The fourth guest of Podcast MD by Ketto was Smriti Shivdasani. Smriti lost her mother to cancer and 8 years later, she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having lost both her parents to cancer, Smriti began questioning everything in her life. In Jan 2019 she was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer. She had already been through 2 bouts of cancer in 2012 and Jan 2018 affecting different parts of her body. But she put up a fight again and survived cancer the third time. She believes it was because of her Buddhist practices that imparted her with the strength to sustain the will to live. She believes that it is important to let go of all the negativity and judgments to heal the body from diseases. She says she blended a bit of Hooponopono, a Hawaiian healing technique with Jin Shin Jyutsu, the Japanese art of balancing the meridian along with Donna Eden’s methods of balancing energies to set her body on the path to recovery. Here is an edited excerpt from our conversation with Smriti:
Tell us about your struggle against cancer
In Jan 2019 I was in a situation where I basically had 4th stage cancer. I had already been through 2 bouts of cancer (2012 and Jan 2018) affecting different parts of my body. Being diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer was a devastating experience. However, I managed not to succumb to despair. My 15 years of Buddhist practice and 5 years of training as a professional in the field of life transformation held me up. Over the course of the next 8 months, I chose to honor myself, my body, my life through the choices I made in my words, thoughts and deeds and eventually the effects started accumulating. My recent tests revealed that the tumors had shrunk and not active anymore. I have realized that illness is a wake-up call that we must pay heed to.
How do you think you were able to cope up with cancer?
I think cancer is a call to love. Having lost both my parents to cancer and then being diagnosed with cancer myself, I was in a state of despair. I asked myself ‘how much more do I have to put up?’. How I was able to cope up with cancer at such a fast pace is because I was not dealing with it alone. My friends rallied around me and were a constant source of support. I also believe that attitude makes a lot of difference in recovering quickly. I don’t think my body wanted to live with me. I was so obsessed with my work that my body was overworked. And that was a big call, the realization that I needed to rest and take care of myself. I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself because I didn’t have a sense of love for myself and that was a wake-up call.
How are you currently living with the realizations from your cancer experience?
Having explored multiple careers after my post-graduation degree in Businesses Management, my life took another direction when I saw Cancer at close quarters, losing my parents to it and going through it personally. My never-give-up attitude led me to explore the field of alternative healing. Little did I know that I was stepping into what I was truly born to do: facilitating change by empowering people. I now invest my time in facilitating Access Consciousness workshops, conducting coaching and mentoring programs, and working with people on a one-on-one basis.
What were the symptoms you felt before the onset of cancer?
I never thought that the constant headaches, the frequent colds and back pain were a way of my body trying to give me information. I believe our body has a tendency to lock up everything that is projected on us by the people around us. It keeps a score of the trauma and all the experiences we face. It’s a concept in Buddhism too wherein we are a product of our thoughts, deeds and words. In my case, every bitterness, ache and hurt was manifesting itself as a disease.
How do you think one should cope-up with all the stressors of modern life?
Let go. Let go of everything that makes you unhappy, bitter, and resentful. Let go of your negative point of views, habits, and judgments. These destroy your body. Look at life from a different perspective. Life is beautiful if we allow it to be. And laugh as laughter heals.
Podcast MD by Ketto with Kunal Kapoor Season One’s third episode featuring- Dimple Parmar (Founder – Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io) Wife & Caregiver of Late Nitesh Prajapat Shares Her Journey After Losing Her Husband To Colon Cancer.
Podcast MD by Ketto’s third guest is Dimple Parmar, the founder of Love Heals Cancer. Nitesh Prajapat and Dimple Parmar got married after they discovered that he had Stage 4 colorectal cancer. They launched Love Heals Cancer in January 2018 to provide support, information, and services to help people in their battle against cancer. A tribute to her late husband Nitesh, Love Heals Cancer is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping cancer patients live longer and better lives. Dimple and Nitesh’s journey started in IIM Calcutta where both of them were grad students. An alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and studying in IIM-Calcutta, Nitesh had founded Appeti, a curated online marketplace. While completing his MBA in 2016, he met Dimple, who was working on her own startup, Zaple, at the campus. They quickly connected and became good friends. Nitesh was diagnosed with cancer after he went for a checkup for severe back pain and constipation. Dimple talks about all the difficulties Nitesh had to go through during chemotherapyandcancer treatment including the side effects of treatment that wreaked havoc on his physical health. Dimple believes it’s important for caregivers to distribute their responsibilities of taking care of the patient to avoid burn-out. In his final days, Dimples opens up about how Nitesh transformed completely as a person and was more cheerful than ever before. She attributes the positive changes to a strong support system Nitesh had in the US, alternate healing practices, and a complete change in his diet. Here is an edited excerpt from our conversation with Dimple:
How and when did you guys find out about cancer?
We became friends after I met Nitesh during the time when we were both working on our start-ups. I didn’t find him much friendly but it all changed when he came back after a 3-month break. He also started getting sick more often and complained about severe back pain and constipation. After the doctor recommended a biopsy, it was found that he had Colon Cancer. This came as a shock to both of us. It was hard to accept that a young man who is very active, seemingly healthy, will have to fight against cancer. Spontaneously, I became his primary caregiver as he underwent Radiation Therapy followed by surgery. He was broken, but managed to rise above the initial shock, and, with his family’s support, started treatment. He approached his health condition in a logical manner, believing there was a solution to every problem.
How did you guys decide to get married?
Over the course of treatment, I began to develop a kind of empathy for him. He was a smart, intelligent, ambitious young man. He was a very good human being. I wanted to fight his battle with him. Nitesh moved to Mumbai for treatment and then came back to college in Calcutta after some months. That is when we decided to move in together. We got to know about each other more and more, and we fell in love. Nitesh underwent surgery. He was under continuous treatment and had numerous cycles of chemotherapy, while we were still in college. One day, he expressed his love for me and asked me if I would marry him. I said ‘yes’. On the day of our graduation in 2017, we got engaged on the campus in Tata Hall 213. We got married in August and seven days later, moved to the US to participate in clinical trials.
What was Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment like?
Cancer eats away the physical and mental health of not only the one affected by it, but also the patient’s loved ones.The treatment was filled with interventions, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. And later when nothing worked, we opted for clinical trials. Just when we thought we had defeated the dreaded disease, a post-treatment scan in June showed that the disease had metastasized to his lungs, pelvis, and other abdominal areas. There were a total of 12 tumors. I saw Nitesh suffer immensely as he was undergoing treatment. I want to share with you the taboo that exists around cancer in our society and how ingrained it is in our minds. When Nitesh was told that as part of the surgery procedure, he would have to be fitted with a ‘poop bag’, he was so ashamed that he didn’t even want to undergo the surgery. He was willing to die than have a ‘poop bag’ attached to his body.
Chemotherapy was worse. When a person undergoes chemotherapy it affects them psychologically too. They want to withdraw into a shell. They become so sensitive that they get irritated by the slightest sound or even dim light. It’s due to a condition called neuropathy, a side-effect of cancer treatment where if a person is even touched, it feels like a current. Some weeks are okay but most are bad. The chemotherapy was so hard that Nitesh no longer had a problem with the ‘poop bag’.
Tell us something about your organization Love Heals Cancer?
Nitesh constantly pondered upon how millions of people suffer from cancer and how can we give them hope and support them through their journey. He was the epitome of strength and willpower, and in his last days, he redefined joy with his infectious smile. It was his wish that we help people undergoing similar circumstances and how Love Heals Cancer (LHC) started.
LHC is a community of patients, caregivers, survivors, volunteers, individuals, and organizations, dedicated to providing love and support to cancer patients around the world. Our primary aim is to help cancer patients and their caregivers to find extensive healing options and improve their quality of life. The core belief is that in addition to regular treatment, extending warmth, love and support to cancer patients can play a huge role in healing them.
What was your experience as a caregiver during Nitesh’s cancer treatment?
I think it’s important for caregivers to distribute their responsibilities of taking care of the patient to avoid burn-out. Sometimes I would feel burned out because I wasn’t taking time for my own self and that’s something we all need to understand. You can only take care of someone when you are doing well yourself. Cancer treatment makes the patient overly sensitive. How you behave directly impacts them. So, if you feel burned out, it’s a good idea to distribute responsibilities among other family members or simply take some time off for yourself. Another thing I believe is that caregivers should undergo counseling because none of us knows by default how to take care of someone who is suffering from cancer. It helps to have someone who can help us understand our own emotions with respect to what is happening.
DISCLAIMER: This podcast and its content is an intellectual property of Ketto Online Ventures Pvt Ltd and are subject to copyright. The views expressed are personal and with no intention to harm the sentiments of any individual/organization.
The second guest on Podcast MD by Ketto, Sanjukta Sharma, is a journalist and writer based in Mumbai. She is also an ovarian cancer survivor. She has worked in various publications including The Indian Express, Tehelka and the Mint. At the start of 2017, Sanjukta quit her full-time job after feeling overworked. Her tiredness was accompanied by bloating and other symptoms of cancer. Her brother, who is also a doctor asked her to undergo a CT scan as a precautionary measure. After undergoing a CT scan, her doctor found nodularity along the lining of her uterus. She had to undergo a removal surgery, but while performing the surgery, her doctor found that the tumor was malignant.
In Jan 2018, she finished her Chemotherapy sessions and was declared cancer-free. Sanjukta, an advocate of Mistletoe therapy, believes that letting go is vital for the healing journey. She says it’s essential to spend time with one’s self in order to heal. She also recommends dietary measures that help with the recovery process, which includes limiting the intake of refined sugar and carbs. She believes that timely gene testing can help take preventive measures against gene mutations which can lead to cancer. Having undergone a tough time during her treatment, she has many insights regarding what challenges cancer patients have to face during treatment and how to tackle them.
During her cancer treatment, Sanjukta also underwent a lot of mental turmoil, including emotional outbursts and complete breakdown. During this time, her husband was constantly there by her side to take care of her. Knowing that it was also hard for her husband and what he went through during the course of the treatment, Sanjukta recommends that caregivers should also go through counseling so they know how to manage such a stressful situation. Interestingly, Sanjukta thinks that Chemotherapy wasn’t the hardest part of her treatment as the medicines the doctor gave her took care of the side effects caused by Chemotherapy. Personally, Sanjukta believes that the market for cancer treatment is huge with therapies available to patients, and to avoid getting tangled in multiple things one should simply choose one or two therapies and stick with them. She recommends reading the book ‘Longevity Diet’ to make a positive change in lifestyle and live a healthy life.
Sanjukta believes that there is a lot of shame around cancer, especially for women who also end up losing their hair during treatment. Given how much taboo exists around cancer in India, Sanjukta believes that patients need to be empowered. She also thinks that Doctors need to explain more to their patients as to how the treatment will affect the patient. Additionally, she believes the doctors should also be more receptive to their patients’ suggestions as they are the ones having to deal with the side effects and pain. At a personal level, Sanjukta feels every patient should try to spend more time listening to what their body is trying to tell them. “You have to be gentle with yourself,” she says.
Podcast MD by Ketto with Kunal Kapoor Season One’s first episode featuring – National award-winning filmmaker Teenaa Kaur Pasricha
The first guest of season one was Teenaa Kaur Pasricha, a National Award winning film-maker and screenwriter. Raised up in Ajmer, Rajasthan Teenaa was brought up in a middle class family. Her documentary ‘1984: When the Sun didn’t Rise’ has won multiple awards in competitions across the world. ‘1984, When the Sun didn’t Rise’ is a documentary film that journeys into the Widow’s Colony of New Delhi where 3,000 widows and their families were resettled after the Sikh massacre of 1984. It tells the story of three brave women who fight for justice while negotiating personal trauma and earning a livelihood for their families. “I used to be very depressed while I was shooting, as I was absorbing the emotions of these women who were narrating their horrific experiences,” Teenaa says.
For Teenaa, it was a difficult journey, but also a very fulfilling one as she got to know stories of countless women who were affected by what happened in 1984. Teenaa was awarded the prestigious fellowship in screen- play writing by Time Warner foundation supported Asia Society, New York for her first feature film screenplay “The Red Autumn” in 2013-14. She has worked with India’s largest Broadcaster, Zee TV as a Promo Producer and a Core team member of Trends Ad films on producing TV Commercials. Teenaa was diagnosed with Breast Cancer right before she came to know that her film had won a National film Award for ‘Best Investigative Film’ in 2018. Her doctor recommended her to receive the award after undergoing a surgery, which she did. Her Chemotherapy sessions began right after she received the award.
One year later, she was sharing her experience with the audience at a TEDx event. Teenaa hopes to clear the Taboo that Breast Cancer is surrounded with. Teenaa is a firm believer in the power of Homeopathy, Ayurveda and raw food diet. She believes the combination of these three things helped her cope up with the side effects of chemotherapy and live a healthier life too. For her diet, she starting eating sprouts and switched rice with millets. She also wants to spread awareness about the taboo that exists around breast cancer in the Indian society where she believes people are still hesitant to talk about it. She is of the opinion that women need to get regular check-ups done, so that life doesn’t spring surprises on them.
Breast cancer awareness according to her is an important women’s health issue that unfortunately isn’t discussed publicly- something she believes must change. Overall, Teenaa had to undergo a combination of Radiation therapy, surgery and Chemotherapy. Radiation therapy was the easiest part of the treatment for her as it didn’t involve going through terrible side-effects like in the case of Chemotherapy. For Teenaa, cancer put her life in perspective as she was able to reflect on things that matter to her. “All the things that weren’t in my life completely disappeared from my mind,” she says. After finishing her cancer treatment which lasted for 6 months, Teenaa has started travelling more often, something she says brings fulfillment in her life. Teenaa’s journey of fighting cancer was an uphill battle but her strong and positive attitude allowed her to bounce back in life.
In our short history of 7 years, we’ve had the opportunity to be closely involved with how India’s social sector has evolved. Over the last few years, the benchmark has been continually raised by both individuals and organisations, working tirelessly to create meaningful and sustainbale impact.
We at Ketto felt it was the right time to launch Ketto Awards to celebrate and recognize initiatives driving positive change in India with the objective of inspiring others to get involved in creating meaningful and sustainable impact.
Our panel of three renowned judges from across diverse walks of life deliberated over a comprehensive list of nominees, to select a list of winners that includes prominent NGOs and individuals who have addressed social challenges and are in the endeavor to improve the communities in which they operate.
The inaugural edition of Ketto Awards features ten categories: Best Start-Up NGO, Best Indian NGO of the Year, Best International NGO of the Year, Best Social Entrepreneur, Young Changemaker, Social Media Influencer, Lifetime Achievement, Best Digital Media Campaign, Best CSR Campaign, and Best Social Celebrity.
The jury comprised of:
Sheila Nair – Director of Resource Mobilization in the Cancer programme of Tata Trusts
Thomas Chandy – Founder and CEO of Save the Children .
Yashwant Deshmukh – Communications professional with an eclectic range of experience as a journalist, pollster, evaluation expert, and international observer.
Here are the winners of the Ketto Awards 2019:
Best Start-Up NGO – ConnectFor
Established in December 2015, ConnectFor matches an individual’s skillsets and time with suitable volunteering options in NGOs, which in turn helps those NGOs that cannot afford to hire people for ancillary. The start-up’s intervention has played a decisive role in enhancing hundreds of NGOs’ performance. Till date, ConnectFor has successfully matched over 11,323 volunteers with suitable organizations. These volunteers have clocked in over 29,000 hours of work and have saved NGOs over Rs 68 lakh.
Best Indian NGO of the Year – Aditya Mehta Foundation
Started in October 2013, the Aditya Mehta Foundation (AMF) aids differently-abled athletes to pursue sports while providing self-sustenance. They conduct national training camps across the country and provide counseling, funds, equipment to athletes and train them from the grassroots level which helps them grow in their sport, compete and win at various global sporting events. The foundation has helped Harish Varma, the only Para-Arm Wrestler who won two medals at the World Arm Wrestling Championship and Subramanian Balachandar, who finished the Bangkok Cup 2018 with a silver medal in the doubles category and bronze in the singles. AMF plans to train at least 100 para-athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as well as build two sports academies and open rehab centers for the differently-abled.
Best International NGO of the Year – Habitat For Humanity
Founded in 1976, Habitat For Humanity has been devoted to building simple, and affordable housing across the world. Through their exceptional work, they have created over 5 lakh homes in Nigeria, and nearly 2 lakh homes in the Asia-Pacific region. In the three years since the 2015 Nepal earthquake, HFH supported 45,829 families with relief and shelter interventions ranging from shelter kits to permanent housing with access to water and sanitation facilities.
The organization carried out a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for victims of the Kerala floods which saw 540 supporters raising over Rs 40 lakh.
Best Social Entrepreneur – Disha Mullick, Khabar Lahariya
Disha Mullick is currently the Director – Outreach and founding trustee of the Women, Media and News Trust, which produces the award-winning rural newspaper, Khabar Lahariya. It is India’s first digital rural news network, run entirely by women. Published in nine different dialects, Khabar Lahariya has been weaving a strong feminist dynamic in rural corners of India, addressing issues of gender and education.
In 2004, Khabar Lahariya was awarded the prestigious Chameli Devi Jain Award for Women in Journalism. In 2009, the newspaper was awarded the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, followed by the Laadli Media Award for gender-sensitive reporting in 2012. The newspaper also went on to win the prestigious Global Media Forum Award in 2014 given by the German media channel Deutsche Welle.
Young Changemaker – Ananya Birla
Ananya is the founder of Svatantra Microfinance, a company that provides microfinance to women in rural India. She is also the founder of CuroCarte and co-founder of Mpower. The young and energetic woman has been a crusader for creating awareness about mental illness. Her organization, Mpower aims to help create a society where people with mental health concerns and their caregivers receive professional support, care, and acceptance to facilitate their recovery without facing discrimination or shame.
She’s striving to rejig the public perception of people coping with mental health concerns, and facilitate recovery without facing discrimination or shame, whilst simultaneously bringing change to policy and public life.
Lifetime Achievement – Devika Bhojwani
She is the Vice President of the Women’s Cancer Initiative at Tata Memorial Hospital. Under her aegis, the TMH has supported hundreds economically deprived women with breast cancer to complete their prescribed treatment with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and rehabilitation therapy.
The foundation has undertaken numerous initiatives to create awareness and emphasize the importance of early detection. Her path-breaking guidance has led over 25,000 new cancer patients registering in TMH every year, the majority belonging to the underprivileged sections of the society. The Initiative’s core activity comprises material support of socially and economically disadvantaged women who are diagnosed to have breast and gynecological cancers.
Best Digital Media Campaign – Goonj (Odha Do Zindagi)
This Delhi-based NGO Goonj, through their “Odha Do Zindagi” programme, has been able to reach out to hundreds of underprivileged people on the streets of New Delhi providing them with winter essentials such as woolens, blankets, mats and other material.
Over 10,000 people on the street died in the past decade during winters. The organization has worked relentlessly to bring down this number, by raising funds through its crowdfunding platform. Goonj has also reached out to far-flung villages of the country by providing the needy with urban underutilized materials.
Best CSR Campaign – Godrej-Track the Bite
The app, Godrej-Track the Bite, was launched in 2015. Godrej-Hit came up with this initiative for people to register themselves as donors and in doing so, they launched an online community of platelet donors for dengue patients. The mobile app delivers real-time information on dengue and malaria based on the user’s location in vulnerable places. A timely and personalized message provided on the app leads to higher engagement and persuades people to take effective action against dengue and malaria. The first-of-its-kind innovative application has been able to build awareness as it disseminates information available and sharable in one click.
Best Social Celebrity – Rahul Bose
The Bollywood actor and rugby player’s contribution to society is well-known. He started his own non-profit organization called ‘The Foundation.’ It is an NGO dedicated to the removal of discrimination from all walks of life. In 2008 he was one of twelve international thinkers, politicians, economists and social activists to inaugurate the ‘In My Name’ initiative against global poverty. Bose is strenuously urging the country to ‘go green’. Bose was Oxfam’s first Global Ambassador from the Eastern Hemisphere and launched their India initiative on climate change in March 2009. Post the 2004 Tsunami, he was a part of the solidarity network. He made 23 trips in over 30 months and provided relief and was involved in rehabilitation work.
For his unrelenting efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, he was awarded the Godfrey Phillips Prize for Bravery in Social Service. Working with NGOs on the mainland, he has also helped provide materials, vehicles, mobile phones in islands Deep South in Nicobar.
Social Media Influencer – Bilal Zaidi
After more than a decade of Journalism, Bilal now works in the intersection between journalism and campaigning for social change and impact. His start-up CrowdNewsing.com is a campaign community that helps journalists, political activists and change-makers build an online community that supports them financially and amplifies their campaign. Prior to CrowdNewsing, Bilal was based out of New York working as a Global Campaigner with Avaaz Foundation, where he was focussed on community mobilization on campaigns like climate change, the war in Syria and the Rohingya crisis. In New York, Bilal also volunteered with the Bernie Sanders election campaign, observing closely the role of crowdfunding in politics. His organization’s main aim is to make political funding transparent and leaders more accountable to the people.
Ketto wishes to continue their Ketto Awards initiative in the coming years with the aim to honor and pay tribute to the impact creators who are driving sustainable change.
Ketto, Asia’s largest crowdfunding platform, stoked a change in India’s online fundraising ecosystem. Ketto’s intervention in fuelling a wide variety of sustainable causes, right from fundraising for start-ups to fundraising for medical purposes, the platform has been able to weave a story of disruption. The outstanding reviews of the platform across various media outlets speak the volume of the success of its campaigns. The idea of Ketto was brainstormed at a TED conference, which grew on to become a revolution. Varun Sheth founded Ketto on August 15, 2012, and the platform has since become a carrier of change for many. He was joined by Bollywood actor and humanitarian Kunal Kapoor and Zaheer Adenwala, whose powerful blend of techno-disruptor vision gives Ketto an edge over other crowdfunding platforms.
At its core, crowdfunding refers to the process of gathering funds or money, from a large group of people. With the presence of the internet and social media today, we are a part of a much larger community which has enabled us to arrange funds from people across the World Wide Web.
The organisation has also been at the forefront when it comes to fundraising for an innovative cause. The Ketto community has been recently in the news for several of its noble ventures that has been able to impact millions of lives.
When S V V Ramesh got to know that his month-old daughter needed a liver transplant, he was crestfallen. The 36-year-old marketing professional didn’t have enough means for the life-saving surgery. Doctors at Apollo Hospital, where his daughter Sehita was admitted, then sought help of Ketto to arrange the money. Within 24 hours, the company claimed, they managed to raise over Rs 12.9 lakh for the surgery.
The tenth edition of the Times Women’s Drive culminated in an award show at Holiday Inn, Goa on Sunday, May 5. Not only was the Times Women’s Drive supported by the Women’s Cancer Initiative at Tata Memorial Hospital, conducted by IARC, it also had ketto.org as a crowdfunding partner. This tie-up allowed each participant to raise money for charity individually. Mallika Rai, one such participant, received the Woman of Impact Award for raising the highest amount-Rs 5.9 lakh. With her contribution to the effort, the drive was able to donate a total Rs 8.3 lakh with ketto.org.
In one of the features by entrepreneur.com, Bollywood Actor and Ketto’s Co-founder Kunal Kapoor talks about his motivation to start Ketto and his advice to other celebrities investing on start-ups.
Ketto made a big breakthrough in the Indian start-up ecosystem when Amazon India joined hands with the organisation to help its sellers raise funding for business expansion, product development and even for medical assistance.
As a part of the programme named Amazon Wings to empower the sellers in India, the company will allow its sellers to use Ketto’s platform and raise small ticket funds beginning from INR 50K at a subsidized fee for initiating fundraisers.
Under this initiative, Amazon will solicit interest from sellers to apply to Ketto for participation in the program. The applications will then be shortlisted by Ketto on the basis of the seller story, the purpose of the fundraiser and the goal amount. Once shortlisted, a team of experts from Ketto will guide the sellers from the ideation stage to the final launch of the campaign. Following the launch, the shortlisted sellers will be able to promote it in their social circle.
The Ketto community has been able to bridge together individuals, corporations and even non-governmental organisations to create sustainable changes via crowdfunding. With hundreds of rave reviews pouring in over the years, Ketto has helped more than 80,000 people start campaigns and raised over Rs. 300 crores of funds for their causes. So whenever there is need of money you can log on to www.ketto.org create a campaign and go get funded. Ketto Reviews