Pap smear project
Ease early detection of second common cancer seen in Indian women
|Pap-Paap Nahin ..varda hai -Pap Smear Project – Suppported By AID, Chicago chapter
|Mode of Execution:
Month wise camp details
|Coordinator ‘s summary
The trust & I are thankful to AID Chicago Chapter for the support granted to this project. We are happy that it took enthusiastically and competed 3 months in advance & also recruited 40 additional women. These camps were a regular feature twice a week at the centre and the centre was abuzz with activity. The efficient conduct of the camps got in more volunteers and even donors. Women too came up screening more readily than expected and word of mouth helped in recruiting larger number of number over lesser number of days. All those involved in the project felt happy & satisfied and it is very clear from the experiences related by them. It is hoped that it would continue for the envisaged 3 years with the support of AID.
From this project we realized that we need a regular office colposcope, the portable one which we had was not of much use. 73 women screened in project where referred elsewhere for colopscopy. The regular coploscope will enhance the quality of work we do and improve screening.
The enthusiasm that all the involved had, I am sure will keep us going and enable us reach our aims. Together let us conquer cancer.
Experiences of the people involved
Recruiting women for Screening, the coordinator account:
Around the same time, we were approached by Life Trust, a NGO that works for the Aanganwadi teachers, to conduct cancer awareness programs. This would entail us to visit Anganwadis all over the city & every week, sometimes even twice a week we would go to suburbs like Sewri, Wadala, Kurla, Santacruz etc. After our talk when we told them about the Pap smear test at our centre, they used to ask us to write the address and the contact no. of the trust on the blackboard. Many of them religiously copied it in their notebooks. We thought this was merely to impress us, but to our surprise it was more than that! In a few days’ time Aanganwadi teachers would turn up in hordes to our centre by 1 .00 pm on the specified days. Soon it became a regular affair and their coordinator would send 20 -25 women every week or fortnight!
The Labour Union office near our centre also did their bit. The union office which also houses sewing units & handicrafts centre draws a lot of women from the area. They were receptive to our health workers and 30 odd women from there turned up for screening
Bachat ghat is like a cooperative chit fund where women put in a small savings of about 100 or 200 rupees every month. Their monthly meet gathers about 25 to 50 women. Such groups are there all over in Vikhroli. Our health workers would try and find out the meeting dates &visit them on these dates. They give a small talk about breast self-exam and the need for Pap smear test for about 10-15 minutes and at the end they would inform about the screening facility at our centre. Women from here also turned up at the centre. What was gratifying was that some of them even got their sisters and friends who lived far away for the checkup. Many also came and thanked us personally after collecting the reports and assured us that they would come next year too.
A major activity of the trust in the months of June to September is the Cancer Free Tomorrow program in the schools which has always been well received. In some schools after the talk to the students, talks were also given to lady teachers on Breast & Cervical cancers. Here too we spoke to them about the Pap smear test at the centre. Teachers too who were hitherto unaware of what a pap smear test was wanted to come and get it done. From 3 schools the teachers came in groups of 25 and more and got themselves checked.
January is a festival month and many Maharashtrian ladies call on each other and have haldi kumkum & exchange small gifts. Wherever we used to see group of women going well dressed in traditional attire, the health workers tried to approach them and talk about the test. Most of them would be in a hurry to get back home, but a few used to come to the centre & also enrolled for screening.
A social worker at Kalina in Santacruz had invited us many a times for cancer awareness talks at places where she was associated. When she came to know about this project, she asked us if she could send women from the less privileged class for this test. She used to conduct health awareness camps in these slum areas and she sent every week at least 5- 6 women
Dr. Geethanjali Amin,Gynaecologist
Dr. Reena Upadhyay, Gynaecologist.
Vanita Palande, Health worker of VMT:
I initially ventured into the areas I knew, as I reside close to the centre. My neighbours and friends were the first group that I got to the centre. When they came and listened to the presentation given by our Volunteer they were very impressed. They told me that we never knew so much and the information was in a language we could understand. And the doctor too was nice. What made them happier was that it was totally free. They then sent three women the next week, like this my contacts increased, I would at least find one woman known to me waiting on Wednesday when I came to the centre This motivated me and I felt confident to get more women .
But it was not like this every week. Sometimes, my friend whom I thought would surely come for the checkup would tell me a BIG NO. I would get depressed, but that would not deter me. The rains also made the women stay indoors. But what kept me going was every week I would at least find one new woman who would listen and show interest to what I have to say.
Whilst walking in Kannamwar Nagar 1, I met a friend of mine who took me to a big slum area which I had never seen till now. It was called Pragati Zopadpatti. Many households were there who were very poor. I first went and met a few women there; they blatantly refused and asked me not to come. I did not give up, I went to few more houses and I met one Mrs. Shinde who gave a patient ear to what I said and came personally with her sister the next week. She then sent six women the next week, by then the women from other localities too started coming in and we started having two opds every week. Fridays too the Doctor would come and women started coming in 10s and 20s. The two days of the week would get so hectic; the line of slippers outside the centre, the volunteers’ busy filling in the forms and the staff entertaining the women with tea and biscuits. Sometimes the women were more than 35- 40 & two doctors used to come.
I visited the nearby colleges where there were about 600 Professors in each college. I would have met them 3-4 times, I had also taken one of our Volunteers to give a detailed talk to them, despite that not one lady came for the checkup. I was truly disappointed. That is when I realized the illiterate women were easier to be spoken to, far more convincible and many came for the checkup too.
Some days when I used to have time, I too used to go to the nearby areas in Vikhroli and talk to a few women about the necessity of this test and the benefits of this. The other days of the week I take care of the help desk at the Tata Memorial Hospital. When I used to give talk on personal hygiene to the attendants and the patient, sometimes the women just sit there on the chair waiting for so many hours for their patient to complete the tests or chemotherapy. One day I asked the women if they would want to come and get the pap smear test done at our centre and also listen to our volunteers talk on cancer in women. I was surprised when many ladies agreed.
The coming week they all were waiting for me at the help desk and ten women came with me from Parel for the test. They were so attentive when the talk was going on and when they left they had tears as they said Thank you for thinking about us and getting this test done for us free. I was so happy when we completed the project and sincerely look forward for a similar project so that many more women can be benefitted.