Rahul Yadav’s cancer suddenly changed his perfect life, but he kept fighting it and also started an organization that provides crucial support to cancer patients. Know more about Yoddhas and how they are bringing a positive change.
Rahul Yadav was living a perfect life. He was 28, had a well paying job in Bangalore after completing his MBA from a prestigious college and had just got married. He was at the beginning of a beautiful new life. But one casual visit to the doctor changed Yadav’s life forever.
Doctors told him he had Multiple Myeloma, a rare kind of blood cancer. “I heard those words for the first time in my life. I didn’t even know what that means. I went to the hospital because I had a slight fever; they asked me to get Dengue test done. But when the report came out, I got to know that I had cancer,” he remembers.
Since then his life was never the same. Visit to the new office got converted into hospital visits and bed rest. “It was all so sudden; I didn’t even get a chance to realize what was happening. Suddenly I was on a wheelchair. It was like I was being led by others, they would tell me that now I have to take this treatment, now do this surgery, etc. and I would just do that,” he says.
Rahul had to quit his job and he shifted back to Delhi, his hometown, along with his wife. Since then, he has undergone 15 chemo therapies and several surgeries and has faced numerous reactions to the treatment.
“I was a healthy person. I didn’t smoke, I drank only occasionally and the kind of cancer I had was very rare for a person of my age. I was so depressed,” he says.
But Yadav wasn’t one who would let this disease get the better of him. He was a fighter and still is. He realized that it was so hard for him to deal with this because he didn’t have anyone to share the issues with. “Of course, family is there, but they don’t know exactly what you are going through,” he says.
He thought of starting a patient-to-patient support group where all cancer patients come together and discuss about the issues they face and solutions to them.
“Although there are many NGOs who are working in this field, their work is mostly on the ground like organizing marathons, events, etc. I found that there was no such group in India where patients could talk to each other openly,” he says.
So he started a group called Yoddhas, which means fighters. This online group acts as a platform for cancer patients and survivors to talk about their condition, to share their experiences and what worked or did not work for them.
“Because we all are going through the same phase, we understand each other’s condition better,” he says. The group has 4,000 people engaged so far through their website, Whatsapp and Facebook page, and gives psychological support to the patients.
“Also, in case a person cannot afford a costly treatment, someone in the group might suggest to him an alternative solution for it because people from different places are part of this group,” he says.
From helping people sail through their most difficult initial phase of therapies and treatment to sharing the success stories, the group has been a constant support for cancer patients.
“I want to bring out real life heroes through these groups. When we talk about cancer we see how celebrities like Yuvraj Singh and Lisa Ray have come out of it successfully. They are undoubtedly an inspiration but I cannot relate to them. We need people like us who have succeeded to restore our faith that we can be fine too,” he says.
Gauri had Lymphoma but she never talked about it. She completed her treatment and came out of it. After that, she finished her higher studies and is now working in a good company and is healthy. When she heard about Yadav’s initiative, for the first time she came forward to talk about her disease and how she defeated it, which gave confidence to other patients as well.
Apart from providing support to cancer patients, Yoddhas is also focusing on engaging the youth in their activities. They organize various events, nukkad nataks (street plays) and activities to spread awareness. For this, Yadav has partnered with students of various colleges across the country.
“I want to make fighting cancer cool,” says Yadav.
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Yadav also talks about the Bone Marrow transplant he underwent and he recalls that the umbilical cord of a pregnant woman is required in the process. Because the donors should be young, he wants to spread awareness among the youth so that they can come forward and extend help.
Yodhhas want to engage 10,000 people in the next six months and one lakh in the next one year. “We also want to work on the bone marrow registry and spread more awareness about it,” says Yadav.
“I have been locked up in my house for one and half years now. If by just sitting in one room I can run an NGO, organize a marathon and do so much then there is nothing you cannot do. Limitations are just in the mind,” he says.
Yoddha also won an award at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2014 due do its excellent working model and impact on cancer patients.
For those who want to come and support the Yoddhas, you can join their facebook page, talk about cancer, be part of their events or just spread the word.