Good Spirits, despite a Collapsed Lung
Usha Devi has lived life
in what would be idyllic settings for anyone:
a loving husband and four children, her extended
family living nearby, and a home surrounded by
agricultural fields and stunning forest views.
However, there is one devastating flaw to this
picture; Usha Devi suffers from advanced lung
cancer. Last month her condition became so critical
that she had to be admitted to the cancer hospital
in Dehradun for three weeks, with water being
drained continuously from her lungs. The doctors
did not expect her to survive but her condition
actually improved a little.
|The GPH nurse
and Usha in her garden.
Now back in her home with three of her
four children always in attendance, Usha
Devi smiles as she sees the Ganga Prem Hospice
nurse come to dress her wound. She asks
the nurse to stay and have a cup of tea,
and laughs when the nurse jokingly answers
that she will have the tea only if Usha
makes it herself.
The reality is not so cheerful though.
With one collapsed lung
and a very sensitive wound from which water drains
from the other lung, the patient's life hangs in
Usha Devi first came to the
Ganga Prem Hospice clinic in August 2011 when
her cancer was still undiagnosed. The family had
been getting her treated for tuberculosis till
then. The Hospice medical director, Dr AK Dewan,
immediately thought that it looked more like advanced
lung cancer, rather than TB. Later tests, which
confirmed lung cancer, proved him right, and her
subsequent treatment was sponsored by Ganga Prem
Usha Devi has two sons and
two daughters, three of whom live with her while
the eldest son works outside of Rishikesh. He
has been coming back home to check on his mother
who has now become all skin and bones.
There have been familial tensions also,
the kind that terminal disease brings, especially
for the poor. Sarojini Murthy, Ganga Prem
Hospice counsellor, has spent a lot of time
visiting the patient and other members of
her family in hospital to help calm heightened
emotions and restore the family unity.
The patient however has got some physical
reprieve even if the disease is in its final
|Usha Devi's husband
assists the nurse
Usha's remaining days are
probably few, but her suffering has been reduced
and she may have been saved from the kind of excruciating
pain that cancer can wreak on a body if left undiagnosed
Update on Usha Devi (September
walks with Usha Devi at her home
Ganga Prem Hospice nurse has been paying Usha
Devi daily visits to clean and dress the wounds
resulting from her lungs being drained during
her recent stay in hospital. At home among
her family the patient's health has somewhat
stabilized, and to the joy of her husband
and children she has even been able to walk
about their little compound with some support.
This unexpected remission may only be temporary
but is welcome relief to her sorrowing family.
Usha Devi died on November 9th,
Devi died at home on November 9th, 2011, surrounded
by her family members.
She had been hospitalised
the past week and was discharged from the hospital
to be with her family as the doctors had done
all that they could. She was brought back home
in the Ganga Prem Hospice ambulance.
Cancer: The Clock Ticks For Little Sujal
Sujal is all of eight years
but has seen much in his young lifebrain
cancer, thirty-two rounds of radiotherapy, his
family struggling with finances, and an uncertain
|Sujal and his
father with Anil Gupta at a GPH clinic
late 2010, Sujal's parents were mystified
when he would vomit after brushing his teeth
in the morning, after coming back from school
and after he had had lunch. Local doctors,
unable to treat the child successfully, referred
him to the cancer hospital in Dehradun where
he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant
form of brain tumour found largely in children.
Since then, Sujal's family has done all it
can to treat their child.
Sujal's father has no permanent job but takes
whatever comes his way to earn a living. His wife
lives at home taking care of Sujal and their older
daughter. The family is a young one, which is
probably why they still maintain a positive outlook.
They are not bitter that is Sujal afflicted with
this terrible disease.
family brings Sujal to the Ganga Prem Hospice
cancer clinic every month in Rishikesh and
the Hospice home care team makes regular visits
to his home to give help and support. Sujal's
family could not afford the next needed round
of radiotherapy and so the fees were paid
by Ganga Prem Hospice as the treatment had
to be given immediately. The state government
has now also stepped in and promised financial
support for the child's treatment.
|Sujal and GPH
nurse Sicily Sebastion
For Sujal, life is not easy. His underlying condition
and the ongoing treatment make him less energetic
than other children his age. He has to be coaxed
before he smiles. Perhaps he understands in some
way that he is battling a very difficult disease.
Update on Sujal (April 29th,
Sujal visited the Ganga Prem
Hospice cancer clinic on April 29th, 2012 for
a regular checkup. Oncologist Dr Dewan saw his
past medical records and observed that the CT
scan which should be done once every six months
was overdue by four months. Dr Dewan advised Sujal's
father to plan a visit to the cancer hospital.
The patient was quiet and
disinterested. Dr Dewan tried to enthuse the child
by shaking hands with him and seeking his consent
for the CT scan. Sujal however remained somewhat
unresponsive, which is not unsual for a child
Sujal's father has no money for the CT scan and
has requested Ganga Prem Hospice to help.
on Sujal (April 30th, 2013)
Sujal has become very weak and frail due to his
progressive medulloblastoma disease. He has lost
his vision and suffers from diarrhea and vomiting.
The Ganga Prem Hospice home care nurse is providing
medicines to improve his condition.
|Dr Abhinav Dewan
tests Sujal's eyesight at the clinic
On the 28th of April, 2013, he was brought
to the Ganga Prem Hospice cancer clinic
in the Hospice ambulance so that he could
be seen by oncologist Dr Abhinav Dewan.
He vomited while waiting to see the doctor,
who soon gave him his full attention.
Sujal will need a CT scan in some time.
For any other treatment, his condition needs
to improve first.
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Children to Support
How cancer can not
only kill ones strength but also disfigure
the body is evident when one sees Kripa Ram, a
44-year old daily wage earner from Dehradun. Kripa
Ram has cheek cancer which has surfaced as a pus-ridden
wound on his left cheek.
forty-four year old father of four children
aged between eight and fifteen used to work
as a security guard in a Dehradun school.
One day Kripa Ram got himself examined as
he thought he had contracted AIDS. He instead
found out that he had cancer and that his
disease was already in a progressive state.
His relatives and friends distanced themselves
from him, afraid that the illness might be
|Kripa Ram, his
wife, and one of his sons
Out of job and in a depressed state of mind,
Kripa Ram one day locked his wife and children
in the house and came all the way from Dehradun
to Raiwala to commit suicide on the railway tracks.
Once there however, he had a change of heart and
went back home.
|The GPH nurse
changing Kripa Ram's dressing.
contact asked Kripa Ram to visit the Ganga
Prem Hospice cancer clinic in Rishikesh, which
he did in November 2010. Since then, the Hospice
has taken over the costs of his treatment
at the Dehradun cancer hospital, and given
him home care, medicines and transport to
and from hospital in the Hospice ambulance.
Support has even included giving him and his
family food supplies.
I am breathing and living because of the
care the Hospice team has given me, says
Kripa Ram. His wife adds, See how our children
are still so young. What would we have done without
Update on Kripa Ram (May 2011)
Kripa Ram has been a regular visitor to the clinic
since he first found GPH.
Usually he is accompanied by his wife and
one or two of his children. At the May clinic
a neighbour accompanied them as Kripa Ram
can no longer walk. His extreme weakness is
causing increasing anxiety to his family who
do everything in their power to keep him comfortable.
The Ganga Prem Hospice home care team continues
to provide medical and emotional support,
even bringing food supplies to the family
from a GPH supporter in Haridwar.
|Kripa Ram being
wheeled into the May cancer clinic
Kripa Ram died on June 9th,
Kripa Ram died on the night of June 9, 2011.
In the last days, he was extremely weak and in
a state of confusion and delirium. The Ganga Prem
Hospice nurse visited him in the afternoon before
the evening of his death in Dehradun and tended
to him. Kripa Ram is survived by his wife and
four young children.