Learning from her personal experience as a cancer patient, Vandana Gupta pioneered a series of coping mechanisms in 1998 to help people suffering from cancer in India. Through her organization, V Care, Vandana helped address a crucial need given few systems exist in India that offer support for cancer patients and their families.
Vandana has developed a unique voluntary support group primarily run by a group of volunteers who are cancer survivors or caregivers themselves and provide emotional support to cancer patients and their caregivers. She has created a strong peer support system where emotional needs are well understood owing to the nature of the model. Through financial support to cancer patients, V Care’s school for children with cancer, drop-in meetings, a 24/7 helpline and counselling, she is building coping mechanisms where they are critically required. For example, at their school for children suffering from cancer, recreational activities are organized to improve the patient well-being. And, by sharing information on support group programs and methodology of their model, Vandana is promoting the benefits of cancer support groups, and has facilitated the organization of similar groups across the country in the form of partnerships. Since 2007, V Care has supported almost 50,000 patients and worked with 5 hospitals.
Vandana has also been raising awareness with the public about cancer and early symptoms through events such as “Share a Celebration” at Diwali and “Cancer Survivors’ Day”, which has been replicated by partners across the country. V Care has been advocating against tobacco use through partnership programs like the “Voice of Tobacco Victims”. In the next 5 years, Vandana plans on building a cancer patients database, conducting research and studies on the needs of cancer patients and their families, and implementing innovative outreach programs for all stakeholders.
Note: This was updated in August, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile.