Life can throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. So, what can you do in such a situation? Taking inspiration from Sanjukta Sharma, our indomitable guest of the panel, a journalist, and a cancer survivor, we would say—It’s not going to be easy. But we, as a community, can make it easy.
“Nothing prepares you for a cancer diagnosis. When cancer happens, the world suddenly changes.”
With over 21 years of experience, Sanjukta has consecutively achieved many triumphs in her career as a writer, journalist, and author. Nothing shattered her spirit one bit until she discovered her stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2017. “Cancer transforms your life and suddenly you are living a new normal,” she reveals about her journey. “It’s almost like shaking hands with your own skeleton. Too close to mortality,” she continued.
Health is not a priority for most Indian women — a revelation that has been lying in plain sight.
“Ignorance of women’s health issues is something that has been passed down through generations. We’re told to take a painkiller and move on with life,” Sanjukta tells us. “With the developing healthcare system and awareness, women can prioritize health in easy ways,” she emphasizes. She continues, “Being aware of common issues like fibroids and cysts and conducting annual check-ups can be the fundamental steps that women can take to ensure their well-being.”
Everything will be fine once I enter menopause — an ill-conceived mentality that needs to be changed.
Ignoring the symptoms or justifying them with groundless theories is no way to deal with any illness. On being asked what signs should women keep an eye on, Sanjukta enlightens us, “Some of the most common signs can be irregular periods, excessive bleeding, sudden weight gain or loss, hot flashes. Women often dismiss these by labelling them as hormonal changes or PMS.” It is crucial for women to listen to their bodies and to stay in tune with it.
“HR policies are always one size fits all!” – Sanjukta on HR involvement to help employees with cancer.
An intriguing question was raised by Smitha: “Do you think the ecosystem around you, especially your workplace, provided the security of your employment during your illness?” In response to that, Sanjukta shares her opinion, saying, “HR policies need to go beyond the general sick leave or leave of absence. They need to be individualized.”
“A conversation is necessary between HR and individuals going through life-altering illnesses.”
Suggesting a solution for employees that go through chronic or epidemic illnesses Sanjukta says, “HR policies should have a clause stating that employees must inform the organization in case of prolonged illnesses. That opens a window for conversation. Instead of losing the job, there can be discussions around modifications and adaptations of new roles.”
It’s time we put “human” back in “human resources” — appeals Sanjukta.
Wouldn’t workspaces be more productive if they gave their employees the security to be vulnerable? Sharing her personal experience Sanjukta talks about her coping mechanisms while going through cancer. She says, “Self-assurance narratives like ‘be strong and fight cancer’ were not very helpful for me. I regained my strength and self-belief when I reached out to people, to other cancer survivors.” Sharma continues, “While the rest of the world carries on, your life as a cancer patient has turned upside down. Sharing and reaching out can help you put your life back together.”
Are insurance policies efficient enough to deal with cancer?
In Sanjukta Sharma’s opinion, health insurance policies are one of the things that can make this journey easier. However, they are only helpful as long as you have a diagnostic test, surgery, or hospitalization. Borrowing instances from her personal journey, she says, “Cancer treatments are diverse and they are very expensive. A better health insurance policy could have been helpful.” Adding to that, she says, “Support groups are another element that could have helped.”
Support awareness and fundraising group for young people with cancer — Another milestone that Sharma aims to achieve.
Support groups help cancer patients adapt to their new life. “How do you go back to work? How do you feel beautiful? How can you help other cancer patients? How can you go back to dating? Support groups are meant to address these standard questions that often take a hit after cancer,” Sanjukta tells us.
In her parting words, Sharma says, “Try to address cancer as a disease and not a taboo or a death sentence.” Turns out it does not take a lot to make the world a better place for cancer survivors. Normalization and encouraging conversations can go a long way.
International Women’s Day Summit – Shakti
The celebration of Women’s Day 2021 at KelpHR was marked by a panel of influential individuals who came forward for a forthright discussion on the matter of global importance – women’s empowerment – a subject matter that is far from saturation. Gender discrimination, hostile workplace environment, disability rights and quantitative solutions and more were a part of one of these dialogues and panels at the IWD 2022 – Shakti by KelpHR.
At KelpHR we believe that having a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is the key to business transformation and growth and that we must be inclusive of all persons irrespective of any differences. To know more about KelpHR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion solutions do call us at +91-95001-29652, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.kelphr.com
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 8 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For any of our other services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at email@example.com, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.