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Sri Lanka Cancer Society’s Op Shop celebrates its first anniversary

Because we care...

Indrani Nanayakkara with volunteers
Indrani Nanayakkara with volunteers

Cancer - the word no one wants to hear. Yet, at present cancer cases are rapidly increasing. The World Health Organization identifies cancer as the second leading cause of death globally. According to its reports cancer is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about one in six deaths is due to cancer.

Being diagnosed with cancer affects individuals and families physically, emotionally, financially and socially and can put people in a very vulnerable situation. Is there hope for these people who have lost all hope?

Clinic at Sri Lanka Cancer Society
The Op Shop

Chairperson of Public Education Committee of the Sri Lanka Cancer Society, Indrani Nanayakkara brought a novel concept to the island to help endure what cannot be cured. After her travels to many other countries, she realized an opportunity shop commonly known as `Op-shop’ will be the best way to raise the much needed funds to look after the many cancer patients that reach out for assistance.

“I started the Op shop after travelling to several countries. This concept is not new there. I thought why not we do it here. The generosity of the people is amazing. We get toys, books, clothes, suits and some of them are brand new,” Founder of the Op-Shop, Nanayakkara said.

Since its inception in 1948, the Sri Lanka Cancer Society has provided the utmost care, treatment and relief to countless cancer patients that arrive for treatment from all parts of the country. The Society is now a member of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and conducts services, projects and programmes for the welfare of cancer patients and their families.

The hospice managed by the society provides residential care for terminally ill patients and the homes offer board and lodging facilities for patients coming to Colombo for cancer treatment from remote areas.

“Cancer affects not only the physical but also the psychological and emotional state of the patients. Therefore our facilities promote patients to address their problems as a community. To this effect we have divided our attention to two primary facilities funded entirely by the society and our donors and benefactors, namely the Cancer Home and the Shantha Sevana Hospice,” Nanayakkara said.

“Sometimes patients have to stay for about a month for treatment and they have no place or relative. Most of them are poverty stricken so we provide them with nutritious food, comfortable lodging, nursing, immediate medical attention free of charge. The Cancer Home has been created as a centre for affected patients able to live away from the hospital, the Shantha Sevana is the pioneering institution in hospice care dedicated to providing comfort and assisting those who are terminally ill.

Nanayakkara explained that the Hospice is the brainchild of Perin Captain while Society’s main benefactor isSohli Captain together with many other generous people all over the country. “Shantha Sevana can accommodate up to 80 critically ill patients both male and females. It also has nurse’s quarters and rest rooms for the hospice aides. It is fully equipped with all the necessary requirements and conveniences. These include stainless steel tables, refrigerated storage and a dry goods store,” she said.

“The staff of Shantha Sevana is exemplary humans. The society places great emphasis on the welfare of our staff and we believe that the care we give them will reflect on the care they give the patients. They are well trained and educated on various aspects of patient care. It is a meritorious deed looking after these people,” Nanayakkara pointed out.

However, she laments that the needs are ever increasing and most of the time the society is looking out for more donations. “Patients’ needs vary in the hospice. They need items like pampers which are expensive and we are ever raising funds. We also carry out programmes in out station areas. We buy the patient’s drugs only on prescription and for those who cannot come here we deliver money orders and rations to their homes. So the society has to bear a lot of expenses and we are also short of volunteers to manage the op shop,” Nanayakkara said.

She also uses the op shop as a place to create awareness on preventing cancer. Leaflets and booklets are distributed to customers and they are advised to change their lifestyle. Nanayakkara identifies the excessive use of fast food and lifestyle has the main cause of cancer even in young children. “Here at the Cancer Society in Buller’s Lane we conduct clinics every second Sunday of the month for breast, cervical and oral cancer. Every Friday we conduct blood sugar tests, pressure checks and BMI (Body Mass Index) checks free of charge. As the Chairperson of Public Education, with my colleagues I create awareness because cancer can be prevented. We educate school children, police personnel, women and even parents and conduct island wide seminars. I thank all our benefactors, generous people who have contributed and stood with us so far in this journey of helping to endure if cannot be cured,” she said.


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