7 August, 2023: A first of its kind, Care conference to dispel myths and stigmas on cancer, was held by Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) India in Mumbai. RMHC India, operates the Family room of the outpatient department of the Pediatric Haematology-Oncology of Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children. Crucial care and comfort to families of the kids who are suffering from cancer is provided there.
The Care conference saw a turnout of notable speakers like –Officer in Charge, ImPaCCT Foundation, Tata Memorial Hospital and Director & Board Member, RMHC India Shalini Jatia; Sr. Counselor at St Jude Childcare Centre; a Senior Pediatric Oncologist Mrunal Marathe, and parents of children who were fighting against the dreaded disease and those who had recovered from it. The other attendees were nurses, hospital staff, oncologists and NGOs that were working with the children who were battling cancer.
The aim of the RMHC India care conference was to provide information on cancer biases, provide inspiration for change and create understanding and supportive communities. Post the discussions the main observations were the misconception about cancer being contagious, the hesitation and fear surrounding revelation of this disease by the affected for fear of stigma and discrimination, including by close family and friends. It was observed that one fourth of the families abandon the treatment of their children due to the stigma attached to it. The oncologists present at the conference opined that if cancer is detected early it is treatable and can be cured. A positive attitude was critical. The parents play a crucial role in boosting the morale of the kids and assist in the healing process. An open communication with the teachers and school authorities is also needed to make them feel included.
Chairwoman, RMHC India Smita Jatia said, that RMHC India lays emphasis on the need of educational, physical and psychological support for the families of the children. The conference brought together the families of the children who had used their family room facilities with doctors and community experts to discuss the issues that they were facing while fighting the dreaded disease with their children. The widespread misinformation and stigma around the disease was addressed and the morale of the parents was boosted along with breaking the taboos that were associated with cancer. Family centered care is given at RMHC with the objective of enhancing the overall patient and family experience. In its six years of operation, RMHC has touched more than 35,000 lives.
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