The Live Life Love Life Charity Foundation was formed by Praful Chandawarkar and Suraj Repe, after the two friends lost their wives to cancer. “My wife Cheeru passed away in April 2013 and Suraj also lost his spouse Priya. One day we were talking about how expensive cancer treatment can be, and how people, who cannot afford enough insurance, would be able to get their loved ones treated for this terminal disease. We thought of forming a facilitator, a charity organisation, where every year we would raise funds and give it to NGOs which work towards providing care for cancer patients who are below the poverty line,” says Chandawarkar.
In their first year, they raised funds for Prashanti Cancer Care Mission for offering free chemotherapy, awareness campaigns, early detection camps, and Care India Medical Society which provides in-patient care totally free of cost including admission, investigations, 24x7 nursing and supportive care, diet, stay and guidance. Now in their sixth year, they have raised funds for Prayas Health Group, which has been working in the field of Cervical Cancer since 2010, and Nag Foundation, which provides vaccines (an antibody called Herceptin due to which the chances of cure are very high) for certain types of breast cancer.
“We conduct screening camps in different parts of the city — in corporate offices that have helped us raise money, in urban slums of Pune, in municipal schools, in rural areas. Screening camps are done consistently for cervical cancer and breast cancer. Cervical cancer is completely curable if caught early. But most women don’t go for yearly checks on their own,” says Chandawarkar, adding that the foundation has conducted 7,900 screening camps in the last three years.
They have even commissioned translations of a Marathi documentary on cervical cancer made into several languages like Hindi, Gujarati etc, that are screened at various municipal schools.
Apart from providing financial aid, the foundation makes sure that the patients have access to doctors that have been trained for end-of-life counselling. “Patients who are terminally ill, need the steady hand of a doctor who has good bedside manners and training in psychology to take care of them. They even go to the patients homes to work with them if need be,” says he.
The foundation is also creating funds for Prayas to create an inexpensive test for upper bowel cancer in men. “Once we get the go-ahead from the technology and diagnostics team, we will start offering these tests for men while we have screenings for cervical cancer for women,” he adds.
The foundation has a Facebook page and a website through which people in need can reach out to them. “But mostly it’s the other way around — we reach out to the patients,” says Chandawarkar, explaining, “Through the screening camps, we conduct, if we find someone testing positive, we reach out to them and guide them to a couple of hospitals in the city that we have partnered with, for example Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital. They are then helped by the best doctors to understand what the situation is. In Prayas, we have Dr Vinay Kulkarni and Smita Joshi who have advanced knowledge of these diseases and help out with their extensive network of doctors. We give the patient an end-to-end solution, once they are detected positive. We go through their entire journey with them,” he says.