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Indian palliative care volunteer receives award at regional lung cancer conference

Aditya Manna, a young Indian palliative care volunteer, was recently awarded the Travel Grant Award at this year’s Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC 2016), organised by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 13-15 May 2016.

Lung cancer experts from several countries in the Asia-Pacific region with a wide range of expertise spanning prevention, treatment, research and care and support fields participated in the event. They were joined by noted lung cancer experts from around the world.

Speaking on this award which brought him much recognition about his important work, Aditya said: “I am happy to work for an organisation which relieves the suffering of cancer patients.

“Volunteering has always been fundamental to the palliative care movement and extending compassion and expanding the range of services by caregivers is vital.”

Aditya reaches the home of terminally ill cancer patients on bike, bus or train, using whatever transportation is available to serve those patients who need palliative care.

The services that they require may be draining of pleural or ascitic fluid, feeding through Ryle’s tube, catheterization, IV fluids or dressing of wounds among other things.

He attends on terminally ill patients at any time of the day or night.

Aditya related the tragic situation of cancer patients who had at times tried to commit suicide to avoid unbearable pain.

Such incidents had motivated him to dedicate himself more to support and educate such patients, family members and neighbours in whatever manner he could.

After finishing his schooling and college education amidst many difficulties, Aditya joined MAS Clinic and Hospital in Tamluk town, which now has a small oncology unit, a dialysis unit and an ICU, apart from other common treatment facilities available. At present he is working in the Oncology Unit of this hospital as a palliative care staff member.

“In order to achieve our mission, we believe that scientific research should be available along with good public policy and strong advocacy,” he said.

Aditya is happy working in the dynamic program at his hospital that educates employees about the nature of palliative care and empowers the staff, as well as volunteers, grantees, doctors and cancer survivors in the rural district of West Bengal, to be proactive.

Though challenging, he says his work is exceptionally rewarding, and it lifts his spirit when providing necessary encouragement and empowerment  to the people he works with.

Aditya’s areas of specialty include: counseling, organising and facilitating training, and providing support services for people with advanced disease.

As a clinical social worker, he has worked for more than 10 years in this field, and hopes to build a programme that meets the unique needs of people with advanced disease.

He says he had met amazing, passionate and dedicated people in his journey of helping these cancer patients. They have all generously given their very precious time and knowledge which had inspired him to continue to enhance his knowledge and practice in palliative care.

He remembers with gratitude Dr Shymal Kumar Sarkar, Dr Aditya Narayan Sen, Dr Dipankar Bhattacharya, Dr Lalit Kumar Khanra, Dr Bhabani Prasad Bhattacharya, Dr Atin Banerjee, his teachers Gouranga Dolai and Asit Baran Manna, all the staff at MAS Clinic and Hospital, his family members, cancer patients and their family members and his best friends Ananda and Bikash including Munu (Sampati).

“I am especially grateful to Dr Dipankar Bhattacharya, Director of our Hospital, who encouraged me to carry this work inspite of my hospital duties without clipping my wings,” said Aditya.

According to Aditya, the Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference achieved it goal of spreading awareness sharing of knowledge on new development on the subject.

Palliative care and cancer is a highly sensitive subject and deserves extensive study, so that remarkable progress on the matter can be achieved to reduce pain, suffering and other allied symptoms of cancer.

Aditya said: “The sharing of knowledge and experience occasioned by this conference may lead to innovative ideas with respect to cancer care and also will be helpful for caregivers and volunteers like me.”

You can read more about Aditya’s work on ehospice, and find out more about the Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference online.