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For Farhan Shaukat from Delhi, whose father, Shaukat Hayat, is battling with colon cancer, the lockdown brought on a wave of fear.
“We were worried that it would mean an end to the radiation treatment and hospital visits for my father. Things turned worse when our oncologist remained unavailable for most of the week. Though we are allowed to visit the hospital for the therapy, the entire process is time and energy-consuming due to hygiene protocols inside the hospital. Plus, coronavirus had made my father more susceptible to risks,” he tells The Better India (TBI).
Worried about the lowered immunity of his father and the spread of COVID-19, Farhan browsed for online guidance for cancer patients. He soon found Dimple Parmar and Kishan Shah’s comprehensive guiding tool called ZIOPAR (ZenOnco.io Integrative Oncology Preliminary Assessment Report).
The duo’s Mumbai-based firm- ZenOnco.io – provides a free customised report with information on diet plans, exercise, mental fitness and how to keep the surroundings clean based on cancer type, stage, symptoms, activity level and treatment taken.
Farhan soon availed the services of AI tool to get a directional treatment plan for his father. Soon enough, they saw results. A week into following the plan, Hayat has been eating healthier food that suits his body requirements and to the surprise of his family, the 67-year-old feels strong enough to dedicate a few minutes to exercise daily.
The co-founders of ZenOnco.io, both IIM Calcutta alumni, have made the Shaukat family a part of the Community Support group to connect with other cancer patients and survivors. This way the family does not have to face the crisis alone and help everyone stay optimistic.
Like Shaukat, close to 6,000 cancer patients across India have benefited from the amidst the nationwide lockdown.
“For many cancer patients, non-emergency procedures have been delayed or suspended. This has resulted in patients getting anxious and scared about their health and wellbeing. We were flooded with queries or concerns from caregivers at the start of the lockdown. So, we decided to launch the tool on 15 April. ZIOPAR provides temporary relief and medical as well as non-medical measures to follow for stable health,” Dimple, co-founder tells TBI.
How ZIOPAR Works & Benefits
The basic idea behind developing the AI-based tool is to educate and empower cancer patients and their families through awareness about treatment options available for cancer and asking the right questions to their oncologist. It is very common for cancer patients and caregivers to be lost and confused regarding the treatment procedures, lifestyle management and protocols to follow during and post-cancer treatment.
As a solution, Kishan and Dimple came up with ZIOPAR. It recommends cancer treatment plan options along with providing personalised nutrition, fitness and emotional & mental wellness exercises based on the phase of treatment.
To make the reports accurate, the software generates results based on guidelines/protocols that are recommended by international bodies such as National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Society of Clinical Oncology, The European Society for Medical Oncology, Society of Integrative Oncology and so on.
“Consultation with oncologists is mandatory. The report provides options for directional treatment plans, and educates users about the right questions to ask their doctors,” adds Kishan, a former investment banker.
All a user has to do is fill an online form giving details about the patient’s cancer type, stage, symptoms, performance score, prior treatments and side effects.
Based on this information, the software, developed by the duo, generates a comprehensive 20-page report in under six minutes.
Other Features of the Tool:
Community Support: Brings patients, survivors, doctors and caregivers on one online platform to talk or ask questions openly about cancer.
Diet Plans: The report designs a diet and nutritional supplement plan that makes the patient’s body stronger and more receptive to the treatment.
Fitness: From pilates, yoga, energy therapies, stretching to basic exercises, it curates a customised fitness and exercise regimen to make the patient’s body stronger to undergo cancer treatment.
Cancer-proof Home: From how to maintain clean air and water, what pesticides or kitchenware to avoid to personal care, a list of dos and don’ts is provided to maintain hygiene in the house of a member having cancer.
Mental Wellness: The medically supervised programme recommends psychological counselling and therapies as per needs of the cancer patient.
About the Organisation
ZenOnco.io was founded in 2019 to extend operations of Love Heals Cancer and make cancer treatment more accessible and convenient for all. Love Heals Cancer is an NGO founded in 2018 as a tribute to Nitesh Prajapati, Dimple’s husband and Kishan’s batchmate. Nitesh passed away due to colorectal cancer in March 2018. Read the full story here.
Dimple, who was Nitesh’s primary caregiver, decided to dedicate her life to help cancer patients, survivors and families. To that end, she underwent Healing Circles training from Commonweal, a healing centre in California, Center of Mind-Body Medicine in Washington DC and Healing Circles in Langley.
Meanwhile, Kishan, who was working for Sovereign Wealth Fund in Mumbai also left his job and started ZenOnco.io along with Dimple. He underwent training in mind-body-medicine, healing circles, mindful caregiving, and end of life conversation.
The duo developed a framework of wellness-related practices that aim to reduce the risk of cancer through integrative oncology treatment. This framework is applicable at all stages – before, during and after treatment. It can be availed online, at home or at the centre.
“The structure was designed after partnering with over 150 hospitals in India, and 1,000+ oncologists. We have also trained our onco-nutritionists, onco-psychologists and fitness experts to provide a holistic treatment plan,” says Kishan.
Since its inception, the organisation has made a difference in the lives of more than 16,000 people.
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, it is very crucial to have multiple support systems that can help overcome the heavy doses of chemotherapy, radiation and other medication. More often than not, the exhaustive treatments put enormous physical and emotional stress on the patients and their caregivers. A multi-pronged approach to build a patient’s strength then becomes a necessity.
If you want to get in touch with Dimple and Kishan, Click here.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)