Rose Day is another special day that tells cancer patients that they are not alone in their struggle to fight the disease. Healthcare institutes all across the country observe 22nd September as Rose Day to bring some pleasant moments in the life of the cancer patients.
About Adyar Cancer Institute
Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, India's first woman medical graduate and a social reformer, fulfilled a long-cherished dream; she began the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai.
Dr Reddy had lost her young sister to cancer in 1923. Her sister was being treated at India's only specialised cancer hospital, located in Patna, Bihar. It set her thinking. She could afford to take her sister to Patna. What about the poor?
So Dr Reddy sent her only son, S Krishnamurthy, to the United States, Switzerland and the UK to train in cancer treatment. When he returned, the Adyar Cancer Institute was formed with the objective of providing the best cancer treatment to the poor.
They were joined by Dr V Shanta. As a house surgeon in 1950, she had seen Dr Krishnamurthy work in the cancer unit of the government-run General Hospital. She had heard him talk to large audiences about the plight of poor cancer patients. "It was very moving. I felt I should participate in their effort," she says.
The Institute began with two doctors, Krishnamurthy and Shanta, a single building with minimal diagnostic and therapeutic facilities and a cluster of 12 huts to house the patients. The only cancer hospital in south India, it was established with public donations as a voluntary, charitable, non-profit institution.
It was a very difficult journey. Finances were hard to come by and daily existence was a struggle. It was a frustrating and painful period because people did not understand us. The first thing people asked me those days was, 'Where were you trained?' My reply, 'Here in India, in Madras,' did not make many happy! Dr Shanta, who took over as the Institute's director and chairperson when Dr Krishnamurthy retired in 1979, recalls.
Another person who has been with the Institute since the beginning is Matron Janaki. As she immersed herself in her work, she even "forgot to marry." "I got attached to the hospital, the patients and my work. My life is this hospital because I spend 24 hours a day, 365 days a year here. Even though I am 60, I continue to work here as I have no other home.
Dr Shanta says the Institute grew because of "international philanthropy," especially from Christian organisations. Now, aid is hard to come by because 'they feel India has developed.'
The Institute's first break came on Christmas eve, 1956, when Atomic Energy, Canada, gifted a Cobalt-60 Teletherapy unit (radiation therapy machine); it was the first such unit in Asia.