A group of oncologists along with Nag Foundation have taken an initiative to start a one-of-its-kind support group for head and neck cancer survivors in Pune.
At a time when there is much work being done to form support groups for breast cancer, head and neck cancer remains to be a neglected area. The real aim for having such a group is that it can help give confidence to people or patients
A lot of work is currently being done in terms of breast cancer; however head and neck cancer tends to get neglected. The aim behind having such a support group is primarily because it helps in boosting the confidence of persons who have been affected by this cancer in any way, such as, having a disfigured face, losing their voice and having to compromise while swallowing.
India has the highest number of head and neck cancer patients. Doctors say that patients do not live longer once they are diagnosed with it.
Sumit Khare, (name changed) one of the head and neck cancer survivors, who wishes to be part of the group, said, “No one apart from those who are suffering from the disease will understand our pain and as no one else can, only these people will help us to overcome it. That is why such groups are crucial.”
He added, “You need some motivation to live your life after your face has been disfigured post-surgery or when you cannot swallow food as you used to. I hope that with such groups, finding answers to our problems would be an easy task for us.”
The first survivors meet was organised in Pune on Saturday. Dr Snita Sinukumar, surgical oncologist from Pune, while explaining about the purpose to have such a support group said, “The morbidity is more in face and neck cancers. Also, they spend their life with their disfigured faces and with a compromised speaking ability. The group will aim to give motivation to each other to live a happy life, even if you have scar on your face. The aim of behind this is to have a common platform to create dialogue and to ensure continuous rehabilitation.”
Dr Shona Nag, one of the trustees associated with the Nag Foundation, an NGO which works in the field of cancer care, said, “These patients often have special needs post-treatment. Their speech is compromised so they need speech therapy. Mouth opening and swallowing is affected and so these issues need to be addressed.”
She added saying, “They are often neglected. Support groups have always focused on breast cancer and now it’s time to have one for head and neck cancers.”
The group will undertake activities for continuous rehabilitation. Lectures on how to swallow food and how to speak would be arranged for the survivors. Also, special attention would be given to keep a check that patient does not go back to consuming tobacco and other tobacco related products.