Karunashraya, the "Home of Compassion" that extends palliative care to end stage cancer patients has completed sixteen years of service on 1st May 2015. It was on this day in 1999 that Karunashraya admitted its first patient. Every year on 1st May Karunashraya celebrates Memorial Day dedicated to the patients, their attenders and past patients attenders or care givers. Our well wishers and volunteers also join in. It is an evening of entertainent with high tea and patients or attenders who wish to speak are given two minutes each to express themselves. The words spoken at this time are very touching and one sees that it brings a tear to many an eye in the audience.
Awareness about Karunashraya's services has been spreading and now a steady stream of patients are seeking admission. Since January 2015 a total of 723 patients have been admitted. This does not include the patients being attended to by the Home Care team. To be able to take care of more patients two more wards are being built and this is expected to be competed by March 2016.
At Karunashraya the patients receive not only medical attention to take care of their physical discomforts but also sessions with counsellors to tend to their spiritual as well as mental problems. One such good case study is that of Lakshmi who was suffering with cervical cancer. She was married and had a son and two daughters of which the younger one who was a year old was given away by her husband to an orphanage and adopted by someone . Later, her husband deserted her and married again. He had two children from this second marriage. Lakshmi's son wanted to become a goldsmith and left home to be trained in this field. She was left to bring up her daughter which she found very difficult and this forced her to send her elder daughter who was just 12 years old, to her husband to be taken care of. Here she was treated as a servant , made to do all the housework and not allowed to go out of the house. When she grew older she was married off to a man from Mysore and years later she came to know that she had a sister who was given away to an orphanage and she managed to trace her and get in touch with her. Both sisters were very angry with the mother as she had deserted them. When Lakshmi came to know that she was terminally ill she wanted to contact her family members, reconcile with them and die peacefully. The family members on the other hand were not readily willing to come and meet her. This is when the counsellors stepped in and with their concerted and persistant efforts the family members came together again, met Lakshmi regularly and she died peacefully as she wished to.
The wards in Karunashraya have an ambient atmosphere that helps patients to relax after admission. The nursing staff who look after the patients are taken care of by the senior staff and sisters by making sure theyhave enough entertainment to destress themselves.
The donations received from you the donors has helped us to maintain the ambience in Karunashraya and to provide food and medicine to the increasing number of patients. On behalf of the benefiting patients and the organisation we wish to thank all of you, the donors. Do continue to spread the word about our work amongst your friends and family members so that the donations keep coming in.
It is almost three months since this project got underway and generous donors have contributed over US$2500/- towards this cause.
At Karunashraya, in the last three months we have admitted 375 patients, all of whom were in the last stages of cancer. The same period saw 179 deaths and a few patients discharged when they were feeling better. These patients come back later when the disease progresses further. The patients and their families are happy to see the patient get a clean bed, food and medicines in time and all this without a financial burden. It is not only these things that comfort the patient. He is under so much of stress along with his immediate family members. The counselors we have at the Hospice do a tremendous job releiving them of this stress. Many times we find them not accepting the situation and hoping to find a cure. It is a tough job convincing them and getting them to come out of the denial stage and then the acceptance.
Joseph's was one such case. He was just 22 years old, had obtained his Masters in Business Administration and about to start working.His father was a daily wage earner just managing to support his family's basic requirements. Joseph used to load sugarcane bundles onto lorries in the night for which he used to be paid Rs.3000/- per month i.e say 60 to 70 US dollars. He was elated when he finished as he could now earn well and look after his parents who had toiled so hard all these years. Then the dreaded disease struck and Joseph was diagnosed with lung cancer which was already in the last stage. They spent around Rs.3 lakhs(US$6000) on treatment taking loans from various sources. Both patient and family were in denial until the counselor did a few sessions with them.After the acceptance, the mother was always in tears so much so the father did not have any family member he could talk and share his sorrows with. He never spoke about his thoughts and no one saw him crying at any time. The counselor took him aside and when she asked him why he was holding all his feelings inside, he said he had no one to talk to. After a few minutes with the counselor, he broke down and cried his heart out. Joseph was their only son and their only hope for their twilight years. In less than a fortnight Joseph passed away but his father keeps in touch with the counselor and she is able to comfort him and his wife whenever they feel the need and call her.
We sincerely appreciate the thought behind the donations all of you have made which helps us look after these suffering patients giving them much needed solace in their last days.
We have been having a rush of patients coming in to Karunashraya and we have had to shift some staff whose offices could be converted to wards for patients. This way we have accomodated five more beds and now there is a total of 55 beds. More awareness creating events, programs on the T.V., articles in newspapers etc have brought more patients to Karunashraya seeking pain relief through Palliative Care. The constant requirement for more beds has made our Board of Trustees decide to build two more wards which will mean 24 more beds. Work on this project is just about to start off as we have got permission from the authorities for putting up the building. In the six months January to June 2014 we have cared for 654 patients admitted to Karunashraya and another 113 under our Home Care Services.
On the 1st of May 2014, Karunashraya celebrated Memorial Day as it was on this dat that our first patient was admitted in the year 1999. This Day is mainly for the patients, the nursing staff who take care of them and also for the relatives of ex-patients and a number of them turn up to celebrate the day with us. Entertainment and high tea are provided to all attendees and the highlight of the evening is usually the two minute talk by two present patients, and two expatient relatives.
In May the 10K Marathon took place and this is a platform for NGO's to create awareness and also to raise funds. We had a couple of MNC's whose staff ran for us.
We are getting a new set of curtains for the wards and the money that comes in through this platform has helped us to do this. Our sincere thanks to you donors for keeping this project going.