Ask the Guru The Hidden Culture

Holistic Well Being for Cancer Patients- Satori

Ruby Ahluwalia
Ruby Ahluwalia

Cancer prevalence is growing at an alarming rate all across the globe. Increasingly, cancer has emerged as one of the largest killers in the world and there is an urgent need to revisit our notions and levels of preparedness in dealing with this illness, both in medical and supportive contexts. While models of medical interventions used all across the world for management of cancer are not as expansive as required, they are still fairly accessible.

However, the scenario is quite grim when it comes to recognizing and addressing the psychosocial effects of cancer on the patient and family. Typically, medical management becomes the primary prerogative in cancer treatment and emotional, social, and quality of life deficits often go unnoticed. This could be a direct consequence of the strained medical management system or lack of a holistic perspective for the cure of a disease. Whatever is the reason, there seems to be a strong need for third-party institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private organizations to cater to the rising need for transitional supportive treatments for cancer patients and survivors. 

As a result of my own observations of the above-mentioned gaps, as a stage 3, metastatic cancer patient in 2009 I founded ‘Sanjeevani Life Beyond Cancer’ a cancer care organization which makes holistic care available to underprivileged cancer patients in India, in 2012. Since its inception it has worked with more than 2,50000 underprivileged cancer patients in India through its various programs focusing on Counselling and Handholding, Skill development, Immunity building and Awareness.

SATORI – a signature program run by Sanjeevani…Life Beyond Cancer focuses on achieving a holistic well-being for cancer patients and survivors keeping in view the ‘Eight Principles’ of ‘Patient Centric Care’ by Institute of Medicine. 

This is a 36 session program which focuses on holistic cure and relief in symptoms of modern medicine through a three pronged approach involving intense work with patients on Food, Breath work and Mental constructs. Working on the principle that immunity has a huge role to play in this disease, this program works towards triggering the self healing system of the patients. The sessions on Nutrition, Psychotherapy, Emotional freedom techniques and Yog and Pranayam and Meditation, Pain management techniques, Acupressure etc have been specifically designed for cancer patients. This program has already been attended and followed by more than 26000  cancer patients and survivors till date. 

An impact study on this program was commissioned by Sanjeevani through a research organisation in 2019 to examine the overall gains made in the selected markers of the intervention, along with generating evidence-based estimates of its efficacy. The impact study was done on a sample size of 72 beneficiaries of the program. The result of the study indicated that the program was extremely effective in helping the participants in reducing their negative affect, better cope with physical symptoms of cancer and increasing their overall social, cognitive, and emotional functioning. 

A significant decrease was observed in the participant’s negative affective conditions such as being upset, scared, irritable, nervous, or feeling guilty, many participants reported feeling more in control of their emotions, which led to lower anger and hostility, better understanding of feelings of people around them, and higher inner strength. Specifically, there was a significant reduction in symptoms of dysponea, constipation, and diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, fatigue, and appetite loss among the participants. 

Apart from the above, almost all beneficiaries report that it has transformed their lives and helped them to understand the true meaning and purpose of life and end up looking at cancer as an opportunity to live a more fulfilled life.

As I have mentioned in my book ‘Fragrance of a wild soul’ 

‘Pain in the body is one such intense physical experience, which helps us turn inwards and is therefore a potent opportunity.’

About the author

Ruby Ahluwalia

Ruby Ahluwalia is a civil servant and presently working as Principal Financial Advisor in Central Railways.

In 2009, Ruby was diagnosed with stage-three cancer. After battling for three years and finally beating cancer, she launched her NGO, Sanjeevani Life Beyond Cancer, in collaboration with Tata Cancer Hospital, to work with underprivileged cancer patients.

Her NGO has won numerous national awards and has been doing exemplary work across the country.

She is also a best selling author of her book "Fragrance of a wild Soul".

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