Article :- Published in American Cancer Society University


With his ACSU training and funding, Samiran Das launched a program to increase awareness and provide breast and cervical cancer early detection services in a municipality of Kolkata (Calcutta), India. His program trained female health care workers to encourage women to seek detection screening for breast and cervical cancer and to provide exams in conjunction with the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. These efforts achieved remarkable result, with 75% of the women targeted seeking early detection and counseling services.
Article :- International Affairs Accomplishments 2005-06, ACS Journal

ACSU Scholar Samiran Das.

California Division Inspires ACSU Scholar At the September 2003 ACSU, hosted by the California Division, Samiran Das received a seed grant of $5,000 to increase awareness and provide early detection services for breast and cervical cancer in the South Dumdum municipality of Kolkata (Calcutta), India. A native of Kolkata, Das knew this impoverished area desperately needed affordable access to cancer screening programs. Working with a local foundation, das used his seed grant funds to train female health care workers to conduct early detection screening for breast and cervical cancer. The workers went door-to-door to educate families about the benefits of breast and cervical cancer early detection. Convincing the head of the household of the need for cancer screening (often the husband or father0 was a critical factor in achieving success. Of the 6,732 women identified as age appropriate candidates for early detection services, 75 percent agreed to go to the clinics to receive counseling and early detection services. When needed, follow-up services were provided by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, a leading cancer center in the area. More than 1,000 women received follow-up evaluation, tests, and services.

Samiran Das, ACSU Scholar

International Program Participants Receive First Annual International achievement Awards from American Cancer Society , Atlanta , USA - 2005.


Jack Shipkoski, Chief Executive Officer, South Atlantic Division: Dr. Marcela Navajas, BoliviaCancer Foundation: Dr.Mitra Molinari, Argentine Union Against Tobacco: and Mr. Samiran Das, Saktipada Das Memorial Foundation,India receive the first Annual International Achievement Awards given by the Society.

To celebrate the achievements of our cancer control partners in International programs, the American Cancer Society hosted the first International Affairs Awards ceremony in May 2005, honoring the outstanding work of the South Atlantic Division and three international cancer control advocates.

Dr. Marcelo navajas and Dr. Willy Mollenido of the Fundacion Boliviana Control el Cancer (Bolivia Cancer Foundation) were recognized for their work in breast and cervical cancer control in Bolivia. Though a partnership with the American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division, they exchanged cultural knowledge and best practices in cancer control between the regions. This program improved awareness of breast and cervical cancer prevention and early detection among health care professional, community organization, and the public. Because of the positive response from communities in Bolivia, the program will extend into a second year.

Dr.Mitra Molinari of the Argentine Union against Tobacco in Argentina was recognized for the impact she made in turning the tide against tobacco in Argentina. With a tobacco control seed grant from the Society, Molinari conducted legal and economic surveys and research to provide evidence about the human and economic toll caused by tobacco usage. The result of these efforts have been critical to convincing the Argentine government and other sectors of society to strengthen tobacco control through advertising restrictions, control through advertising restrictions, advocacy, and legislation.

Mr. Samiran Das of the Saktipada das memorial Foundation, India., is an American Cancer Society University 9ACSU) graduate from the 2003 ACSU session hosted by the California Division das leveraged his training and seed grant funds to reach an underserved population of women in Calcutta. He trained social workers to go door to door in an area with households identified ads having age appropriate candidates for breast and cervical cancer screening. Of the 6,732 women contacted, 75 percent agreed to go to clinic to receive counseling and early detection services. Twenty-six precancers and two cancers were detected and treated. Supervision and physician services for this lifesaving program were provided by a leading cancer center in the area.
' Harmony '- Celebrate Age ,
Published in January 2007.

“ Death is more universal than life. After working with people who have Been diagnosed with cancer, I want To stand by their side and add Life to their remaining day’s even if I cannot add days to their lives. ”

Economist Saktipada Das was 32 years old when he died of an undiagnosed disease. His younger brother Dr Santanu Das, 63, founded the Saktipada Das Memorial Foundation (SDMF) in Kolkata in 1999. Dr.Das is based in the US and funds were not an issue, but the project only took off when younger brother Samiran Das, 61, gave up his successful Event Management company to work as Chief Functionary of the Foundation. His focus: underprivileged women, who often die undiagnosed. Supported by the Regional Cancer Institute in Kolkata, SDMF works to generate awareness, thus enabling early detection. It also arranges referrals. Recently, SDMF has shifted its focus from the South Dumdum Municipality in Kolkata to Sundarbans in West Bengal, where it has launched and early detection programme with the help of International bodies like the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and the American Cancer Society. To date, SDMF has helped over 1.32 lakh people, something that makes Samiran Das, and his wife, Debjani Das,proud.

Somasree Roy
Sr. Manager, Administration & Public Relation
Sri Aurobindo Seva Kendra.,Kolkata

Like a bombshell out of the blue hit my regular life as ambiguities rolled down amongst my family friends and colleagues that I could be a case of Malignancy! Being attached to a Medicare centre my self , the last thing one could accept was a disease so serious going unnoticed.

However, it was all in the cards of destiny. Despite my complaints to a lady gynecologist of the discomfort in my left breast and menstrual disorders, my disease went undiagnosed for two and a half months and I was put into a medication of Vitamin E for three months.

I returned to the doctor with a fresh complaint, before completion of my vitamin supplement. The skin of my breast turned like an orange peel!

That was a clear indication of malignancy, which I was then totally unaware of. Eventually, after a series of investigation it was confirmed that I was a case of INFILTRATING BREAST CARCINOMA….it was 18th of October 2000.

I was immediately referred to the most upcoming oncologist Dr. Goutam Mukhopadhya. Depression, anxiety, despondency and unhappiness engulfed my near and dear ones. On 21st of October 2000 (my son’s birthday), a radical mastectomy was performed on me with exclusion of twelve lymph nodes. Malignancy had spread beyond the primary zone! I was advised to have 8 cycles of Chemotherapy and twenty sittings of Radiations which would commence from the fourth week of my surgery.

I was ready to combat the battle from the very beginning. I knew in my mind that I would not succumb to my illness. I did not lose my composure. God helped me to take my mind totally away from my body. I did not for once think of the gravity of the disease. All I thought was how soon I should be able to join work and go back to my normal self. I used to think of the most beautiful time and the exciting moments I had spent in my life and reminisce the past. This practice helped me overcome my depression. After my operation, I was in the hospital for two weeks. I rested at home for one more week. I gathered all my strength and tried to behave as normal as possible and resumed office. I read books which would enhance my moral courage, I chatted with my friends, family and colleagues about things very different to my disease. I watched movies and even at times went to social gatherings in the evenings .

The effect of my first chemotherapy was terrible. I vomited a number of times that evening. However, I gradually coped up with the adversities of the chemo-induced illness. I did not stop from my normal activities .I used to rest for three /four days at home after each chemotherapy, and joined office again. Needless, mentioning that I lost all my hair, my eye lashes and my eye brow. I started putting on weight, my nails darkened and lost their luster and, my face bloated to double it’s size. I had no choice but to accept my ugliness in a good spirit. I attuned my self with all possible artificial aids to make over my appearance. I accepted life the way it was approaching me. My doctor had been a constant support and so were the seniors and colleagues of the office. I must admit that without the support from my office I would not have been alive today! I convey my heartfelt gratitude and regards mostly to my seniors who took extra care and helped me in every respect to continue with my normal life.

To sum up, now in the first week of September 2001, I may say that I have completed my therapy and I have also completed my first checkup which was scheduled after one month of my last chemotherapy which was administered on 2nd July’01.

As per the current reports I do not have any active disease in my body.

I do not know what is in store for me in future, but at present other than the localized pain and occasional feeling of fatigue I am fine.

I also acknowledge with deep respect all the help & kindness rendered upon me by my friends, relatives and colleagues. May God be always kind to them.

In developing countries like that of India, it is just few who are fortunate enough to afford a treatment of such terminal disease.

However, it is better to go by the old saying which is Prevention is Better than Cure. But most importantly, the government and more non-governmental organizations like should come up in rescue of the common people by more means of cancer screening devices, make people more aware and careful about their health. A woman must realize that she also has a very important role to play in her family .People should be prompt to acquire medical help at the first opportunity for any abnormal physical complaint from any of the family member, and not show any sign of negligence if matters are related to health. Being careful does not indicate being hypochondriac. One must remember that early detection of cancer is curable.

Therefore, if one falls victim to such a disease, instead of breaking down thinking WHY ME? One must accept the reality and think, WHY NOT ME? One should try to pick up courage to combat the disease and not become a slave to the body. This will take 50% of the ailment away. One should try to divert the mind into other things in which one has interest in. The thought of the disease should not cripple the mind from functioning. One has to accept life the ways it comes and PRAY to the Almighty.

GOD WILL ANSWER to the prayer and do whatever is best. After all we are all mortal creatures. And no one is meant to live forever ………………….

Looking ahead
Benita Sen

Retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye, can cause blindness, even death, if left untreated. However, it is fairly easy to spot the condition’s telltale symptoms

You’ve heard of blood cancer, cancer of the lungs, mouth, colon, cervix and breast. But cancer of the eyes? If you ask people at random, most of them would be incredulous that cancer can strike the eyes. Retinoblastoma affects a large number of children between the ages of one and five.

Till a few decades ago, this rare cancer that attacks the retina was considered fatal. Of late, however, early detection and medical and technological advances have turned that tide. Today, nine of 10 child patients can be cured in ‘advanced’ countries. In Europe, for instance, the five-year survival rate in children suffering from retinoblastoma went up from 85% in the 1970s to 90% in the 1980s and stood at 91% in the 1990s even while the incidence of retinoblastoma for the same period fell from 3.6 per million in the 1970s to 3.1 per million in the 1990s (Source:The Cancer Atlas published by the American Cancer Society).

Ocular oncology is a relatively new field of ophthalmology, and that perhaps explains to some extent why in India ocular oncologists see more of advanced retinoblastoma. An alarming number of general practitioners and even general ophthalmologists are not too knowledgeable about it. Says Dr Santosh Honavar, ocular oncologist at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad: “Delayed diagnosis of retinoblastoma is a problem unique to the developing world, and a problem that historically has poor prognosis.”

If detected early, the spread of cancer can be arrested, salvaging the eye, optimizing residual vision and, in extreme cases, saving a life. About 95% of children with retinoblastoma can be saved and vision kept useful in about 85% if the tumour is detected before the cancer destroys vital parts of the eye or spreads to other parts of the body, says Honavar.

Sadly, we still lose children to cancer that begins in the eye. In India, adds Honavar, cancer is among the leading causes of death among children below 14. Retinoblastoma and other eye cancers account for about 20-30% of all cancers; of these, about 30% cases are in children. In every 10 cases of retinoblastoma in children in India, about seven are unilateral or in one eye. While the disease can affect both eyes, cases where one eye is affected are generally detected by the time the children are about two or three years old. Those with both eyes affected are diagnosed between one and two years and seldom after they turn five.

An attentive adult, whether a member of the family, a doctor or a teacher, can save a child’s life. Take, for instance, the case of New Delhi’s Krish, who completed a year this March. He was about two months old when his parents took him to a paediatrician for diarrhoea.

One look at his eyes which could not coordinate, and the doctor suspected trouble. A specialist diagnosed retinoblastoma in both eyes. Krish was completely blind, a fact that his parents had not suspected since they did not know the symptoms. Treated for over 10 months, Krish has got back 50% vision in one eye and 20% in the other. He awaits a cataract surgery in June, after which he should be able to see better.

One of the surest indicators of retinoblastoma is to look at a photograph taken with a flash. Many parents have missed the healthy red glint in the child’s eye and consulted the doctor reporting a white reflex, only to confirm retinoblastoma. While most children with retinoblastoma appear like any other, attentive parents should watch out for the cat’s eye or a pupil that looks white and reflects light in what is called the cat’s eye reflex. Some children have a squint or persistent redness that comes with the cornea being clouded over, while some may have problems with their vision, even though they do not complain of pain in most cases. It may be difficult for the parents to detect poor vision in one eye, so check if the child resents closure of one eye at random. “This simple test can be done at home while the child is at play or watching television,” suggests Honavar. Some mothers suspect something wrong when they observe the eye bulge or move unnaturally.

What goes wrong and where?
As with some other cancers, retinoblastoma can be caused by the faulty Rb gene, which makes children more prone to bilateral retinoblastoma (affecting both eyes). That is why children born into a family with a history of retinoblastoma ought to be screened regularly till they are five years old. About one out of three cases are genetic, but several DNA mutations develop later in life. The retinoblastomas that are not inherited generally affect one eye. There is no conclusive evidence about what causes retinoblastoma. Nor is there any proven way of preventing retinoblastoma except by prenatal genetic diagnosis, which is recommended when there is a family history of the disease. So, till further research provides any conclusive answers, technically speaking, any child can get retinoblastoma even though statistics say that about one in 15,000 to one in 18,000 live births are diagnosed with it.

Although ocular oncologists work towards a day when they can restore complete vision and save the lives of every child, sometimes the treatment has to be guided by the fact that it is most important to stop the spread of cancer, even if vision cannot be preserved.

If the eye is removed, new techniques ensure implantation of a life-like prosthetic eye identical to the other eye that can even move on volition.
Retinoblastoma, when completely cured, does not often recur later in life. Nor does the treatment leave any significant long-term side effects. Which means, in a couple of years from now, Krish will be packing his books for school?