From chaos to control: Three decades in the continuum of care

A graphic with two overlapping speech bubbles and the caption Voices of Sarcoma.

By Vandana Gupta

My experience of getting a cancer diagnosis was, unfortunately, like that of a lot of other people’s. It took about a year after my first wrong diagnosis for me to finally receive the right one.

It was a time of fear and uncertainty for me and my loved ones. Everything felt chaotic, like my life was out of control. I remember struggling to understand the medical language used by my doctors. I felt so alone.

After going through my own experience with the disease, I felt compelled to help other cancer patients and their loved ones. Once I finished my cancer treatment and beat the disease in 1994, I was moved to establish the V Care Foundation.

One of the earliest non-profits founded by a cancer survivor in India

Age is just a number... the caregivers art and craft activity at the hospital housing

While the V Care Foundation may have had a modest start with one person, its focus was always much bigger: All of us at V Care constantly think about the millions of people who get cancer diagnoses every year and how they and their loved ones are affected.

The purpose of the organisation has always been to improve survivorship and to ensure that no one impacted by cancer has to live alone and experience hardships.

V Care was one of the earliest non-profits founded by a cancer survivor in India. When it was founded, the very idea of a support group was completely new. There was no Google or WhatsApp -- people had to ask for information about their disease or look for it themselves.

Our main focus has always been on patients: Helping cancer patients and their loved ones move from the state of chaos that a cancer diagnosis inevitably brings with it to a state of control is central to the organization's aims.

Spandan: A pioneering support group for sarcoma patients

Can I check on you? At the toy room with our little warriors

Forming  a dedicated support group for patients and caregivers was also an integral part of the development of V Care. In 2015, Spandan (which means “heartbeat” in English) was established for sarcoma survivors, patients and caregivers.

At the time, we were very fortunate to have the support of an orthopaedic oncologist, Dr Manish Agarwal who played a key role to help us establish Spandan. It was formed with the goal of creating a welcoming space where individuals impacted by sarcoma could gather. Many of the young sarcoma sufferers in particular felt a special connection to the name of the group and what it signifies.

And Spandan has indeed become a welcoming space – it provides a platform for people coping with sarcoma to connect, exchange stories, and receive assistance. Patients, survivors, and carers all benefit from the increased understanding and camaraderie that results.

Almost 10 years later, Spandan continues to thrive and serve the sarcoma community. Currently, it has an active WhatsApp group with 146 members, among them even a few doctors.

V Care offers a wide range of patient care initiatives

Visiting patients for a conversation

In recent years, V Care has expanded its service area to include hospitals outside of Mumbai. And what was once merely an emotional support group is now home to a variety of patient care initiatives.

Healthcare providers, the patient community, and carer groups have all had a hand in developing these programmes, which offer a wide range of assistance and services -  everything from wigs, bras, prosthetics, and confidence bags, to information brochures, transportation, palliative care, and even funds.

Our team takes the initiative to empower patients and caregivers, helping them move from chaos to control. The team members are deeply committed to making a difference in people’s lives. The desire to help patients through the challenging physical and emotional process of going from diagnosis to treatment is what keeps V Care going.

A 30-year journey in cancer care an informal school we run at a patient housing

Many lessons have been learnt along this 30-year journey, but one thing has remained the same: We continue to believe that even in little ways, every one of us has the power to change the world.

The choice of the kind of change we want to bring about is totally up to us, and sometimes innovative approaches are necessary to meet the complex demands of cancer care.

V Care always seeks to engage in discussions with healthcare providers and patient families, and greatly appreciates their insightful recommendations. Using our best available resources, we do a deep dive to decide how to make these recommendations workable – the question is always how to best help the people who come to us for support. Financial aid, housing, food, in-kind donations, childcare, informational pamphlets, and much more are all provided to patient families. And what’s more -- patients do not have to pay anything to receive these services.

Bringing control to chaos

Our patient caregivers support meeting

It has been thirty years of making a difference and making good on our promise to spread positivity and love in the cancer community.

Patients, patient organisations, healthcare providers, friends, families, and donor community are working together and bundling their energies and strength to make the world a better place.

As a team, we at V Care are profoundly appreciative of everyone who has been there for us every step of the way in helping us bring control to the chaos that cancer creates.


Photos: V Care Foundation



Vandana Gupta is the founder of V Care and manages a team of 60 dedicated volunteers and 10 employees, leading the foundation’s efforts to provide emotional assistance, financial aid, nutritional support, pediatric cancer support and palliative care. She is a member of the SPAGN Board and is also affiliated with other international organizations. Vandana lives in Mumbai with her family and enjoys doting on her grandchildren in her free time.

1 Comment

  1. Suresh Sundar on June 2, 2024 at 6:46 am


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