A different kind of philanthropy
Oxford dictionary describes ‘philanthropy’ as – “the practice of helping the poor and those in need, especially by giving money”.
Money. Ah yes. Money.
Money is the new health choice. It’s the new relationship. It’s the new influence. It’s the new clout.
Money talks. Money is a language in itself.
The more the currency, the better the status, and so derived, better the life.
Ah, if only.
Sonali Bendre. Yuvraj Singh. Irrfan Khan. Rishi Kapoor. Manish Koirala. Lisa Ray.
I can go on. One elaborate search on Google and I can pour out thousands of examples. Why then, you ask me, these names above?
Cancer is a common denominator for all these guys.
We know our limitations in our country when it comes to cancer treatments. We understand our misgivings, our resources and finite bounded logistics and red tape for chemotherapy and the newly updated immunotherapy agents. We don’t have a FDA and it takes ages before an FDA approved drug reaches our climate and can do its job on our people.
And despite it all, we are good. We are fine. We tackle these issues bracing ourselves and our patients in strong unity, in belief of our science and our existing supplies. With our population, it’s not easy, and every day statistics could show thousand odd latest detected cases of cancer climbing up the national ladder of incidence.
But the thing is, the common man can’t afford the lifestyle of these celebrities. He can’t jet off to the US, UK with just a thought, gain the required treatment and achieve the remission in record time. He can’t have a second opinion with pioneers. He can’t stay abroad for the duration of the treatment. And surely, his expenses wouldn’t let him garner that kind of money for the required treatment.
For the common man, we abide by our amenities and do just fine. With our hands tied, with the available options, we find them the appropriate treatment, schedule them into trials and do our damn best. If these options work on our population with a good remission rate, why then do these famous individuals seek treatment elsewhere?
Is it just the sleek possibility of a new drug, the halo of a foreign pedigree care giver, or just because its fancier and has a better outcome (the statistics are completely skewed; our population is larger, our data is not collected well), or just because their predecessors advice it, and because they can?
Alright. Understood, I get it. Its health! And money is health. If one can afford a better care, surely it is better to see that through.
Surely, these influential folks acquired their brilliant artistic endeavours and prominent lives coz the public hogged it, coz the public chose to honor their contributions to the entertainment industry, and the public consumed their glamorous lives with worship and adoration. The public, the common man; are just semantics. These eminent personalities owe their career to the public for modelling them, for joining them on their journey and showering them with so much adulation and devotion.
The stories of these celebs battling cancer in all its ugly forms is shared on social media, spreading like wild fire, and is published across news outlets and television flat screens, as though their suffering is of such magnitude that even the common man must know of it and know their pain, their strength and their hardships. And when their struggle is relinquished into success, the common man reads of it and rejoices as though he is the one in remission.
What then of the millions of success stories of the common man? Who glorifies his battles? Who writes about his remission? Who caters to his success? Who believes he is given a second chance at life? Who understands the magnitude of what the treatment cost on his life, or his family and the burdens of collateral, loans and currency he would have to pay off?
You know what? Fine, have the expensive visits abroad, meet the best doctors in town, get the elite possible treatments, write about your encounters, efforts and battles with cancer, ennoble and acclaim the success of the treatment. Write on, live on, give interviews and throw around the cheer, happily, recklessly and satisfactorily.
And when you come back to your own country, and you finally understand what a common man undergoes in a cancer treatment, with the morbidity and the imminent risk of relapse, sickness, the complications, what do you do? Uh? Where is your philanthropy? Where is your nobility? How do you give back to this society that built you?
Do you invest your income, your savings into helping other millions like you? Millions of the public who have now stared cancer in its Medusa head, who need the kind of treatment you could afford.
Do you help build better hospitals with that money?
Do you aid by constructing hospitals with more beds, staff and round the clock ICU care?
Do you invest into acquiring the best CT, MRI, PET scanners into every tertiary care in the country, when you know their cost and maintenance runs in crores?
Do you help the PHC’s, CHC’c or even the government facilities get basic grade ultrasounds and scanners, radiographing equipment to manage essential routine scans?
Do you use that currency and your valuable time setting up cancer wards and cancer research forums?
Forget investing your precious money into gaining the same treatment into our country, but do you at least help alleviate the suffering by investing in pharma companies that can provide good quality drugs at subsidised rates?
Do you invest in medical colleges, so that someday, some of your own countrymen might be pioneer for others like you?
Do you even bother to think and spend that beautiful, vital money into channelling a prospective future for healthcare and cancer in our country?
No, you don’t.
You use the platform you have, the stellar outreach you have to voice your opinions, your efforts, your life and the impact of everything you onto the public, selfishly, not even once bothering about the millions who are in a similar boat.
You talk about you, and donate your riches into what you think will give you more fame and power. And run the course, spin the wheel and harness the charm and prestige that comes with your story.
What kind of philanthropy is this? What kind of charity is this parsimonious approach?
Where is the good for the poor? Where is the benefit for the common man? Where is the assistance to the people who favoured you, saw your art, loved your art and paid homage to you?
Where is your nobility? How do you give back to this society that built you?
Images – Google images