On one side of a single- room tenement, the CanSupport team sits among the family. On the other side of the room, Kamla’s daughter Aanya, practices her latest dance routine, a fusion of traditional Indian dance and American hip-hop. The room is filled with laughter.
Kamla, 43-years-old and the devoted mother of Aanya, Pintoo, and Saavni, has been fighting a five-year battle with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer that causes her white blood cells to divide uncontrollably and impairs their ability to fight infection. Kamla’s life is filled with lighthearted and proud moments, shared often with the CanSupport team whom she now considers family. However, her journey through cancer has been punctuated by severe physical and emotional pain. It might be difficult for an outsider, considering the vibrant energy and positivity in the room, to imagine the amount of pain Kamla and her family has endured in the past six years.
Originally from a village, Kamla now lives in the Northern Delhi slums, far removed from her siblings and parents. She continues to send money to her parents, despite their lack of support through her illness. Generosity and loyalty are ingrained in Kamla’s nature, but money weighs an oppressive and unrelenting burden on her life. Kamla fears for the future financial security of her children, particularly her youngest daughter, Aanya, and teenage son, Pintoo.
Financial disaster struck most viciously one year prior to this account. Kamla’s eldest daughter, Saavni, was arranged to be married, which would be a significant event in Kamla’s life. The marriage of her daughter would realize a dream Kamla had fostered since the day she became a mother. However, in the most unfortunate twist, Kamla’s chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments made an irreparable dent on their family’s savings. Unable to provide the dowry the fiance’s family demanded, the engagement was abruptly called off. This broke Kamla’s heart. She descended into a spiral of grief and despair and felt helpless more than ever. Believing she was a burden on her family, she was consumed by the idea that the only way to help her family was to expedite her death. With this deeply depressed and estranged mindset, Kamla arrived at dusk at the New Delhi metro station with the intention to end her life.
Thankfully, in her last grasp for hope, Kamla dialled the CanSupport helpline. She was connected to a counselor who worked intimately with Kamla and her family for over five years. Gentle words through the phone line eased Kamla away from the tracks and onto a bench where she sat for hours into the night. Unable to face going home, the counselor encouraged Kamla to sit and calm her soul for as long as she needed. For this guidance, Kamla says she owes CanSupport her life.
Routine home visits have continued to pay particular attention to Kamla’s emotional stability and psychological well-being. Holding the philosophy that antidepressants cannot be wholly effective on their own, CanSupport has provided not only the necessary medication, but the humane counseling to Kamla. This has been instrumental in helping her to rebound and find joy in life. Specific counseling also seeks to address the financial source of Kamla’s depression. Small successes add up. Saavni has been encouraged to attain employment at a private financial institution, and Kamla’s husband has begun work as a vegetable vendor with the investment of a pushcart provided by CanSupport.
The CanSupport team visits Kamla in her home every week, as she serves them tea as part of extending her love for them. The word ‘Family’, according to her is not strong enough to describe how she feels about them. With their continued guidance, she feels physically and emotionally pain free, and her whole family is now hopeful for the future. The CanSupport team members now share a deep and irrevocable bond with Kamla. They are just a call away and always by her side to guide her when she needs them.