BACKDROP – WHY WAS PRERNA LAUNCHED?‘
CANCER’ is a dreaded word and largely equated with death for those who do not understand it. A variety of reactions are encountered amongst patients, and well-wishers at the time of diagnosis, and as they go through the treatment period subsequent to the diagnosis, it is full of unwarranted denial, disbelief, anger, worry, distress, frustration, depression etc. – though not necessarily in the same order. Yet others remain blissfully ignorant of the disease. All such patients, their well-wishers and care-takers require a lot of counselling, reassurance and information to help them be receptive to the treatment, and battle the disease. Counselling by trained cancer survivors, care-givers, social workers, para-medical staff and oncologists is an essential part of present-day cancer management. In patients it instills confidence born from knowledge and courage born from the confidence. This results in a wholesome healing process.
PRERNA was launched on 21 Nov 2002, under the aegis of AWWA, at Army Hospital(R&R), Delhi Cantt. It is a tri-services organisation, headed by a Chairperson appointed from the Army, with volunteers from Army, Navy & Air Force. Spouses/ children of ex-servicemen are also welcome volunteers. The members of this orgaisation work along with the medical and para medical staff, to provide patients with comprehensive care and help them develop confidence and a positive attitude.
The aim of PRERNA is to provide the requisite social and emotional support to patients suffering from cancer and their caretakers, through counselling sessions by trained volunteers.
The scope of PRERNA can be grouped into three parts as patient, disease and administrative related activities with activities as under:- (a)
- Patient Related Activities:
- Provide general information about cancer and its treatment to patients and relatives. Take away misgivings by means of pamphlets, talks and group discussions.
- Provide emotional support and counselling to patients, relatives before & during treatment.
- Arrange special bras & help in fitting mastectomy patients with prosthesis on as required basis.
- Arrange for entertainment by organizing competitions, tambola and celebrating all national days and festivals with them.
- Encourage compliance of treatment and follow up by patients.
- To provide facilities to enhance the oncology wards environment.
- Disease Related Activities:
- Spread awareness on how to prevent or early diagnosis of cancer.
- Activate preventive measures based on information, especially tobacco.
- Administrative Activities:
- Liaise with administrative authorities and provide requisite administrative support (postings/ attachments/ school admissions) for patients based as per requirement.
- Recruit cancer survivors and care givers as volunteers to join PRERNA and conduct Orientation &Training programs for them.
- Form branches of PRERNA at other oncology centres and liaise with respective command AWWA/NWWA/AFWWA offices.
PRERNA ACTIVITIES – AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT WE DO
Each day of the week sees at least two PRERNA volunteers visiting the wards allotted to them. Each ward is covered at least twice a week.
Apart from giving emotional support, the patients are also advised on
- the importance of a balanced diet & good hygiene
- counselled on coping mechanisms for chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery & other treatments
- benefits of positive attitude, exercises, prayers etc discussed
OPD days: social workers provide emotional support; help in Prosthesis fitting & explain prosthesis care. Arm exercises taught to patients who have undergone mastectomy.
Children patients: volunteers visiting children wards read stories to them, play games with them, and help them with their studies. A small PRERNA Library loans out books and toys to the children.
Supplementary therapies: like reiki, meditation, yoga, bhajans, etc are organized. These go a long way in helping patients cope with the trauma of the disease and cure.
Regular & special programs held:
- Orientation programs
- To initiate new volunteers and help them to be informed & structured while extending emotional support to patients.
- Volunteers are taken to all wards, OPD, Chemo & Radiotherapy Centers.
- Literature and handouts are shared.
- Handouts on Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Cancer Awareness- o help spread awareness and increase knowledge about cancer and strengthen patients to battle the disease Regular distribution to patients -
- Also kept at Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy Centers.
- Printed in Hindi & English for better comprehension.
- Given during PRERNA talks to various welfare units.
- Regular celebrations
- Tambola is a great success. Ten minute talks on ‘positive thinking’ between tambola rounds. Patients go back happy.
- Bhajans done every Friday & Prasad given.
- Festival celebrations
- Traditional celebration of all festivals with volunteers going to spend time with patients is a huge motivation for all.
- all National days celebrated. - Children’s Day & Christmas celebrated for the entire Paediatric Ward.
- X’mas Party organized for children at the Playroom.
- A goody bag given for each child.
- Competitions & games organized.