June 2022

From Meera’s desk:

Hakuna Matata

A wellness workshop conducted by Sanjeevani was attended online by some of our volunteers. On Dr. Selvi’s suggestion, we adapted this workshop to make it more relevant for our patients. This adapted workshop was conducted on 7th and 8th of June.

We covered a variety of topics like

  • diet

  • pranayama,

  • yoga

  • EFT (tapping technique)

  • reflexology

  • Mental Construct which comprised of- coping techniques, reducing feelings of loneliness, anxiety and distress, adding sparks of joy, hope and empowerment

  • practical information and resources

  • communication with loved ones

The workshop was planned with a focus on newer patients. These workshops will happen every month.

The workshop was attended by an enthusiastic mix of new and old patients.

It was well received and the whole batch was very appreciative and eager to put their new learning to practice.

                                                        

Thank you participants for those encouraging words!

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Some Smile; Some cry

When up against a trouble

Face it chin up as if it’s just a bubble

Fair and square eye to eye

Never give up but put a big fat fight

You may fail ; you may fall

Take the bow as you fought it after all!!

இப்படி எல்லாம் pep talk குடுத்து ஊசி போட்டுட்டாங்க…!

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Saturday afternoons at CBC…

Siesta? No.

Special surgeries? No

Summa vettiya? No No

Saturday afternoons are study time at CBC.

Our CBC has many new happy faces in the recent times. The younger generation staff are donning various crowns of responsibilities.

Dr. Selvi came up with the idea of allocating Saturday afternoons for not only catching up with pending work, but also to enrich our knowledge. Bloom’s Taxonomy states a hierarchy of cognitive complexity, from the simple task of remembering something up to skills of evaluation and synthesis. In sync with the same at CBC we believe that revisiting and remembering is a necessary step to higher levels of thinking.

Dr. Jegadish conducted Basic Life Support class this month. Many more such classes are planned for further weeks to come. The time spent together learning, revising, clarifying has been satisfying. Not only that, these classes help the staff to work confidently and independently with clear goals.

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May 2022

Going on a picnic, leaving right away
If it doesn’t rain, we’ll stay all day.
Did you bring the sandwiches?
Yes I’ve brought the sandwiches.
Did you bring the salad?
Yes I’ve brought the salad.
Ready for a picnic here we go.

Yippeeeee…our annual trip began…

And we returned with hearts fullll of happy memories and rejuvenated…

Happy faces and chirpiness everywhere…

குழந்தைகளுடன் குழந்தைகளாய் கும்மாளமிட்டு…

Morning walk…

மலை ராணி மார்த்தழுவி

வழிந்தோடிய முத்துப் பரல்களில்

மனதைத் தொலைத்து மகிழ்ந்தோம்…

CBCஇல் மங்காத்தா…

Surrounded by serenity…

தண்ணீரைக் கண்டிட தாவிச்செல்லும் உமாவும் கவிதாவும்..

Thanks to Dr. Vaishnavi and her mother for making this trip memorable!!

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Hakuna Matata – The Workshop for CBCians

At the start…

She was distraught

But she fought the battle

Fought like hell

In the journey,

She became stronger

Her faith grew bigger

She discovered ‘her-time’

And the change was beautiful…

Does she know that we are here to help her ? Does she need more support? Her physical & mental well-being is important. This was the premise of our prep for Hakuna Matata. The trainers met and discussed about the whole workshop which was beginning in June.

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Ethics Committee:

The Ethics Committee of Chennai Breast Centre met to discuss, review and approve some proposals submitted. The members also enjoyed a delicious snacks with hot chai after the meeting.

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Support Group- Month of May:

Report by Nandita:

In the second part of the series explaining breast cancer treatment, Dr. Selvi explained Radiation or Radiotherapy in a very simple, easy to understand language and even dispelled the doubts some ladies had.

To put it in a nutshell:

What is cancer? The cells belonging to different organs have all got specific roles to play within that organ. So cells in different organs are different. When cells don’t stay where they should, and migrate out of their zones and start multiplying elsewhere it is what we know as cancer.

So, what does treatment involve?

  • Local treatment and
  • Systemic treatment

Local treatment of the tumour at the location where it is, is again in two parts…

  • Surgery ( physical removal by surgery)and
  • Radiotherapy or radiation..( treatment of that area by radiation)

Systemic treatment again consists of…

  • Chemotherapy ( the cells present anywhere else in the body are  destroyed via medicines introduced into the bloodstream)
  • Hormonotherapy – where, if the tumour grows faster in the presence of certain hormones, the hormone blockers do just that. Block the hormones from reaching them.

What is radiotherapy? There are x-ray of different wavelengths. Some are used as a diagnostic tool like in x-ray and CT and PET CT scans. These are used to view organs within the body.

Then there are photon rays that can penetrate the body and destroy cancer cells. These rays are targeted at the area that has to be cleaned or sanitized of the bad cells.

In order to identify the exact location that has to be radiated, those who undergo Radiation, go for some preliminary sessions too. These scans are done so that the areas needed to be radiated are pinpointed. Such precision Radiation minimizes the extent of the area needed to be covered.

Radiation is done in two circumstances.

Sometimes to reduce the size of the tumour before surgery.

Usually to make sure that the place from where the tumour was removed, is totally cancer free.

While the actual time taken for a session may be just 4 minutes, getting to the hospital and pre-radiation preps may take time.

Possible side effects are the blackening of the skin, peeling off of the skin, tightness of the skin and thickening of the skin. All these are usually temporary and will return to normal in a couple of weeks or in some cases it may take longer. Tiredness can be aside effect too. But for the majority, there are minimal major side effects other than these.

During the course of this treatment one may be asked to avoid anything that can aggravate the skin, like soap, talcum powder and cosmetics. This is only for a time frame that lasts till 2 weeks after the end of radiotherapy. Thereafter, it is advisable to get back to normal bathing and cleaning routines to avoid other skin infections that will arise from not cleaning the body.

Two questions that came up during the question time were:

1. Can one use hair removers or other such products after Radiation

Yes. After 2 weeks there are no restrictions.

2. Can Radiation also aggravate lymphoedema?

Yes. Post removal of lymph nodes, if the area is treated with Radiation, the thickening of the tissue there could further block the lymphatic vessels and affect the drainage of the fluids leading to lymphoedema.

3. Is there any time frame within which one can develop lymphoedema?

No. One can develop it any time. To prevent it or at least reduce the chances of it happening, one had to take all the precautions already told (no weights, no tight clothes, no BP measurements on that arm, no IV on that side. Besides this regularly do the exercises taught by the nurses.

Radiation and the treatment then is all done by the radiologist. (The number of sessions, the intensity etc). Once it’s over, the patient is sent back to Dr. Selvi to continue the treatment. (chemo and/or any other medication needed).

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Regular story sessions & chanting session happen online. Please send mail to sg.cbc2019@gmail.com if interested.

 

 

April 2022

Winners of April Aalap

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Train the trainers…Hakuna Matata

April saw a series of meetings. Not only by the doctors but also by the volunteers. Meera, Nandita, Seema & Sri met over a period of two weeks to put together a workshop for CBCians who finished their breast cancer treatments. This group of four attended 12 days long programme called Sanjeevani by Mrs. Ruby Ahluwalia. Seeing the benefits of the programme, the four decided to take the inputs from the programme and  do something similar for our CBCians with some adaptations for local context.

In-person & online meetings happened in full swing…

When we disagreed…..

Call for training the trainers for the programme  brought us dedicated volunteers.

The trainers were challenged at the end of the training session 🙂

Dr. Selvi Radhakrishna joined our session and added few more valuable inputs.

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Support Group Meeting

How to cope up during and after Breast Cancer treatment? – By Nandita

The cheapest, most potent medicine avaliable to mankind… is oxygen. Totally free! And yet we don’t utilise its full potential by not breathing correctly. The support group meeting this time started with Meera guiding all of us through simple breathing techniques.

These techniques are part of yoga and help our body to absorb maximum oxygen. We were taught Anulom vilom ( breathing in through one nostril and breathing out through the other, then in reverse breathing in through that nostril and exhaling through the other ), abdominal breathing, thoracic breathing and finally yogic breathing. By the end of this 10 minutes our bodies were refreshed.
We then went on to the topic of the day… How to cope up during and after our treatment.
Cancer treatment starts with biopsy . The course of treatment is decided fully based on this result which is why each person’s treatment is unique . The age of the patient( pre or post menopausal)the stage of cancer( whether its localised), the grade ( how much of a change from the normal) , the ER/PR test ( whether the cancer is fuelled by hormones). Once this is done, only then, to deal with that particular patient’s cancer is the treatment decided. Please understand that the doctor, based on research and norms does what is best for each patient. Googling by patients and their families will only throw up thousands of unverified options. Avoid Google.
Now treatment can be broadly divided into 1. Surgery

2. Chemotherapy

3. Radiatiotherapy ( radiation)

4. Hormonetherapy

The order, the number of sessions, the medicines used etc are all based on the tests done on the tumour. So depending on what is decided, this treatment is undergone by each patient. Cancer treatment is feared because of the side effects the treatment has. So how does one cope with the terrible side effects?

1. Relax, have faith that the doctor is doing what’s best for you

2. Take one day at a time, one step at a time. Don’t start worrying about the whole treatment and the months to follow. Focus on that day, and the treatment that’s on. Deal with each day as it comes.

3. Adjust your diet according to what you can and what you feel like eating. Smaller, bland diets help.

4. Remember, side effects mean that the medicine is working. Just have faith that it’s only a matter of time. It will get over and you will be okay soon. Talk to other survivors. There is a power in faith and positivity.

5. Negative emotions bring down your immunity. So stay positive. How? Every situation has a brighter side. If you are going through this treatment, remember you are one of the lucky people … because it has been detected and you are getting treatment. So bear with the temporary aches and pains. Focus on all the things you have. Focus on what is going right and not in what is not.

6. There will be good days and bad days. Whenever you are feeling low, try to count your blessings.

7. Take up or learn a new hobby. Or do something you enjoy. Sing, paint, do some gardening. It feeds the soul. There will be times when one wants to do nothing. It is perfectly ok to do nothing.

8. Stop blaming yourself. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just an illness and you will get well. Stop taking on the burden of the whole world on yourself. You are human… relax.

Remember, positivity helps time fly!! Soon the treatment will end.. with the last chemo or radiation or hormone tablet. So how does one get back to normal, cope up then? Remember now it’s time for you to stop thinking of yourself as sick. You have been treated. Give your body time to recover. Some side effects go immediately, others take months.

Once your treatment is over, how does one cope with life . Well your body needs a little time to adjust… just because the treatment has ended does not mean you’re back to normal. Gradually get back to your routine. Don’t let every small ache or pain scare you. You need to approach the doctor if there are aches and pains that persist beyond a month. Do keep note of any questions that bother you. Ask the doctor when you meet her. No urgency. If you find it difficult to relax and unwind, learn techniques that will teach.

Apart from the above tips, there is big support group of CBCians to cheer & support you anytime. Please send a text with your name & id on WhatsApp (Ph: 9445913665) to join the group. Important announcement of doctor’s talks, group storytime, training & workshop dates are made in the group.

The talk is available on YouTube.

March 2022

Recently, I had to sort out some bank formalities for my aunt. I had to rummage through the 28 towers of documents which had finally seen the light of the day after being inside the varieties of saree boxes, urgent-ordinary files and yellow to pale cloth bags. I dreaded the herculean task of fetching what exactly we needed. Every 3rd minute of trying to find the required document was ‘Eureka’ moment…the address in the bags read ‘Madras’, the Tamil ‘ ணா ” றா ‘ were different!! Of course one of the Eureka was what we searched for.

Next day I had to plan from getting up early to returning before the sun fried  my head. Also wanted to escape the maneuvers during peak office times. On my way to the bank I sang. I always sang…may be my coping technique when I feel stressed?! But this time I sang out aloud at the signal(Note: I was on my two-wheeler). Before I could end the line, a person on another scooter next to me also sang along. And thus we finished the stanza in duet. On my way to the bank I couldn’t stop laughing thinking what happened.

Thinking of the bank work, I rehearsed what questions I need to ask, what I should provide and what responses I need to give. Also the thought what if the staff wanted me to bring some other documents and make me take a trip again. By this time I had reached the bank. The staff were polite and guided me well. It was a matter of 10 minutes work. Feeling accomplished I hopped on to my bike and…sang? No I didn’t sing. For the first time I realized how I was feeling relieved after so many hours from dawn.

I took this ride-time to go through the whole thing and see whether I could point my finger at one thing that stressed me out. Hurrah! It was my own mind- play. I am sure all you readers can go back and see how my mind was busy focusing on the unknown. I didn’t know whether – there would be heavy traffic; the staff would be helpful; the work would get over etc etc…

Over-thinking உடம்புக்கு ஆகாது!!

What-ifs & Whys even without a situation can potentially decrease our productivity, stifle our creativity and dampen our problem-solving capabilities. As overthinkers one may also miss the beauties and happiness around. While being prepared let’s not over think and miss some splendid moments. Let’s dance with the flow…

This was also the crux of Dr. Selvi’s interaction with all during the March Support Group Meeting. Meera taught us breathing techniques as well.

 

 

February 2022

Chanting gives me solace; I love stories; I am multi-talented & I want to share; I want to be with people who don’t judge me; I want to know more about breast cancer…

Like one-stop-breast centre, Chennai Breast Centre is a space for all the above plus more. A blessing to all during and after the treatments. Whenever someone complains of something, my Amma used to say, “See how and what best you can learn/take/make from that situation/place/person. At the same time what doubly best you can give back/contribute to that place or situation or person.” This is what happens in these sessions at CBC. You gain friends who understand at the same time don’t give that paavam(பாவம் ) looks. Instead they encourage, rejoice and celebrate with us. It does wonders in you!

Excerpts from the poem Desiderata  by Max Ehrmann

//If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.//

When Nandita shared her experience and pearls of wisdom in one of the Friday Night Club story session of CBC(will be available on YouTube soon) I immediately connected with the poem .  That’s why shared.

So, back to these sessions…We wish & invite more and more CBCians to participate in these sessions.

நன்கு துடைத்து நீர் தெளித்து

கம்பி, புள்ளி, மா, வளைவு

நெளிவு, கட்டம், சுளிவுகளை

சமம், சீர், துல்லியமாய்

சிக்கலின்றிக் கோலமிட்டு

கோலாகலமாக பங்கேற்ற

கோகிலங்கள் வாழியவே!!

The winners of Kolam competition…          

Mrs. Kannamma – Winner

Mrs. Punithavathi – Runner

Congratulations girls!!

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Support Group Meeting by Dr. Selvi Radhakrishna

From Nandita’s Desk:

Cancer treatment can be very confusing and scary for those who don’t know what’s happening to them.  And then there is this human tendency to check with others and compare. This months CBC support meet was conducted by Dr Selvi herself, explaining the treatment protocol in detail to the extent possible.  In her inimitable style, she clarified the whole thing in layman’s terms so that each person who heard her could understand.

So what is cancer? Usually, among the millions of cells in our body there are some that are malformed or cancerous, but these are dealt with by the body’s defense mechanism.  The good  “warrior” T cells go and kill these errant cells. But sometimes, due to various factors  , in some people, this mechanism fails and the bad cells multiply forming  cancer.  These factors could be hereditary    ( 5%), or due to lowered or impaired immunity  because of being exposed to carcinogens, or sometimes it just happens.

If the cancer stays where it started, in one organ it is a localized cancer. If it escapes and spreads to other organs it’s said to be metastatic .

Treatment starts with identifying the tumour and checking how it behaves (done via biopsy).  Depending on these results the course of treatment is decided. Please note, each person is as unique as their cancer.  Some tumours may be driven by hormones  (diagnosed  by the ER/PR/HER2 test). Others may be positive for one or two of the three, and some are triple negative.

Some cancers are detected early, others later.  Some cells may have changed drastically, others less. So medical terms are applied  ( grade, stage..etc) and based on this, the age of the patient, whether she is pre-menopausal or has attained menopause and many other factors the treatment of each patient is planned. This is why it is important to understand that your treatment is based on your results . The course of treatment is solely based on how best to destroy the cancer cells in your body.

Treatment consists of
1. Surgery.. the removal of the tumour
2.Radiation . To sanitise the area surrounding the tumour
3. Chemotherapy.. to kill stray cancer cells that may be floating around elsewhere .

Chemotherapy consists of injecting a cocktail of very powerful drugs that usually  targets all rapidly multiplying cells. So while all the bad cells are destroyed, some good cells which also multiply rapidly are collateral damage. But the beauty of our bodies is that normal cells ( hair , blood cells etc) which are affected by the chemo, get back to normal  when the treatment is over. The bad cells do not.

Remember, if you are having terrible side effects of Chemotherapy, it is a good sign that the medicine is working.  Have patience, things will return to normal.

Hormone therapy. For those who test positive for the ER/PR/HER2  test, which was an indication  that their cancer  is growing fueled  by hormones, tablets like Letrazole and Tamoxifen  are prescribed. That once again depends on the result of their tests and their age.

After clarifying many doubts doctor Selvi had to rush off for another meeting and has promised to address radiation on another session.

January 2022

Happy New Year!!

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

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“Do more than belong: Participate”

They arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to the meeting.
Who are ‘they’?
Padma, Vidhya, Usha and Subhashinee
What meeting?
Meeting to discuss about the variety show for CBCians.

They have come up with interesting competitions. These are opportunities to uncover oneself, cheer a co-participant, show case one’s aptitude and attitude…more than that show that one doesn’t just belong; but support by participating.

As we grow up we forget to laugh. This breast cancer episode freezes an extra Dindigul lock on our lips.

As we grow up we need a purpose for that all we do and for all that we think.

If we watch ourselves, we may catch ourselves giving excuses for so many things and most of the time it is No-time!

So where has the child-like motivation gone? Where has the smartness to balance and squeeze a little time to do the things we enjoy has gone?

The dictionary meaning of Volunteering doesn’t mean only ‘to offer something or to do something which you do not have to do or for which you will not be paid.’ It also means to step forward to make a difference to the people around them.

While all cannot and need not commit to a committee and work, all can show their camaraderie by stepping forward.

We invite you all to participate in these interesting events!!

Many of you may belong to this Chennai Breast Centre’s support group. But do you really participate?

“Do more than belong: Participate”

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Before the clinic resumed its full-swing operations due to renovations, some moments…  Rare to see Kavitha and Uma relaxing…

Chai pe chat…

CBC sundaris…

பாவம் எங்கள வெச்சுகிட்டு doctors படும் பாடு…hehe

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Support group meeting began with questions posed to Dr. Selvi. After fielding the questions doctor invited participants to share any topic that they think could be taken up for the upcoming support group meetings. Nandita and Sita took charge of collating the topics. We also invited people to participate in the Friday Night Club story time sessions and Sahasranamam chanting which happens regularly.

Dr. Selvi concluded reiterating the importance of Corona precautions.

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December 2021

Looking back at 2021 we have had 11 support group meetings plus Engal Utsav all online!! Yes, that brings the longing to meet and greet each other in person…

Our Chennai Breast Centre support group meetings are led by Dr. Selvi Radhakrishna and a group of volunteers who are breast cancer survivors. Many regular participants who make it a point to attend are busy people from different professions. Recently we had a small chat with them as what makes them prioritize these support group meetings and attend every month.

Some responses were…

  • Motivates to face fears and improved well-being
  • Dr. Selvi’s inputs about healthy diets, exercises and lifestyle changes
  • A sense of connection and comradeship  without being judged
  • Tips from each other and the stress-relieving exercises
  • Reduces loneliness
  • Able to share openly in the group which understands us more than the relatives and friends
  • Good to see so many positive & strong women
  • After every meeting there is some takeaways even if it is a repeated topic being discussed

I would like to add one more which I am sure many who are regular attendees would agree…many doubts get dispelled.  I say this because new or old survivors, doubts are doubts. No point feeling hot under the collar if there are no responses for your questions in the whatsapp group because some questions-

  • can be answered only by the doctor
  • can have different answers varying patient to patient
  • are specific to one’s own condition

So, I call upon all the CBCians to attend these support group meetings regularly and benefit from them. Not only attend, encourage others who joined newly in the group to attend as well.

Please feel free to suggest any other topic or discussions you want us to bring into these meetings. Your suggestions are valuable.

So what happened in December meeting? Meeting went with the flow…like the river taking its course. It began with…

Sridevi(singing to Dr. Selvi) நலம் நலம் தானா முல்லை மலரே

சுகம் சுகம் தானா முத்துச் சுடரே

For this Vidhya sang back ஒரு எசப்பாட்டு:

நலம் நலம்தானே நீ இருந்தால்

சுகம் சுகம் தானே நினைவிருந்தால்

ஆஹா… the back to back evergreen singing continued till it reached the old குத்துப்பாட்டு “அடி என்னாடி ராக்கம்மா பல்லாக்கு நெளிப்பு…”

The participants greeted each and were all happy to see Dr. Selvi after couple of months. The discussions moved with each person’s doubts and questions to which Dr. Selvi replied.

Dr. Selvi wrapped up the meeting with the explanation of the following stanza from Vishnu Sahasranamam.

//Kayena Vacha Manasendriyerva Budhyatma Nava Prakrute Swabhavath
Karomi Yadyat Sakalam Parasmai Narayanayetu Samarpayami…//

I offer all that I do,
To Lord Narayana,
Whatever I do with my body,
Whatever I do with my mind,
Whatever I do with my brain,
Whatever I do with my soul,

She went on to explain how she faces some difficult situations in her life reminding herself these chants and their explanations. The second one was  from Bhagavad Gita…

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||

karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi

Do your duty, but do not concern yourself with the results. We have the right to do our duty, but the results are not dependent only upon our efforts. A number of factors come into play in determining the results like not just our efforts but also our past karmas(actions), the will of almighty, the efforts of others, the cumulative karmas of the people involved, the place and situation etc.

She also spoke about samanya- dharma and visesha dharma. She insisted on the importance of attending these meetings and how it would definitely boost each other. That’s when Sridevi shared Bhaja Govindham’s chant in Tamizh.

“மெய் அன்பர் தொடர்பால் பற்றின்மை உண்டாகும்

பற்றின்மை உண்டாயின் மோகமது அழியும்

மோகமது அழிந்தால் மெய்ப்பொருளில் நிலைப்பாய்

மெய்ப்பொருளில் நிலைப்பே ஜீவன்-முக்தி”(as translated by Sage. T.G.Narayanaswamy)

satsaṅgatvē nissaṅgatvaṃ
nissaṅgatvē nirmōhatvam |
nirmōhatvē niśchalatattvaṃ
niśchalatattvē jīvanmuktiḥ || 9 ||

With that Dr. Selvi urged all to attend these meetings and wished every one a happy new year ahead!!

 

 

 

November 2021

No- News-November?

என்னடா இது CBC ல ஒண்ணுமே நடக்கலையா?

கவிதா சிஸ்டர் போர்ட்டிகோலேர்ந்து அருவி மாதிரி கொட்டின மழைத் தண்ணில ஆட்டம் போட்டதை தவிர?

அதெப்படி ஒண்ணுமே நடக்கலை? அவ்ளோ பெரிய renovation நடக்குதே…டக்குதே…க்குதே…குதே…தே…நோno நஹி…எத்தனை முறை தான் இதையே எழுதுவது? ஆனா  Renovation க்கு நடுவுல ஒண்ணு நடந்துதே…!

I called Uma one morning regarding some clinic work. It was very noisy and I said, “It is very noisy. I am unable to hear anything. May be because of the workers inside the clinic. You come out and talk.”

“Akka, we are all already outside only…sitting on the குட்டிச்சுவர்!” she laughed.

“அக்கா, உமா இவ்ளோ சீக்கிரம் குட்டிசுவரா போவான்னு நான் எதிர்ப்பார்க்கலை.” என்று கவிதா சொன்னதுமே all girls’ laughter rocked the place.

After the small coordination chat, when I put the phone down I realized how these girls put any philosophy into practice அறிந்தோ அறியாமலோ.

இடுக்கண் வருங்கால் நகுக அதனை
அடுத்தூர்வது அஃதொப்ப தில்.

-திருக்குறள்

Breast cancer has changed many women in positive ways like appreciation of life, eating healthy food, taking up exercises, understanding the importance of me time, extending compassion beyond their small circle and so on.

While some women are enthusiastic about exercises and some do them regularly out of fear, many find it difficult to take time out of their schedule and many give into the temptation of postponing. Keeping this in mind we called 25 survivors who have had their mastectomy in different years under Dr. Selvi to check whether are continuing with their exercises. The situation looked scary.

So, Exercises to prevent Lymphoedema…became the topic of our support group meeting, November 2021.

“Exercise helps in managing lymphoedema. it helps the lymph fluid to go back into circulation and therefore is beneficial, prevents swelling and reduces the swelling if it had begun. We were all taught specific hand exercises by Kavitha sister at Chennai Breast Centre after our mastectomy. The truths about  lymphoedema are one, it can occur anytime and two many of us ignore these exercises!” Sita Viswanathan began the meeting.

Sita demonstrated the exercises like elbow flexion & supination, horizontal abduction, wrist rotation, active hand pump, shoulder rotation. The online participants repeated the exercises.

She also reiterated some of the following points:

  • Stop exercising if you feel that your arm begins to tire
  • Check with your doctor if it swells
  • Never wear tight outfits. Wear loose and comfortable clothing
  • Warm-up the affected arm before you start to exercise everyday
  • Be regular about doing these exercises

Meera Badri added:

  • Taking care to wear gloves while doing garden work to avoid insect bites
  • Exercising caution when cutting and chopping vegetables
  • Not to wear tight rings, tight bangles and stiff talisman ropes
  • Not to scratch if the arm itches. But to approach the doctor
  • Using the sleeve if advised by the doctor

Ultimately Prevention is Better than Cure!!

October 2021

எங்க கிளினிக்ல கொலு…

இம்முறை இ-கொலு என்பதால் அளவாய் நான்கு பொம்மைகள்!!

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Expanded our services @ Chennai Breast Services

At CBC we have now commenced operating in the new premises just adjacent to the clinic!!

Sometimes high & sometimes very low

Like the mountains and valleys

Sometimes smooth and sometimes really rough

Like the treading terrains

Every day we experienced & enjoyed

Moved forward to fulfill the dreams

The previous night we all stayed at the clinic and made sure everything’s set. Of course, we had our fun & chuckles too!!

Early morning

This herculean task was possible only because of

      Uma                                   &                     Jhansi

‘Sweat & toil; but we won’t rest or give up’ was their mantra through this period. Hats off to you girls!! You made it!!

These two were supported by the other two pillars Kavitha & Hema. Prabha, Priya, Vasanthi, Sandhya and Guru Anna were there always to pitch in and help. Loads of hugs!!

Making the whole thing possible with their  love, care, guidance and செல்லமான திட்டுக்கள் was Dr. Selvi’s parents. உங்களிடமிருந்து கற்றுக்கொள்ள கடல் அளவு வாழ்க்கைக் கல்வி உண்டு. கைகூப்பி நன்றி கூறுகிறோம்.

In the New Year we will be more equipped!!

And with every step we realize “Your wishes have always been with us…” Thanks to all our supporters and well wishers.

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Happy Birthday

It was very late in the evening. The girls did not leave the clinic till Dr. Selvi and Dr. Asha returned. They  gave Dr. Selvi a surprise!! Voila…a happy happy birthday cake and a song…

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Engal Utsav 2021

This year too we had our Engal Utsav online.

Not an mm we allow this no-eyeball-meet situation to bring our enthusiasm down. This time all of us decked with tiaras and crowns sang and danced!!

Danced? How’zzz that even possible when the meeting is online? மனமிருந்தால் மார்க்கமுண்டு!

We had songs in different languages from different parts of India.

 

Aarti & Nandita shared a burrito bowl...

I mean they shared the recipe with real time demo. I am sure this might have solved the dilemma of many which has been ‘What to cook? How can I make it a balanced diet loaded with nutrition without compromising the taste?’ All answered in one shot.

Four resource persons from different sections of the medical field took their valuable time and shared their expertise on different topics.

Dr. Praveena spoke on Pain management after Breast Cancer Treatments in Ayurveda

Dr. Hemamala explained all about Fatty Liver, prevention & precautions

Ms. Mythili Srivatsan, (Nutrition coach & Yoga Trainer) demonstrated how one can intersperse Exercises even when one is busy

Dr. Abirami Rameshbabu, Physiotherapist elucidated about Frozen Shoulders

There were technical glitches during the programme. But நாம எல்லாம் மடைதிறந்து பாயும் நதி அலைகள் அல்லவா?!!

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Thank You!

Some of you may remember the bags used for carrying the drains after mastectomy.  October being breast cancer awareness month Dr. Poornima’s daughter Ms. Sneha, a designer, gifted these bags. Team CBC thanks her for such a thoughtful gesture.

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From the Trustees of Sharana Breast Cancer Relief & Research Foundation

Sharana Breast Cancer Relief and Research Foundation is a non-profitable, charitable, non-governmental organization, set up in 2009 which aims to assist women during a very difficult phase of life that is when faced with the diagnosis of breast cancer. The trust helps diagnose, treat and support breast cancer patients.

Trust Activities

Sharana trust is involved in various patient care activities like: counselling, patient support groups, supporting genetic testing, surgical treatment, assisting with targeted treatment, conducting awareness programs and training medical and para medical staff in various aspects of breast disease diagnosis and management.

  •  Breast Cancer awareness programmes: Early detection leads to catching the disease which would mostly be at the treatable stage. Under Sharana trust Breast Cancer awareness programmes are conducted through the year. Early detection, expert medical team and state-of-the-art treatment facilities at Chennai Breast Centre aids patients to experience better outcomes.
  • Surgery & Treatments: Over 110 surgeries have been done free of cost for economically weaker women with breast cancer. Mammography, Clinical breast examination, required tests, Surgery, Chemotherapy, providing post-surgery Kit, Radiotherapy, Harmone therapy – the costs of these are funded by bequests by kind hearted people. For 90% of the patients seeking help from Sharana Dr. Selvi Radhakrishna has waived her surgeon’s fee completely and for the rest a small percentage is only charged.
  • Genetic testing: Genetic testing for 46 triple negative patients were done from the trust.
  • Patient Navigators: An active group of cancer survivors trained by Dr. Selvi help in giving tips on how to cope up with the treatment focusing on the emotional side and clarify any doubt. There is also an online group with a dedicated coordinator from the trust for further assistance during and after the treatment.
  • Regular follow-up: The team also ensures that the patients come back for their reviews and check-ups regularly.
  • Support Group: A robust support system through monthly meetings is in place where panel discussions and talks are held to dispel doubts, alleviate fears of breast cancer and encourage positive attitude cum activities towards quality life after treatments.
  • Prosthesis: A group of volunteers knit and provide cotton prostheses for the patients immediately after the surgery through the trust. This provides the confidence to deal with the loss.
  • Counselling: Both patients and the caregivers are counselled, empowered with tips for coping with self-esteem during the shocking emotional stress.
  • Training: Training programmes and workshops for radiology and surgery have been regularly conducted by Dr. Selvi Radhakrishna.
  • Tissue Banking & Diagnostic Pathology: One of the main aims of the Sharana trust is to spearhead research in breast diseases. The incidence of breast cancer is expected to rise to 35 per 100000 women. We derive all treatment plans from the research happening in west whose cancer we know is genetically different from ours. The main hindrances for research in India is the availability of fresh frozen tissues which is needed for DNA and mRNA extraction from tumor. Ethics Committee has approved the Breast Cancer BioBank project.

Our steps towards progress:

We have procured the following to achieve our vision to create a bio repository exclusively of breast tissue including tumor and non-tumor specimens, a first of its kind in South India:

  • Thermo Scientific Forma -86 degrees cryostorage refrigerator for the same purpose. This bio repository can store thousands of samples of tissue which can be archived and used for any research involving breast cancer.
  • Sharana trust also has a diagnostics division comprising of a full-fledged Histopathology laboratory, equipped with a state of the art Leica Cryostat CM 1520 and Leica tissue processor. The diagnostics division started in February 2021 and has processed and reported on more than 500 core needle biopsies of patients.
  • The trust also stores paraffin embedded tissue blocks, archives it and uses it for research purposes. Till now we have stored more than thousand tissue blocks including tumor and non-tumor specimens exclusively from the breast. For this purpose we have procured a block storage facility which can store more than 35000 blocks. The Patient consent forms for all the archival and usage of tissue for research is in order and got diligently from every patient.
  • A microtome
  • A grossing station

What we require:

Targeting at giving an end to end comprehensive diagnostic workup for patients suffering from breast cancer, right now for the same purpose we are in the process of procuring an automated Immunohistochemistry staining platform Roche Ventana BMGX. The Management and research of breast cancer is largely driven by whether the cancer is hormone receptor positive or negative which needs to be determined by immunohistochemistry. We are outsourcing this test now which increases the turnaround time of the test and also the archiving of valuable information for future research is lost.

Once the pathology lab of Sharana trust becomes fully functional, we will be processing around 1000 to 1500 specimens of breast diseases every year and archiving a good number of fresh frozen and paraffin embedded blocks which is very valuable for future research in breast cancer. Since Chennai Breast Centre is a comprehensive breast clinic, all the data pertaining to disease characteristics would be available for future research with due consents by the patients.

The current need is to fetch and install IHC Ventana machine. This test is crucial to plan the treatment for every patient. This will also enable us to reduce the cost of testing by 40% for patients.

Ventana costs 38 lakhs including GST.  We are falling short of 8 lakhs for the purchase of Ventana and 2 lakhs for 2 months running cost of the path lab.

We are looking for help from philanthropists to help us bridge this deficit of 8 lakhs either partially or fully. We are one of the few Trusts which clearly give you a break-up of the use of proceeds. You will know exactly how your contribution helped the community.

For details of other contributions please visit our website www.sharanatrust.org or write to us: sharanatrust@gmail.com

We believe that every woman has the right to quality breast cancer treatment, right to save her own life and enhance the quality of living. Surviving breast cancer should not depend on who you are and certainly not on your economic status in the society.

Online transfers may be made in favour of:
Bank Name : State Bank of India
Savings A/C.No. : 30462272089
IFS Code No : SBIN0011732
MICR NO : 600002154
Branch : M.R.C.Nagar
Chennai 600028

Donations are eligible for exemption from Income Tax under 80G DIT (E)No.2(719)09-10 dated 26.05.2010. The trust has 12AA & approval for registration of the entities for undertaking CSR activities.

We the trustees welcome you to  join hands with us in creating a state of the art facility for breast cancer research in India.

Thanks & Regards,

The Trustees

  1. Selvi Radhakrishna (Founder & Managing Trustee), breast oncoplastic surgeon treating breast cancer patients for 32 years. She is the founder of Chennai Breast Centre, a comprehensive breast clinic and hospital running for the past 14 years treating over 2500 new patients with breast diseases every year.
  2. Venkat V Ramakrishnan is a cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon currently working at the regional St. Andrews Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns in Chelmsford, Essex.
  3. Chandrakanth Kankaria, the director of Olympia Group Private Limited
  4. M C Srikanth is a practising Chartered Accountant
  5. Vishalla Vairavan, founder, the FANTASMO a graphic studio
  6. Archana Ramanakumar heads Global delivery for a large IT services firm in India
  7. Sridevi Subramanian, coordinator at Chennai Breast Centre

 

 

September 2021

Engal Utsav Plan

Plans for the annual event Engal Utsav is brewing…brewing…brewwwwing like a nice sulaimani tea on rainy day. Like the aroma of spices blending with tea, the plans for the are on…interactive sessions by doctors, experts, songs, group movement, diet and more to look forward…

Support Group Meeting

A ‘continuous improvement’ is a constant mantra at CBC. We believe that direct feedback & suggestions from the visitors, patients and attenders motivates us to serve the community better. So we consistently search for ways to improve different departments at Chennai Breast Centre.

The September support group meeting was an hour of feedback session…both positive and negative. It was very helpful. The genuine, constructive and valuable suggestions from our participants brought important discussions to our table at Chennai Breast Centre. The session gave us the wings for rejuvenated goals, strategies. More importantly the insight that ‘care’ is mutual; that the affection of participants was evident. Thanks to all the participants of the session!!