Akriti Gupta was merely seventeen years old when she decided to start Canfem, an NGO that caters to the non-medical needs of cancer patients, especially breast cancer. The organization is helping them regain their confidence.
The menace of cancer
Almost ten million people die due to cancer. Research shows that one in six deaths is due to cancer. Female breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer (approximately 11.7 per cent of all the cases). In 2018, there were 18.1 million new cases and 9.5 million deaths. By 2040, the estimates of cancer are believed to be around 29.5 million new cases and 16.4 million deaths.
Cancer is not only physically degenerating, but also affects the life of the people around the patient. Even if the patients manage to live, it has a great toll on their mental health, and more often than not, they lose their self-confidence. The cancer patients feel very self-conscious and some fear even leaving their rooms let alone leaving the house. They feel inadequate and prefer staying alone which affects their mental health even more.
About the Founder
Akriti Gupta had her first personal experience around a cancer patient when her father was diagnosed with cancer. She could fathom the challenges the patient would face from close quarters. It led her to research more about cancer and its severity. Gupta was appalled to notice how common life-threatening disease like breast cancer has become. She had found her life purpose by then. She made up her mind to start Canfem. The vision of Canfem is to break the stigma and taboo associated with cancer, especially Breast Cancer.
Canfem : For the non-medical needs of the cancer patients
Canfem is a non-governmental organization that helps cancer warriors with their non-medical needs. Akriti started Canfem at the young age of merely seventeen years. She graduated from Delhi University in the year 2020. She is now pursuing her Masters from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Gupta has also won many awards throughout the years.
Canfem and its products
Canfem provides breast prostheses and real hair wigs to thousands of people in India. They have also started exporting products worldwide. Over 100,000 people benefited from the knowledge and the awareness programs and campaigns organized by Canfem in just 18 months. More than two thousand people regularly use the products of Canfem and claim that they have a positive impact on their lives.
Managing an NGO during her education years, Ms. Gupta found it tedious to manage her studies in addition to managing a Ngo. The second and more emotionally draining challenge she faced was dealing with the pain of her father’s detection of cancer and seeing his deteriorating health. On top of that, their friends and family pitied them instead of providing moral support.
In their study, they observed the importance of non-medical needs for cancer recovery. The influence of hope and happiness on recovery is scientifically proven. According to Akriti, there are two main things that we, as a society, can do for cancer patients and survivors. Think of them as normal people. “Do not give them pity, but provide them with hope and positivity. One should not treat them as time bombs that might explode soon.” She says.
Winning the YICA award:
Having won the 3M-CII Young Innovators Challengers award allowed Canfem’s entire team to expand their network, see the works of genius, and meet and work with amazing innovators. ” The awards helped us to expand the reach of our products. Now we are a household name. It has given impetus to our mission to break the stigma around it”. Knowing many people has expanded their network and helped Canfem increase its connectivity among the masses. In addition to this, the program helped a large number of cancer patients and their families.
The plans of Canfem include making Canfem a one-stop organization for other needs that can bring moral support, counselling, and support. “We do not want to be a competition to the hospitals but want to work simultaneously with them,” says Akriti. Many women suffering from breast cancer were too shy to even step out of their rooms. Now they are able to go out and work. Canfem has proved its impact.
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