City Pulse

Yoddhas: Coming together to fight against Cancer

April 29, 2016 By Team ICMYC
  • Rahul and his wife Rashi.

  • Rahul has undergone 15 chemo-therapies.

“I clearly remember the time, it was 4 pm on August 23,” says Rahul Yadav. It would be hard for Rahul to forget the date. That day, the otherwise healthy IT professional was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a rare kind of blood cancer. The knowledge of the disease pushed him into depression, but then the 30-year-old is made of sterner stuff. He not only managed to pull himself out of the dark but also started Yoddhas, one of the first online support group for people suffering from Cancer. Two bone marrow transplants, and 15 Chemotherapies later, Rahul continues his fight against the disease, setting up an example for others to follow. 
“I had a typical IT professional existence. I moved to Bengaluru from Delhi after marriage and joined HCL. I cycled almost five kilometres to work and also played Badminton in the evenings. I don’t smoke, was a social drinker, and tried to keep myself as fit as possible,” says Rahul. But all this changed in August of 2013.   
Why me? : 
“Suddenly I started having stomach aches. After suffering the pain for some days, I went to a local doctor who diagnosed the pain as an infection and gave me some medicines. In spite of the medicines, the pain refused to subside,” adds Rahul. Perturbed, he and his wife decided to opt for a second opinion. “We went to a hospital and were advised a blood test, the results of which revealed very low platelet count. The doctors said I have Dengue and was put on Dengue medications,” he adds.  
Again, the diagnosis didn’t work. “In spite of numerous tests, and dengue medications, my health didn’t improve. Finally, a doctor suggested Cancer Biopsy test. Though skeptical, I agreed,” he says. The results showed Rahul had Multiple Myeloma. 
“It felt like I was hit by a train,” says Rahul. “I was stunned, and didn’t know what to do. I had no knowledge about the disease. My only reference points were cigarette packs with cancer signs on them, or movies that showed people suffering from cancer eventually dying,” he adds. The fact that so many panic inducing articles were available on the net only compounded Rahul’s misery. 
From depression to fighting back: 
Initial four months after diagnosis were extremely hard for Rahul. Along with being depressed and emotionally worn out, the chemotherapies started taking a toll on him. “It drained me completely. I had severe body pain and persistent hair loss. The situation constantly forced me to ask ‘Why me?” 
But, he adds, “I realized there are two ways of looking at cancer. One is to understand that it is a chronic illness, and can be tackled at various stages with medicines and treatment. The second way is to give up at the first stage itself. I knew I didn’t want to do that,” says Rahul. 
Rahul channelized all the anger he felt towards his disease into creating an online support group for people who were in a similar situation. “Information about my disease was hard to come by. Also, people in our country tend to shy away from talking about illnesses and this leads to the creation of misinformation that is quickly swallowed by vulnerable patients,” he adds. 
To counter this problem, Rahul undertook intensive research and found that there existed many support groups abroad. “Through the internet I took part in these groups, actively sought out information, made friends with other patients, and exchanged experience and stories,” he says. 
This experience, Rahul realized, helped him immensely. “I wanted to create a similar support structure in India as well and started Yoddhas.”  
The online portal encourages people to come together and speak about their experiences and treatments. This not only enables dissemination of correct information but also alerts patients against wrong information. “When proper information is not available, patients tend to hold on to whatever is thrown their way. They are extremely vulnerable, and would believe anything that promises to alleviate their misery. Yoddhas makes sure misinformation is sieved out,” he adds. 
Rahul and his team make sure all information is vetted by them. “Some months back there was a rumour doing the rounds that a hospital in Chennai has managed to create a treatment that will cure cancer completely. We did our investigation and found out that this was a hoax. Similarly, a lot of people point out those homemade remedies can go a long way in curing cancer. We analyse these remedies, consult with doctors and only then publish them on FB page,” he says. 
“We have close to 8300 people on our Facebook page, and support more than 4,000 people. We have our users speak about their tryst with chemotherapies, and how some manage to successful fight Cancer. Stories like these give confidence and strength to others who are yet to win the battle,” he adds.  
“It is important for people to come out and speak about their experiences, and know that they are not alone,” says this Changemaker.
For more information about Yoddhas, log onto their Facebook page.