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Ganga Prem Hospice Patients

India, Rishikesh, July, 2015
Everyone has dreams…..
 “Everyone has dreams’, she told the spiritual counsellor softly as she had her wounds dressed by the GPH nurse. “I had dreams too but….well, they are not going to happen now.” Prompted she asked, “Have you seen those dogs on the street, the ones that are hungry and no one cares for them, well I wanted to build a home for them where they would be well fed and looked after.” After a quiet pause she added earnestly, ‘Have you been to Haridwar? Did you see those poor people who beg for food by the side of the road? Some of them have no legs and arms. I can’t bear to see them,” she said. “I wanted to make a home for them too, a beautiful home where they wouldn’t have to beg, where they would be happy and have lots of food and good clothes; where they would have people to love them.” She sighed and continued, “That’s why I went to college, I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be a sadhu and help people.”

Before the GPH spiritual advisor visited Divya Jyoti in her home, a supporter of the Hospice requested the counsellor to ask the 21 year old patient if there was anything she wanted. Divyae Jyoti looked puzzled at the question and asked, “What sort of thing?” “Well anything” the counsellor replied. “Our supporter lives in town where there are many shops and she can send anything you want, chocolate or maybe something nice to eat or wear?”  A long silence followed then Divya Jyoti said, “I’m not that sort of girl you know. My mother says I am a very funny girl. I don’t want a house and babies and all that, I just want to help people. Everyone has dreams………”

Divya Jyoti lay on her bed in the two-room house where her family lives. She had sent her mother out of the room while the horrendous wound on her thigh was dressed. “She will only cry” she said. “What is the point in her seeing this?”  One of the huge blue nodules that cover her body had burst becoming a large wound that needs daily dressing from the GPH nurse. Divya Jyoti laughed, “All the neighbours and relatives come in and when the see me they say ‘ Ram Ram! Tachh, tachh and aaahh.’ It makes me feel bad too! I just like to lie alone and meditate on my Paramatma (Supreme Soul). I will become one with Him now when my body dies.”   Despite this admission, as the steady stream of villagers come to see her wasted form and comfort her family, she has a gentle smile for each, sometimes responding to someone’s loving caress with a soft touch of the hand. One neighbour brings in a tiny baby and states that Divya Jyoti named the baby ‘Life’. With difficulty she lifts her hand and caresses the baby’s cheek with a thoughtful look in her eyes. Divya Jyoti is obviously much cherished by many and receives this love with a quiet dignity.

Her mother’s anguished eyes never leave her face as she watches for any sign that her beloved daughter might need something. Father and brother come in and out of the room welcoming the guests or bringing some water or juice which they gently beg Divya Jyoti to sip. At times they also need to bring her a bowl for when she vomits. The love in the room is so strong. The GPH home care team are welcomed as part of the family and the unspoken gratitude sometimes spills from the mother’s eyes in clear pearly drops. She quickly turns her face so they are not seen by her dying daughter. The despair of her family and friends is also felt by all.



The counsellor thanks Paramatma deeply for all those working in palliative care who walk alongside and are there for those patients, family, friends and neighbours in their time of need.

Divya Jyoti became one with her Paramatma at 2.30 am on Sunday, the 9th August 2015.


India, Rishikesh/Delhi, April, 2015
Fortune Smiles on a Destitute Patient
Man Singh was one of GPH’s destitute patients. A patient that destiny was able to give loving palliative care during the last month of his life.

Dr Sharma examines Man Singh
Man Singh came hesitatingly into the Sunday clinic on the 29th of March, 2015. He wore a mask over his mouth and was clutching a small plastic bag of reports and a ragged bundle of belongings. He was seen by the oncologists and sent to the counsellors with his prescription on which the diagnosis of liver and lung metastasis was written along with the recommendation of home care.



When the counsellor explained to him that GPH would visit him at home and asked for his address, his thin hunched shoulders seem to bend even more and tears began to roll down his face in quick succession. Pushing down his mask, he explained in choked tones that he didn’t have a home. Asked where he had slept last night he replied that he had slept near to the railway station. As the counsellor put her arms around him and wiped his tears, he explained that he was a labourer who had been working in Ludhiana and that, as he was no longer able to work, he had come to Rishikesh to search for his uncle who worked here. He had not been able to find his uncle and had slept on the street. Between sobs and in answer to the counsellor’s gentle questioning he said he had no one and just needed somewhere to die.


Assured that he had God and he had ‘us’, he was led to one of the beds in the clinic where he could rest. The nurse’s assistant massaged his feet with organic oil and he was handed a kidney tray in which to spit out his bloody phlegm.  Like a trusting child he lay on the bed sometimes watching the busy clinic around him and sometimes drifting into sleep.

Man Singh rests on a clinic bed



While he rested, the counsellors explained the situation to Dr Dewan who phoned Delhi’s only hospice, which had once before helped GPH out in a similar situation. After speaking with the doctor there, it was arranged that GPH would take Man Singh to the hospice the next day. After the clinic, his stay and food were arranged for the night and in the very early morning, the GPH ambulance set off for Delhi with two volunteers and a nurse accompanying Man Singh on his journey. On the way he ate a light breakfast of iddlies with relish and responded to the care he was given with shy smiles and quiet gratitude.

Man Singh’s last home – Shanti Avedna Sadan

On arrival at the hospice, Man Singh was immediately welcomed by the staff there and taken inside with an exemplary expression of unconditional love and tender respect. Soon he was bathed and sitting up on his bed having his first meal in his new home. The paper work was quickly over with. As a destitute the Delhi hospice took full responsibility for his care during his last days.




The GPH team went to say goodbye before their long journey back to Rishikesh and were rewarded with a wonderful smile and a reassuring hand, raised in the Indian style of saying that all is well. The team knew they had brought him to the right place and left with full hearts determining that they would also provide such a special service when the GPH inpatient facility opens in 2016.

Man Singh died on the 3rd May, loved and cared for at the time when he most needed it. His silent blessings are still felt by the GPH team.



India, Dehradun, March, 2015
Help Needed for Kishan
Kishan first came to Ganga Prem Hospice at the free cancer clinic held in Dehradun on the 21st February 2015.

Kishan, who is sixty-four years of age, saw Dr SK Sharma, complaining of a swelling in his neck. He explained that he had difficulty in swallowing his chapatti or rice and was unable to eat solids at all. Upon examination Dr Sharma formed a strong suspicion of there being cancer in the pyriform fossa with the throat swelling being due to enlarged lymph nodes. He advised a biopsy to confirm his findings with a follow up tracheotomy.

Dr SK Sharma examines Kishan
Kishan at his home in Dehradun



When the GPH palliative care doctor spoke with Kishan, she found that he could not afford the Rs 8000 for the initial investigations and treatment of his disease. As a non salaried, daily wage electrician offering his services on an on- call basis, Kishan can manage to make a meagre living when he is well but now that he is ill and unable to work he has no option but to go hungry. His family, consisting of his wife and two sons, have left him because it seemed to them that he was becoming a burden. Now, staying alone in a small room, the future is looking very bleak for the old man as he has not been able to pay the rent of Rs 1100 for the last four months.

The Ganga Prem Hospice palliative care team is caring for Kishan's immediate needs and appeals for financial support for him to clear his debts and provide treatment for his painful condition.

Kishan Singh passed away peacefully at 10.57 pm on the night of 21st March even before his tracheostamy could be performed.



India, Rishikesh, September 6th, 2014
An Eleven-Year-Old Cancer Patient Gets a Lifeline
With a supportive family, the hard work of the Ganga Prem Hospice team and the generosity of the Hans Foundation, little Jaiman is on her way to beating her cancer.

Jaiman Khatoon, who is one among seven sisters, was like any other eleven-year-old, dividing her time between school, playing and enjoying her mother's cooking. Her favourite pastimes were playing football and relishing a dish of raajma-chaawal. One day she felt a lump on the right side of her neck, which quickly grew to a large swelling. She soon became unwell and experienced a decrease in energy level.

The child's family took her to a number of doctors before being referred to Ganga Prem Hospice in April 2014 through a contact. As Jaiman came to GPH just after the Rishikesh clinic, the Hospice team requested that medical oncologist Dr Rudranath Talukdar see the child in Dehradun. He suspected that the condition could be malignant and advised a series of diagnostic tests.

Little Jaiman with her mother at the GPH clinic in April
Jaiman's family is poor. Her parents, who originate from a nomadic tribe, graze cattle for a living and were unable to afford the tests. The Ganga Prem Hospice volunteer social worker, Menakshi Goenka, guided them throughout the tests and, along with GPH nurse Philomena, accompanied them to the hospitals. Soon they could arrange for the patient to have her tests done at Doon Hospital free of charge.

Jaiman's tests did confirm a malignancy, and with a grant from a women and child welfare fund from the state government, Jaiman's chemotherapy treatment started at the Himalayan Hospital in Jolly Grant, Dehradun. Just when the family thought their daughter's treatment was taken care of financially, it was learnt that the grant did not cover cancer. Jaiman's chemotherapy cycles, which were helping bring the oedema down, had to be discontinued.

Social worker Menakshi began searching for funding organisations in Uttarakhand that would sponsor cancer treatment for the child. She came across the Hans Foundation, a charitable foundation which works extensively in the state, and, after meeting with them, she helped the family fulfill all the requirements for a grant.

The Foundation approved Rs. 90,000 to sponsor the treatment cost for the young girl, which enabled Jaiman's chemotherapy to be resumed at the cancer hospital. Much of the credit for this goes to the child's family, particularly one of her older sisters, Mariam. Despite being only in her late teens, Mariam took it upon herself to ensure that all the paperwork for her sister's treatment was followed up. In the hot and muggy weather of July and while fasting during Ramadan, Mariam worked tirelessly to help her sister.

Ganga Prem Hospice continues to follow up on Jaiman, and gives home care visits whenever needed.



India, Dehradun, July 27th, 2014
A Poor Cancer Patient in Need of Support
An oropharynx cancer patient from Doiwala near Dehradun came to the July Ganga Prem Hospice cancer clinic in Rishikesh seeking help with treatment that he cannot afford to pay for.

Fifty-year-old Raj Kumar looks much older than his age. Having been a worker at a repair shop, he is unable to work now owing to his oropharynx cancer condition. Raj Kumar first started to see signs of cancer when, in May 2014, he felt his voice turning hoarse, had trouble swallowing food and felt some swelling that had come about on the left side of his neck. He, along with his wife who works as a house maid, visited a cancer hospital in Dehradun which diagnosed the disease to be that of cancer.
Dr Jai Gopal Sharma examined Raj Kumar at the clinic

He was advised surgery at a cost of one hundred and fifty thousand rupees, which the patient could not afford. "At best we can ask our friends for an advance of a few thousand rupees, but getting together lakhs of rupees is beyond us", said Raj Kumar's wife Mamta to the Ganga Prem Hopice palliative care doctor, Aditi Chaturvedi.

Dr Aditi counsels and advises Raj Kumar's wife
With two daughters, one married and the younger one an undergraduate, the couple was a little frightened of what would happen to their lives in the wake of Raj Kumar's cancer diagnosis. Not understanding the implications fully, the patient's wife asked Dr Aditi Chaturvedi several questions at the Ganga Prem Hospice cancer clinic on July 27th, 2014. Dr Aditi took down their details to see what help Ganga Prem could offer the patient.

Visiting otolaryngologist Dr Jai Gopal Sharma spoke to the patient and his wife at length and wrote a comprehensive note about his condition on his prescription, referring him to a tertiary level hospital.


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