Sunshine story: This 'doctor' prescribes laughter to kids with cancer
The 'doctor' is Pravin Tulpule, 58, a retired Navy officer, who comes to the ward dressed as a clown to lighten the mood for the cancer patients
The paediatric cancer ward of Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), otherwise tinged with glumness, lights up whenever Dr Laff-a-Lot pays a visit. The 'doctor' is Pravin Tulpule, 58, a retired Navy officer, who comes to the ward dressed as a clown to lighten the mood for the cancer patients there. When he's in character, Tulpule dresses up in colourful clothes and puts on a red nose, after which his goofy alter ego Dr Laff-a-Lot goes from bed to bed cracking jokes and ensuring his audience is left in splits.
No bigger joy
To put it simply, Tulpule says, he does this because, "making others happy makes me happy". "I know I can't cure these children, but I can at least bring them happiness when they are undergoing treatment. There is no bigger joy than this. Other than TMH, I also visit the paediatric cancer ward of Wadia and KEM hospitals," he said.
Tulpule started performing as a clown in 2000, when at the request of a friend he performed a magic show for a group of cancer-affected children. At the show, a small boy kept following him around from the beginning to the end and even clicked photos with him.
A few days later, however, the child succumbed to cancer. "While I was heartbroken, I was relieved to learn that I'd helped fulfil the boy's lifelong wish of meeting a clown. It gave me a strange satisfaction. From that day onwards, I called myself 'Happy the Clown', and made it my life's motto to spread happiness," added Tulpule, who now goes by
Helping parents, too
According to doctors, whenever Tulpule is in a cancer ward, he tries his best to ensure the kids forget about their pain for a while. He makes them do magic tricks and even lets them pull pranks on doctors and nurses. His performances end up helping the patients' parents too. "I have noticed several times that more than the cancer patients, their parents seem to relax whenever I am around. I've had parents requesting me to just show my face to children in the ICU because it gives them happiness even when they are fighting for their life," said Tulpule.
To help the patients even further, Tulpule has set up a crowd funding campaign on the website Milaap, which has so far helped him raise R2 lakh. "I am trying my bit to help these children with their treatment, and spreading the message so that more people can come forward to help," added Tulpule.
Rs 2 lakh
Amount Tulpule has raised for cancer patients so far
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