Cancer is probably one of the most dreaded words the world over. For many, being told they have it is like receiving a death sentence at the hands of a doctor. Yet the effects of this cruel blow can be minimized, a few comforting words and sound advice can either put a patient on the road to recovery or help them face the future with courage. Realizing the important role counseling can play in the life of a cancer patient, the Assumption Sisters and the Friends of Assumption have established a cancer counseling service at their convent in Calicut, in Kerala called the Marie Eugene Onco Care Centre (MEOK). “We began MEOK, mainly to counsel and advise breast cancer patients on the best treatments available,” said Sister Shanti Pazhettu, director of the center. MEOK, the first cancer-counseling center in the Malabar region, was opened on March 10 to help cancer patients. The centre aims to make use of free hospital services in the region to conduct seminars and check-up camps. Cancer cases are on the rise in our society. Often people succumb to the disease instead of fighting it, mostly due to ignorance and misunderstandings,” Sister Pazhettu said. According to the Regional Cancer Centre in Trivandrum, around 35,000 people contract cancer in Kerala every year. However, a recent medical survey revealed the actual number is doubling annually. Abdul Salim Vayalunkal, a retired government employee, said MEOK is offering a great service since very few people can fathom the trauma cancer patients go through. One patient, Elsemma Kunnoth, said MEOK helped her overcome her fears about the condition. Dr. Durga Prasan, a cancer consultant who led the first awareness camp at the center on April 3, said people are naturally very scared. But they are unaware that cancer is curable, especially if detected in its early stages. “First of all, we want to make people aware that there is nothing to fear.” Nearly 100 people attended the first awareness camp. IB13854.1648
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