected together the group left early on the morning of August 3rd.

It is always a shock for the team to actually see Anup as his voice on the phone is so strong and clear. They found him even thinner and weaker than last time and his right leg was swollen and disfigured. As well as these problems, the team found that rats had been eating his gangrenous left foot and chewed away most of the sole. Pellets to ward off rats were purchased immediately and put around the boy's foot and leg. Anup was, as usual, full of smiles and told the team that the rats were having a dinner party at night but that he would rather they had it elsewhere.

Apart from this, Anup's back and shoulders were now completely covered in bed sores that caused excruciating pain at any slight movement of his arms or body. It took three people three hours to gently remove his T-shirt, stuck to him due to blood and puss, clean the sores and put a new T-shirt in place. Although his spirit was very high, his pain was obviously severe and he had no appetite. After giving him the prescribed medicines, Anup picked up a little and to the delight of his family he had his first meal in several days.

Maggots were removed from his left leg and it was dressed with a homeopathic mother tincture containing calendula, in which his father has a lot of faith and preferred that it was used instead of turpentine. Anup was given his usual bath and manicure which made him very happy.

Anup's elder sister had returned home from her studies and had been helping him with his dressings as well as keeping the house clean and preparing meals for the family. On the day that the team was to leave, August 6th, it was to be her 24th birthday, so on the 5th they gave Anup surprise birthday presents to give to his sister as well as arranged for a cake, munchies, savouries and cold drinks. Anup was thrilled and his sister wrote on her Facebook page that it was her best birthday ever.

Anup had a surprise for the team too, as he had got his sister to purchase little gifts for each of them as well as a small statue of Lord Ganesh to take back for Nani Ma. The team left wishing once again that they could do more for him and marveling at his selflessness and concern for others despite his incomparable suffering.

Although happiness surrounded the visit, in a phone call to the GPH spiritual advisor a few days later, Anup asked her how much suffering a human body could undergo before it was ready to die. Nani Ma spoke to Dr Dewan and he said he had never seen such a degree of suffering in a cancer patient and said that he didn't actually understand how Anup's body maintained its life and his mind its clarity.

Anup also spoke about how he has started to explain to his family that now it might be better to leave his body behind rather than to undergo the physical agony and mental anguish that he and his loved ones go through each day. He wanted them to start to prepare themselves for his onward journey. His main worry, he said, is leaving his mother whom he fears may not survive his passing and his little sister who is not doing well in her studies and needs his support as the elder brother. Anup's understanding and compassion are growing by the day as he learns to accept and embrace what life has brought to him and to gently share it with those who are close to him.

Update on Anup (August 21st, 2014)

On Sunday, August 21st, Anup decided to have the dead part of his left leg removed. The maggots had gotten so out of control that his father became very distressed at the sight. A local auxiliary nurse removed the leg just above the knee, where it was already almost completely detached. Anup, who had been given some medicine to make him feel drowsy, felt no pain during the procedure which was done at home on his own bed. Anup is very happy that the leg and all its problems have gone, although his family are still feeling very upset as they had somehow hoped that the gangrene might be cured.

Update on Anup (October 6th, 2014)

Every boy's dream came true for Anup on the 6th of October when he was flown from his home town in the Himalayas to Delhi for treatment by helicopter.

The boy, who had not left his bed for over a year, was first lifted from his home by army personnel and then driven to the nearest helipad. This in itself was quite an achievement as Anup lives on the second floor of a small town house with a narrow circular stairway. Colonel Ajay Kotiyal, who had heard about Anup from a social worker introduced to the family by GPH, took a personal interest in the boy and was inspired to take action. The impossible became possible when Anup was airlifted to a Delhi hospital and had his bedsores and left leg stump treated. His twisted right leg is also improving with physiotherapy following a minor surgery.

Whilst it is not yet clear if the doctors are able to improve his bladder or other serious medical conditions, hospitalisation has certainly allowed his bedsores to heal and given him the ability to move more comfortably with an improvement in his quality of life.

Emotionally it was an elevating time to be flown to Delhi and to be treated as a VIP for some time, but there were also many moments of distress and fear for Anup. Conversations by telephone with the Hospice team throughout the night provided much needed love and support to help dry his tears. The generosity of Colonel Kotiyal, who is financing Anup's stay in hospital, is very praiseworthy, and at present Anup's physical and emotional condition is much improved.

Update on Anup (May 6th, 2015)

Exactly seven months after Anup had been flown to Delhi by helicopter, he returned home by ambulance. This time it was a very different Anup from the terrible bundle of sores and pain that had been airlifted from the mountain town. All Anup’s bedsores, except the very severe sore at the end of his spine, have dried up though leaving large scars over his back and hips. His left leg has been cleanly amputated near to the groin and neatly finished with a skin graft. His right leg has been straightened and Anup is walking with the aid of a walker. He has learnt to sit and is confident and happy.

An attempt had been made to mend the leakage from his bladder but it had not been successful and the diapers and catheter have remained with him. Even this is accepted by Anup as with a rueful smile he says that he is glad they tried once more and now he understands that the problem can’t be resolved.  Anup knows that the cancer itself has spread further inside his body and that now the bladder, rectum and left kidney are involved. He suffers pain from the disease but says cheerfully, “However long I have left, I am going to enjoy it.”

 
   
Anup with the GPH team
The army companion lends a helping hand
   

 

 

On his way back to the mountains with his father and the two young soldiers who stayed with him in the Delhi hospital,  Anup made one much awaited stop in Rishikesh to see his ‘Rishikesh family’.  He was all excitement and smiles as he greeted each of the Ganga Prem Hospice team and was bubbling over with enthusiasm as he told them all his news. A room was opened in Punjab Sindh Kshetra where he rested for more than an hour and shared snacks brought by one of the volunteers.  He was so proud to show how he could walk with the help of a walker and sit and get up on his own. His two soldier friends shadowed him lending unobtrusive helping hands when he faltered, reminding the team that the picture was not as rosy as it looked. He tired soon and rested on the bed until it was time to resume the long journey.

When Anup reached home, he said he missed the hospital as he used to enjoy making the other patients laugh and forget their pain and sorrows. Now Anup is settling back into life at home learning to adjust in the tiny upstairs flat. As he tells his news over the phone he is enthusiastic and his voice only becomes somber as he narrates that there is no change in his mother’s mental condition.  Anup is scheduled to return to Delhi for a checkup in a month and a half’s time.

Update on Anup (November 29th, 2015)

To avoid the extreme cold of winter in the Himalayas, Anup has come down to Dehradun to stay with his two sisters who are working and studying there. In Dehradun it is easier for Ganga Prem Hospice to provide Anup the palliative care he so much needs. A GPH volunteer is taking especial care of Anup, visiting him frequently.

On 29th November Anup was brought by special car to Rishikesh where he was to speak of his personal experience of cancer at the Palliative Care course. First Anup was taken to the clinic where he saw Dr Dewan and later sat in the sun to enjoy a samosa and fruit juice. At the course venue Anup spoke in detail about his journey with cancer. The talk was extremely poignant and brought home to all the participants how very much palliative care is needed. As Anup began to describe his mother’s depression he broke down and could not continue. Anup did stay and was able to have lunch with all the participants but as he had been sitting for a long time on a stool he was tired and a sofa was brought for him to rest on.

 
   
Anup at the course venue
Anup at the course venue
Sr Raelee with Anup and a volunteer
Sr Raelee with Anup and a volunteer
   

 

 

After lunch a group of the volunteers took Anup for a tour of Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula.  Anup enjoyed every minute of his afternoon which included a snack in a local café where he learnt some card tricks from one of the volunteers, walking along the busy street full of shops and pilgrims, a boat ride on the Ganga and finally doing Ganga aarti. Every time when asked if he was tired he would reply, “Yes, but it doesn’t matter, I am having such a good time.” Afterwards he told everyone that it was the first time in five years that he had been able to wander in the market. The GPH team promised him that the outing would be repeated. Anup slept all the way back to Dehradun but reached home triumphant and elated with his successes.

Update on Anup ( Winter 2015-16)

Anup spent the winter with his sisters and mother in Dehradun where he received regular visits from the homecare team and from volunteers. Anup took part in a number of GPH outings and festivals  including an outing for the young GPH patients, the GPH Christmas party, his own birthday party, the Krishna Das concert in Rishikesh and GPH Holi celebrations. In the Spring of 2016 Anup and his mother returned to their home town in the mountains because they found the plains too hot and were also missing their home. The GPH team kept in contact with Anup through regular phone calls and sent him any medicines and medical supplies which he could not get in his home town.
 
Update on Anup ( 21st May 2016)

GPH volunteers Nani Ma, Menakshi Goenka and Anuj Gupta visited Anup at his home and found him depressed and missing the company that he had had in the winter. He complained  that although GPH looked after him from a distance no one visited him and he felt very lonely.
 
Update on Anup ( 25th July 2016)

GPH volunteer Dr Daniel from Mexico visited Anup at his home and found him very depressed and physically uncomfortable. Anup later phoned Nani Ma and requested that GPH somehow make arrangements for him to come down to Rishikesh as he is not able to manage at home any longer. GPH is trying to find a suitable hospital for him.

Update on Anup (1st June 2017)

Anup slipped away peacefully at 2 am on the first of June leaving  all who knew him with unforgettable memories of an incredibly brave and considerate young man.

Anup spent the last year of his life frequently moving between his home in Uttarkashi and his sisters’ home in Dehradun. The weather in Dehradun was often too hot for the mountain boy’s comfort and his mother would also miss Uttarkashi and insist on going back there. Each time Anup would make the arduous journey back to the mountains only to find that he could not manage the dressing of the tumours which were growing relentlessly in his groin and at the base of his spine and so would wish he were  back with the Ganga Prem Hospice team who knew how to dress his wounds and in whom he had complete trust. Anup explained the frequent movement by saying that he just kept feeling that if he moved somewhere, somehow he would feel some relief even though he know it didn’t help.

Towards the end of his life, as the sight of food had started to make Anup nauseaous and he had difficulty in taking oral medicine, he spent time in various hospitals in Dehradun having blood transfusions and intravenous medicines. Whichever hospital he stayed in Anup would insist that the GPH nurses came and did his dressings there. Whenever it was not acceptable to the hospital he would discharge himself and go back to his sister’s flat where the GPH nurses could care for him.

Anup longed for the time when his suffering would be over. He spoke about his yearning to the GPH team members and almost daily to the spiritual advisor on the phone. He questioned why the body went on living despite terrible pain and afflictions. A few weeks before the end he developed gangrene in his remaining foot and his wasted body was reduced to a pitiful skeleton. Anup’s mind however was as clear as ever and his face shone with the hope that the pain would soon be over. His concern was only for his parents. He repeatedly requested the team to please help his parents to accept that it was time for him to go and to allow him to die. His father, who had always been in denial about the cancer,still felt that maybe another operation could save him while his mother had difficulty in understanding her son’s prognosis and would repeatedly ask when he would get better. GPH counsellors and doctors spent many hours with the family trying to help the parents accept and respect Anup’s desire to leave the body with their sanction. Anup’s elder sister gave the team and Anup great support during this difficult time.

One week before Anup left his body, he phoned the spiritual advisor and told her excitedly that he had a ‘signal’ and now he knew he had only one week left to go. He said he was pretty certain it was one week but definitely not more than one and a half weeks. He said that he had decided to go back to Uttarkashi, where he had been brought up, to die in his own bed. He returned to Uttarkashi the next day and reported that the weather was cool and refreshing and that he was feeling better.

Three days before the end he phoned the spiritual counselor again to say goodbye and to ask her to thank all the GPH team. He said he had no words that could express the gratitude he felt for all that the team had done for him and he said that although he could take nothing else with him he would be taking the Love that he had received from the team. He asked that each member of GPH be thanked and requested that, just as they had helped him over the last years, they should continue to help others in the same position. He was clear and eloquent in everything he had to say and although his voice was weak, it was difficult to believe he was really going at last.

Anup then expressed his gratitude to his grandparents and aunt. The day before he left, as he slipped into a semiconscious state, his father gave him permission to go and told him the family would be okay and he was not to worry. The spiritual advisor, who had spoken with Anup each day on the phone which his sister held close to him, said goodbye on the last day and gave him her love, blessings and guidance for the last hours. It seemed that his palpable joy at being free from the prison of his anguished body was felt by all those who had loved him so much and any sorrow at his passing was tempered by immense relief and gratitude that that 10 years of suffering was finally over.


 
 
 


INDIA, Dehradun, April 4th, 2014
A Breast Cancer Patient Survives against All Odds
Sunita Rana is one of the Ganga Prem Hospice patients who say they owe their lives to the Hospice. Supporters of the Hospice have sponsored Sunita's surgery, chemotherapy and ongoing cancer medicines, and also provide periodic food rations for her family.

Forty-year-old Sunita Rana first came to Ganga Prem Hospice in June 2011 when she heard of a free cancer camp being organised by the Hospice not far away from her home in Dehradun. One of the first patients to arrive in the morning and to be seen by visiting surgical oncologist Dr Rajinder Kaur, Sunita was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although the cancer had been operated on before, it had recurred because she had not been able to afford the appropriate follow up therapies.
Dr Kaur with Sunita at a Dehradun clinic in 2011

Two days after the clinic Dr Rajinder operated on Sunita without taking any fees and the Hospice helped Sunita to have her follow up chemotherapy. Sunita has remained under the care of Ganga Prem Hospice ever since and now she is taking medicines to help prevent a further recurrence of her cancer.

Sunita's husband is a polio sufferer and earns only Rs. 2,000 a month as a domestic helper. He also gets a disability pension of Rs. 2,400 once every six months. Earlier Sunita earned a little money as a house maid but has not been able to work since she was afflicted by cancer.

Sunita at the monthly cancer clinic in January.
The small family's financial situation soon became precarious as they struggled to meet medical expenses on the one hand and bring up two school-going children on the other. Now, with in-kind donations coming from a Haridwar-based donor and financial support coming from a donor living in Bangalore, Ganga Prem Hospice is providing the patient with food supplies and sponsoring her diagnostic tests and medicine.

Sunita comes from Nepal and her husband is a Garhwali. Their marriage took place against her in-laws' wishes and led to her husband's family severing its ties with them. With Sunita's husband, Budh Singh, being thrown out of his ancestral home in Lucknow, the couple made a home for themselves in Dehradun, where they live in a small basement flat which comes with Budh Singh's job.

Sunita does sometimes complain about her health, but her soft-spoken words make one appreciate her forbearing nature. Even though she continually suffers from oedema and pain in her arms and legs, Sunita still keeps her house clean and tidy and looks after her family with great tenderness. She says she feels depressed sometimes but cheers up when is she is visited by the Ganga Prem Hospice nurse and social worker.


INDIA, Rishikesh, February 27th, 2014
A Little Girl Battles with Leukemia
Seven-year-old Sanjana came to the Ganga Prem Hospice cancer clinic in February, looking adorable in a pink jacket with its hood over her head to protect her from the last days of the winter weather. With compromised immunity and frequent fevers due to her leukemia condition, little Sanjana looks dainty for her seven years.

She seemed a little pensive as her father consulted with surgical oncologist Dr AK Dewan at the February clinic, but after a while, she opened up and smiled easily as she interacted with the Ganga Prem Hospice clinic team.

Sanjana is the younger of two sisters in her family. Her father worked as a television repair mechanic till a year ago, when Sanjana's continuing medical problems led him to more or less give up his work and concentrate on his younger daughter's condition.

Sanjana and her father with Dr Dewan at the clinic
A persistent cough in early 2013 was at first wrongly treated as tuberculosis by a Rishikesh hospital, and was only later diagnosed as acute lymphoblastic leukemia after a bone marrow test was done at a cancer hospital. Since then, the entire family has spent long weeks and even months in Chandigarh, where the tertiary level hospital, the PGIMER, has the child under its wing at its advanced paediatric centre.

Sanjana's recurring infections and fever are a constant source of worry for her parents, as is the cost of treatment for her chemotherapy. Her father gave a list of thirteen most-needed medicines for Sanjana. Given their weak financial condition, procuring these medicines is a major worry for her parents. Sanjana's father noted wistfully that his elder daughter, who was studying in the tenth standard, had to forego one academic year due to Sanjana's frequent hospitalization in far-away Chandigarh. The whole family often had to live away from home for extended periods of time, and they couldn't leave their older daughter behind in Rishikesh. Sanjana herself studies in the first standard but, owing to her ill-health, she has been very erratic with school attendance.

The Ganga Prem Hospice visiting ayurvedacharya gave Sanjana's father some dietary advice for the child and a Hospice supporter offered to provide some of the necessary nutrition. The GPH social worker promised to see what could be done to find sponsors for her medicine and treatment. Representatives from the Mother Miracle School, a local NGO, who had accompanied the child and her father to the clinic, also offered to look into avenues of potential support for the child.
Sanjana sitting with Nani Ma after her consultation

The cost of little Sanjana's leukemia treatment is estimated at Rs. 4 lakhs, an amount that her family can ill-afford. You can help Sanjana by donating towards her medicine and treatment.

Medication that Sanjana needs: Inj. Imipenem, Inj. Vancomycin, Inj. Amikacin, Inj. Vincristine sulfate, Tab Mercaptopurine 50mg, Dexamethasone 2mg, Sulfamethoxazole+Trimethoprim, methotrexate, calcium supplements, and amoxicillin + clavulanic acid.

You can help. » Click Here to Donate Now!

 

INDIA, Rishikesh, January 29th, 2014
A Hospice Desparately Needed for Some

Ganga Prem Hospice volunteers Dr Brenda and Menakshi first met Manjari (name changed) when they had gone to an ashram to put up posters for the upcoming Krishna Das concert in December. When it was known that they were from the Hospice, they were told that they might be able to help someone.

That "someone" was Majari, and the volunteers were horrified when she entered the room with her hair disheveled and wearing a white suit stained with blood from top to bottom. She held a blood soaked cloth in her hand. Manjari asked them if they had a pill that would make her wound better so that she could go on a pilgrimage and die somewhere. The people of the ashram explained to the volunteers that Manjari had come from a wealthy family and was very educated, but now her mind has become unbalanced. Manjari has a huge cancerous wound on her breast.

The team visited Manjari and dressed her wound. On the following Sunday, Manjari was brought to the clinic by a pair of boys from the ashram. As she entered the waiting area with her wild curly hair, bare feet and blood stained clothes, all eyes turned towards her in shock. A shawl was quickly brought to cover her clothes and she was then taken into the clinic facility where she could lie on a bed. Manjari scowled at everyone who came near her.
Manjari at the December clinic, being told she needs to go back to the ashram

The GPH team got to work immediately. The boys from the ashram were sent out to buy a new white suit. Manjari was bathed and her wound cleaned and dressed, oil was put in her hair, and she was clothed in the new suit along with some warm woolens. As Manjari sat on the bed sipping hot tea and nibbling at biscuits, her scowls had turned to radiant smiles and it was seen that she was a beautiful and cultured woman. When it came time to take her back to the ashram she refused to go, saying that she would remain at the clinic premises from now on . She said that she liked it there and she would get better in a few days if she were allowed to stay. It was heart rending to have to send her away. With the Ganga Prem Hospice in-patient facility built, people like Manjari would have a place to come and be cared for.

Manjari sits in her tiny room, which fits under staircase
When Manjari returned to the ashram, she kept asking to be brought back to the clinic. She refused to eat and succumbed to a high fever, soon becoming bedridden and unresponsive. The Ganga Prem Hospice team continued to visit her for several hours each day, and nurse Chandan from Germany and other volunteers from the ashram joined in helping to care for her, to bathe and feed her, and to keep her clothes and room clean. Manjari gradually recovered.

Now, sitting up in bed, clean and fed, and conversing in flawless Hindi or English, all her visitors say that she looks like a princess. The GPH wheelchair has been taken to the ashram so that volunteers can take Manjari out for a walk each day, where she can gaze at the beautiful Ganga and surrounding green hills.

Ganga Prem Hospice cannot save Manjari's life, but its quality can be and has been vastly improved. This is what Hospice is here for.

Update on Manjari (February 16th, 2014)

In the first week of February, nurse Chandan reported that she felt Manjari would soon need round the clock care and that the patient herself wanted to leave the ashram as she could no longer do any service there and didn't want to become a burden. As the Ganga Prem Hospice in-patient facility is not yet ready, GPH contacted the nearest hospice, Shanti Avedana Hospice in Delhi, and they agreed to take Manjari in.

Unfortunately, on February 10th, before arrangements could be made, Manjari suffered a fall in the night and her wound broke open again. She had lost a lot of blood by the time Chandan found her in the morning. The GPH team transferred Manjari to a local hospital where she stayed for five nights and received a blood transfusion as well as glucose and saline drips. Ganga Prem Hospice arranged for a nursing assistant to take care of her personal needs while in hospital. Early on the morning of February 16th, Manjari was taken to Delhi by nurse Chandan and a young man from her ashram in a car hired by Ganga Prem. Manjari was admitted in the hospice where she is now being well taken care of.

The seamless and timely coordination between the Ganga Prem Hospice team during this emergency enabled Manjari to pass through the ordeal and reach the safety of a hospice with minimum possible discomfort.

Update on Manjari (March 11th, 2014)

Patient Manjari passed away in the care of a hospice in Delhi on the 10th of March, 2014, at 10.30 am. She had troubled breathing and didn't speak much in her last moments, except to tell the hospice staff that her carers who had brought her to Delhi would come to take her. An ashram contact reached the Delhi hospice to take charge of Manjari's mortal remains. Even in her last moments, Manjari was worried that she should not be a burden on anybody, whether in her life or after death.

Manjari's body was cremated in Delhi and her ashes were brought back to the ashram in Rishikesh by her former carer, Rohit. They were immersed in the sacred river Ganga with full Hindu rites.

Ganga Prem Hospice would like to thank nurse Chandan, volunteer Menakshi Goenka and Rohit for their tireless efforts in caring for Manjari.

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PATIENT'S STORIES
Cancer patients and their loved ones are invited to write to us about their views, thoughts and feelings. We will include as many letters, articles and stories as is possible in these web pages.

Please send your article to Nani Ma at nanima@gangapremhospice.org.

 


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