In India, 8 out of 10 children who are malnourished are less likely to survive cancer. An alarming statistic, given that, Childhood Cancer is curable 9 out of 10 times the world over.
We are Cuddles Foundation, a national award-winning non-profit based in Mumbai backed by a strong team of clinical nutritionists across India. We have collaborated with 27 government and charity cancer hospitals in 19 cities across India, to help children fight cancer with food and nutrition.
Children seeking treatment for cancer are often malnourished and also suffer from treatment-induced malnutrition – stemming from side-effects to chemotherapy. This makes it difficult for children to cope and they deteriorate even further, often scaring parents into abandoning treatment midway. A well-nourished child, on the other hand, is more likely to complete treatment and fight cancer. Our FoodHeals program consists of placing a trained pediatric-oncologist nutritionist in a government hospital. She assesses children’s nutritional status and provides them with a customized diet plan. The counsel is followed by an aid program that includes nutritional supplements, eggs, fruits, dry fruits, monthly ration baskets to a family of four, and hot meals for in-patients and out-patients.Nutritionists work closely with senior oncologists so that food and medicine go hand in hand. They also support caregivers with the tools and means to incorporate locally available ingredients in their food.
Some of the hospitals we work with include TATA Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, AIIMS New Delhi and Kidwai in Bengaluru. We conducted over 1.5 lakh counsels last year alone. An impact study at India’s largest cancer hospital, Tata Memorial Centre, found that treatment dropout rates among children with cancer reduced by 86% after planned nutrition became a part of cancer treatment. This year, we will be planning on reaching out to more children in hospitals in the South and the North-east of India. We have also collaborated with the National Cancer Grid to take our counsel online.
(PARENT OF ISHIKA (G1) & PRITHVIRAJ MEHTA (G3)