Runu Chowdhury, a lady who is brave not just as an army’s wife but is also a feisty soul, who has not allowed the deadly disease to define the boundaries in her life. She had a good life, travelling from one place to another was on her cards as her husband was an army man. She used to teach children, on her sojourn from one place to another. With three children, two daughters and a son life were a handful for her, until 2012.
Yes, it was the year of doomsday predictions. Well, the world did not come to an end. However, Mrs Chowdhury’s life came to a standstill. She was detected with cancer of the ovaries, a part of which had also spread outside into the other parts of her body. That was the testing time of her life. She was running for treatment to Mumbai and Delhi, with her base in Kolkata just to get her slice of life more and better.
She says, “Everyone put on a brave face, on learning about the disease that I was suffering from. My friends and family used to hide their tears from me. The only pain that I had was not the one I was having in my body, but also the pain that my family was going through bothered me more.”
Earlier, Runu Chowdhury was literally scared of visiting hospitals. She could not face the agony and the fear in the eyes of cancer patients, lying panic-stricken on the hospital bed. However, after her detection, she understood the pain of suffering from one of the dreaded diseases on Earth.
Mrs Runu Chowdhury recollects, “I was not aware of my condition. After seeing my symptoms, one of my known Doctor friends advised me to get tested. I was under the supervision of the best doctors in the city in the Oncology department, one of them being Colonel G.S. Choudhury. I was getting treated at the Command Hospital in Alipore. I had become wheelchair-bound, had lost weight and looked like a skeleton. After undergoing continuous checkups and chemotherapy sessions, I was robbed of my earlier happy demeanour.”
While her immunotherapy was on, she sat on her hospital bed, weaving stories around crochet. She had a penchant for the arts and crafts. While travelling with her husband, she had contributed to society by working as an Art & Craft teacher. She decided to work on her forte, from the hospital itself.
While being under treatment herself, Runu Chowdhury started working for other cancer survivors. She started building up a network of like-minded people and amassed donations. She has been contributing to Thakupukur Cancer Hospitals and St. Jude’s Home amongst others.
Runu Choudhury has started a facebook community titled ‘Sahas’, meaning courage, which is dedicated to cancer patients and awareness. She is on a mission to fight the dreaded disease and lessen the fear attached to it. According to her, it is curable as we have advanced quite a lot in the medical field, both technically and research-wise. She wants to give birth to Cancer Crusaders, i.e. people who have fought the disease and want to give back to society.
“I have been organizing art, needle crafts and handicraft exhibitions in various places, amongst them Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan has been a prime contributor for giving space for the event. I have been donating profits and a part of the capital towards donations. In fact, we are organizing birthday parties of near and dear ones at Cancer Centers, Blood donation camps and awareness programs at various places to highlight the symptoms and create awareness. We are trying to facilitate free examinations so that the disease can be diagnosed at an early stage.” says the warrior.
She is making people aware of the factors from which the disease arises, conducting awareness programs to stop using plastics, and other contaminants in our daily lives. In fact, she herself uses organic compost for her plants to encourage others. She has even donated paper cups to tea stalls, where she has seen the misuse of plastic cups. She does not encourage reuse of soft drink bottles as it is also one of the major causes of the disease.
She says, “I am not grieving, and I am not repentant of the disease. I have the means to and also have been assisted by the government for the entire treatment period. However, all are not so lucky both financially and circumstance-wise. My life is a gift from God, and I will serve the cause in every way possible.”
Runu Choudhury is also the recipient of “Ganesh Prerona Award, for her fight with Cancer for the entire society.”
Message to All: Everyone who wants to fight the disease is welcome to join me at Sahas. Do not panic, on learning about a friend or family member who is suffering from the disease. Try to extend emotional help that is what matters most. Prayers can do miracles, so pray for them.
“Cancer is curable”
“Be a Cancer fighter”
“Pray & Heal”