After a long, grueling winter in Delhi, Ramdin is hopeful again, a hope buoyed by the seasonal change with more sunshine and pleasant weather.
It is the first week of March in Delhi and 35 year old Ramdin has every reason to feel happy: after 10 difficult months of chemotherapy treatment at AIIMS hospital for throat cancer, Ramdin has completed his final chemotherapy session. For these past 10 months, Ramdin has been living in a small 10 by 10 house in a slum on rent while working as a gardener for paltry 8000 rupees per month. Despite the difficulties to access the government facilities he knew he had to continue working and stay optimistic in order to support his wife and two young sons, aged ten and seven years besides his elderly parents in his home town. Now, finally, it seems as though those hardships have paid off: He only has to get a PET scan and then he will be off to his village in North India, where his family is eagerly waiting to receive him. Although he will have to return to Delhi every three months for follow-up appointments, he will now be able to cultivate his isolated farmland and begin to be self-sufficient.
However, Ramdin’s long awaited happy dream turned out to be a nightmare - March saw the spread of a deadly killer that was unexpected and seemingly invincible: COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. In the face of this sudden, shocking health crisis, the Indian government decided to impose stringent lockdown measures, preventing people from leaving their houses or using public transport in order to minimize community spread of the virus. The lockdown also affected the hospitals which only began to see coronavirus patients, and many of the medical services and outpatient departments were shut down for an unknown period.
For Ramdin, this sudden disaster turned his rosy future upside down. His gardening job was lost due to the strict lockdown measures, added on to the fact that his plans of returning to his home town to reunite with his daughter and parents were now completely shattered. Unable to receive monetary help from the government, as several schemes announced by the Government to support the impoverished people hardly reached the majority of those needing support. Ramdin was struggling to pay his rent, let alone feed his family: he was in dire need of help.
During this period, the home care team of CanSupport, while working more often from home and taking telephone calls, continued to make visits and support cancer patients throughout the Delhi NCR area. It was through this local network in Ramdin’s neighborhood that he learned about CanSupport through another patient.
Once the staff notified CanSupport about Ramdin’s condition, they learned about the lack of food that Ramdin’s family was facing: In fact, for several days, all Ramdin and his family had was only dry rice with salt. As soon as CanSupport’s core unit heard about Ramdin’s urgent need, they immediately informed the CanSupport’s Home Care team. The team quickly dispatched volunteers to distribute a full month’s worth of ration to Ramdin and his family, including pulses, flour, rice, tea leaves, sugar, spices, oil, milk powder and other essential household items. Additionally, the Home Care team reviewed his health and underlying conditions, concluding that the mental stress Ramdin was under had intensified the pain in his neck.
While the Home Care team gave Ramdin medicines to alleviate his pain as well as ensuring they provided him with the food supplies and resources he and his family needed, perhaps the most important and impactful action they took was to reassure and comfort Ramdin that they would always be there to sustain him. It was with this unequivocal statement of support that the CanSupport Home Care team reminded Ramdin that all he needed to do was call them if he ever needed any help. Encouraged by the generosity of complete strangers, Ramdin’s eyes filled with tears, as he remembered how elated he was before the pandemic began: once again, his winter was giving way to spring and the sun was beginning to shine.
(Picture in display is representation of CanSupport Home care Services)
They are many people like Ramdin who need palliative care but they don’t know where to go. While CanSupport is doing its best the reach out to people informing them about their services, we request you to spread the word. Share our Helpline Number 011-41010539 with to all the needy people. Though all CanSupport services are free of charge for patients, the cost of reaching out to patients and caring for them cost Rs. 1500/- per visit per patient.
If you would like to support our cause, please donate at https://cansupport.org/donate
Patient names have been changed to protect their identity.