Childhood cancer survivor group, Ugam, will celebrate its fifth anniversary

At the Tata Memorial Hospital, groups of youngsters and children from the self-help group Ugam gear up for the group’s fifth anniversary. The occasion will be celebrated this morning, at 10 am, at the Choksi Hall of the hospital. The festivities will include cultural programmes, talks by doctors and survivors, a film screening and lunch.

Children rehearse for Ugam’s fifth anniversary celebrations. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

A cancer survivor support programme, Ugam, was started in the year 2009 to solve education, employment and marital issues of cancer survivors.

The programme has more than 200 members — a majority of who are aged between 18 and 25. Celebrations this year will revolve around the theme ‘West Bengal’. Dr Savita Goswami, clinical psychologist says, “This year’s theme is a tribute to the state from where the second highest number of patients hail from, which is West Bengal.”

Shalaka Mane, a teacher and cancer survivor, who will compere the show today, says, “The group has inspired me and helped me grow as a better person. I have made many friends. When I see them, I feel I am not alone.”

Mane’s fellow compere and survivor Vanchinathan Moopanar adds, “Last year, I went on stage for the first time and was part of a skit. But this year, my Ugam friends thought that I should take a step up and so they have asked me to host the event.”
Childhood cancer has a high rate of survival but after beating the disease, many children struggle to deal with societal pressures, says Dr Goswami.

“From education, to jobs, to marriage, it is a big struggle for them. Radiation at a young age means many of them have learning disabilities and physical deformities as well as fertility issues,” she adds.

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