Today, February 4, is the World Cancer Day. We wish all the cancer patients and caregivers – family members, friends and caregivers in the cancer hospitals from all levels – helpers, nurses and oncologists our best wishes, concern and empathy.
All sciences have borders of unknown. In the case of cancer it is even more so. There are a lot of debates about it. Starting from whether society should spend so much money on it when diseases like T. B. that kill a lot more people. Then there are debates whether it is a statistical phenomenon or there are carcinogens like tobacco. Be that as it may, we do know that all cancer patients are not smokers.
What follows a lay person’s point of view on the phenomenon of cancer. First we should be grateful to the cancer patients, in cases where it is a statistical phenomenon; they have saved us from cancer. We have not got cancer because they have got it. So they all deserve society’s support in coping with it.
Secondly cancer has given us Palliative Care. Although Palliative Care began with cancer patients, today it has wider applications. In the words of M. R. Rajagopal, a physician by training and founder-director of a charitable trust Pallium India, Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala,
‘Palliative care is prevention and management of serious health-related suffering. It provides not only relief from pain and other symptoms, but also enables social, mental and spiritual well-being. It tries to understand every fibre of the suffering. The source of suffering could be any of the following: pain, breathlessness, an ulcer, anxiety, depression, issues of relationships, and abandonment by the family, hopelessness or even suicidal thoughts.’
Palliative care is a relatively basic and relatively cheap healthcare provision. It requires simple facilities and by most healthcare standards basic nursing and medical care. With the present economic crisis and resource crunch, expensive and irrational geriatric health care should come down and be replaced by palliative care wherever possible. It will enable old people to live in comfort with reduced suffering and die peacefully at home with their family. And in the end it will reduce the carbon footprint of the old people and reduce the population to manageable levels.
So our hearts go to the cancer patients and the caregivers. They are working on our behalf too. Love and courage to all of them!
T. Vijayendra (1943 – ) was born in Mysore, grew up in Indore and went to IIT Kharagpur to get a B. Tech. in Electronics (1966). After a year’s stint at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, he got drawn into the whirlwind times of the late 60s.
Since then, he has always been some kind of political-social activist. His brief for himself is the education of Left wing cadres and so he almost exclusively publishes in the Left wing journal Frontier, published from Kolkata. For the last ten years, he has been active in the field of ‘Peak Oil’ and is a founder member of Peak Oil India and Ecologise. Since 2015 he has been involved in Ecologise! Camps and in 2016 he initiated Ecologise Hyderabad. He divides his time between an organic farm at the foothills of Western Ghats, watching birds, writing fiction and Hyderabad. Vijayendra has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving license nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel-based vehicle.
He has published a book dealing with resource depletion, three books of essays, two collections of short stories, a novella, an autobiography, a piece of children’s science fiction about the history of the bicycle and several booklets. His booklet, Kabira Khada Bazar Mein: Call for Local Action in the Wake of Global Emergency (2019, https://archive.org/details/kabira-khada-bazaar-mein) has been translated into Kannada, Bengali and Marathi and is the basic text for the emerging Transition Networks in these language regions. His latest book is ‘Vijutopias: Dreams for Local Futures (2020).