Can you give a chance to every cancer patient to survive longer?
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Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states you have the right to have what you need to live a decent life, including food, clothes, a home, and medical care for you and your family. You have the right to get help from society if you're sick or unable to work, if you're older or a widow, or you're in any other kind of situation that keeps you from working through no fault of your own.
I recently lost a co-warrior to cancer who could have survived longer if her family could afford the cost of treatment which could have potentially saved her life. My personal journey with stage IV cancer started 5 years back in a completely devastated state of mind after losing both my parents. After Numerous chemotherapy sessions, planned-unplanned surgeries, losing hair, here I am, still fighting to survive as millions of cancer patients across the world.
We all have seen someone going through the treatment for cancer losing hope, hair, looks and eventually lives attributed to the side effects (nausea, vomiting, weakened immune system) associated with treatment(Chemotherapy, Radiation or Stem Cell Transplantation). But the greatest predicament of any cancer patient is the fear of uncertainty of life and the hope to survive. It is impossible for a common man to understand the perpetual agony and the suffering, a cancer patient has to go through while dividing their time-bound life between hospitals. Ask the heart of a cancer patient, what are their dreams, the only dream is to survive gracefully and not to live helpless at the mercy of others.
Two scientists, Dr. Honjo and Dr. Allison found a miracle therapy to this horribly complex disease and won the 2018 Nobel prize in Medicine for the invention of IMMUNOTHERAPY. Fewer side-effects of immunotherapy help a cancer patient to recover faster, work normally and most importantly regain his will to live since the outcome are painless and with minimal side effects as compared to other treatments. It targets only the cancer cells, spares the normal cells and strengthens the immune system in the process which can prolong life considerably. The cancer is less likely to return with an improved immune system. The one, I personally pursued has brought complete remission in not just me but many others who were diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. A significant proportion of patients experience prolonged remissions even after immunotherapy discontinuation and thus, might be cured as well.
Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, lung cancer are the most common kinds of cancer that doctors treat with immunotherapy. However, it can be used successfully against head-neck cancer, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder cancer, kidney cancer and various sub-types of blood cancer. In a study led by the UCLA investigators, treatment with immunotherapy has improved the five-year survival rate of people with advanced lung cancer. When the study began in the year 2012, the average five-year survival rate was just 5.5 percent for people with this type of cancer.
We Indians are surviving under terrifying levels of Air Quality Index and several other deteriorating environmental factors which will only lead to further incline in the cases of cancer. One recent study states anyone born after 1990 has double the risk. Obviously, India is not alone in this battle. But our challenges are enormous since a large segment of our population is extremely poor and vulnerable. We belong to a country, where there are persistent disparities between rich and poor when it comes to one's chances of beating cancer. But even those who are relatively well off can fall below the poverty line due to a single medical emergency. The problem is grave in rural India where expenditure on health care is the second most important cause of indebtedness, according to a Parliamentary Standing Committee (Report on Health and Family Planning).
We may be making real progress I fight against cancer but you may not even know about it if you are poor and uneducated. The treatment for cancer is a financial drain for the majority, during and after treatment. The idea is that medicines should not be a luxury, the society and the state must step in if the life-saving medicines cost several times a citizen's earning capacity. Every citizen has a fundamental right to live, be it a millionaire, a rickshaw puller or a homeless destitute. Every cancer patient deserves to live a normal life and Immunotherapy provides the opportunity to lead a normal life or even cure with medication like other lifestyle diseases.
The health of the citizens should be the top priority, for both State and Central Government and for that to happen, subsidized rates for life-saving drugs and nationalized healthcare are the need of the hour. Kindly join us to help every cancer patient, to seek Government's help to provide:
1. For free or at least subsidize the rates of immunotherapy drugs.
2. To provide nationalized healthcare to all citizens.
3. To allocate funds in the research and development of potentially the safest cancer drug, immunotherapy, in India.
4. For generic equivalents of the immunotherapy drugs since most of them are imported.
I hope my voice reaches far and wide to create an awakening of consciousness in the Government's system and society. Let us make cancer or any other chronic illness for that matter, a survivable disease.
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