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B(r)east Friend

~ Juili Dharmadhikari and Deepa Soman

Mobile Breast Cancer Screening

The Pink Ribbon

“We are all friends. The whole world is a friend, only we haven’t been introduced.”

laleh busheri

Laleh Busheri leads Prashanti Cancer Care Mission (PCCM), Pune is a non-profit that works in the cause of breast cancer detection and treatment. At PCCM she and her Onco-surgeon husband, Dr. C. B Koppiker, provide needy patients free of cost treatment. Generous donors have helped PCCM put up world-class technology and amenities for diagnosis, biopsy, mammography, sonography, surgery, radiation; all treatments for cancer, including on-site after care services. Most importantly, they have created a community of thrivers that is paying it forward. %%primary_category%%

Laleh Busheri envelopes the other in her warmth. To her the concept of “stranger” does not exist. Laleh’s mother is first cousin of the Aga Khan, making her a princess. A lawyer by training, Laleh was disillusioned and uninspired by her work in the domain of her education. She found her passion in helping her onco-surgeon husband find means to support poor patients.

Prashanti Cancer Care Mission (PCCM)

Prashanti Cancer Care mission (PCCM) was started in 1996, in Pune, by Laleh Busheri and her husband Dr C.B. Koppiker, an internationally recognized onco – surgeon. With more than 1.65 lakh breast cancer patients in India, it is the most commonly occurring cancer in the country. Not wanting to turn away poor patients, Dr Koppiker sought to guide and help women affected by the disease. He and his wife Laleh Busheri and team work to help women face the physical and mental trauma pre, post and actual treatment of breast cancer with compassion and sensitivity.

What Women Want

Women are victims of patriarchy in our country, lacking agency, access to information and quality care. Breasts being a fundamental part of women’s feminineness, it take a toll on their well-being when told that one of the breasts needs to be removed. In such situations, women need a place where their thoughts, emotions and physical state are understood and their pain is alleviated. 

Prashanti Cancer Care Mission (PCCM) addresses these issues. Laleh Busheri and PCCM are a pioneer in creating the pink ribbon movement. The need to understand the patient’s psychology, bodily changes and needs is an attempt to provide all that a women needs when she are detected with Breast Cancer. 

Silver Lining

#losingisnotanoption

PCCM focuses on the “Quality of Life” of the patient and has positively impacted over 1 lakh + women and their families. PCCM provides needy patients free of cost treatment ranging right from diagnosis, biopsy, mammography, sonography, surgery, radiation, etc. i.e., anything including treatments for cancer. They have world-class technology and amenities for their patients.

Breast cancer is the best cancer. It is 100% treatable. There is no need for breast mutilation till stage 4″.

Laleh Busheri

Retention, Restoration, Reconstruction

Breasts are an important part of a woman’s body and when removed, it drastically affects the patient. If the situation demands the breast to be removed, they are reconstructed The breasts are retained, restored and reconstructed to give the women her quality of life. The patients as well as their families are taught about the importance of health, well being, empathy and are guided throughout their lives. Once women start self appreciating their bodies and have their body image restored, much of the war is won.

Aid is provided to women who have been victims of unnecessary and incorrect surgery and breast removal due to lack of information and inaccurate diagnosis. Their breasts are reconstructed and are given a chance to live life. They address the myth, If the breast is removed, the cancer is gone.” 

Laleh addresses her patients with positivity and empathy. She says, “I want people to feel like coming back to the clinic for treatment.” At PCCM the attempt is to create a warm, positive environment. Patients are cared for with empathy, kindness and love. Within the four hours of treatment that women undergo at the clinic, they are entertained and relaxed. They have access to TV, movies, counsellor, and nutritionists as part of their daycare unit. 

Education and Equitable Access

PCCM focuses on preventive health. Nurses and doctors visit communities and settlements for breast cancer detection drives. They have 45-minute sessions in Marathi and Hindi educating not just women but men and children in the need for early diagnosis and self-examination for breast cancer. Laleh feels every woman should know which types of treatments exist and have the voice to demand them. 

At PCCM patients receive equitable medical treatment and service. Everyone comes in for the same issue, breast cancer, and deserves the same quality of care. She has been able to go beyond class structures to provide the same treatment for all socio-economic classes.

Finding Purpose and Meaning

Laleh has created a community support group of recovered patients. She connects women (patients) to other women who have completed their treatment. The survivors and families help take care of the patient’s children. They help with preparing food and also offer assistance as needed.

A patient realises what change she can bring in another patient’s life

Laleh Busheri

Laleh also has a system where she connects the donors with their donee. It is life-changing for both parties. The donors learn about who is it that got treated by their donation, while for the donee, they discover who it is that helped them. Laleh arranges activities for patients viz., tea parties, yoga sessions and even grooming and indulgence like manicures and pedicures so they understand self-love. These activities are helpful to create a ‘sisterhood’ and help build connections.

She says that when a woman without means gets treated, she is extremely happy and so is the donor when she/he in-person meets and checks up on their donee. 

Creating an Eco-system

PCCM organises marathons for raising awareness regarding self deduction of breast cancer and its treatment. They have awareness camps at various places in Pune for the same. She thrives for people to acknowledge breast cancer and start their treatment as early as possible.

To date PCCM trained over 500 surgeons from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives for breast reconstruction. Bangladesh has adopted PCCM’s motto and functioning. She wants more surgeons to learn how to correctly reconstruct the breasts.

Laleh takes pride in her life purpose that she has been associated with for over two decades. Dr. Koppiker is extremely passionate about his patients and relentlessly pushes Laleh to be better.

She says that when a patient has come to her clinic, never has the patient went home empty-handed. If not all, some kind of help is definitely provided. 

Laleh organises picnics, programmes for all patients and family members for spreading positivity. She wants to create awareness on the #losingisnotanoption idea and seeks maximum reach through media, communities and corporates. She wants surgeons and volunteers to connect with PCCM in helping women/ cancer patients. She wants people to donate with cash or kind including their time.  

Focused God’s Pauper

Laleh calls herself a beggar who goes around asking for help, raising funds. They have a strong support in corporates like Bajaj Auto.

Laleh believes that to make anything work, you need to have a timeline and be able to work backwards. She and Dr. Koppiker’s passion is to bust myths and work to provide better quality of life to women with breast cancer.

Laleh Busheri in conversation with to Deepa Soman

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