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And Manjula Rests in Peace

Staff of Karunashraya tend to a patient.Manjula had completed her education till Class X and had started working in the garment industry. At the age of 19, she got married and after 5 years, she gave birth to twins. Her world was small, humble, and happy. But within 10 months of delivering her babies, Manjula was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Her world came crashing.

Manjula was taken to Karunashraya — a facility run by the Bangalore Hospice Trust that offers palliative care for advanced-stage cancer patients. She was taken there initially for treatment, but it was too late. Manjula and her husband were informed of the disease and its impact on her lifespan. She was admitted and her treatment was started. A procedure called ‘tapping’ helped her to breathe easily. Nevertheless, she was still a bit weak after tapping.

It was around this time that she expressed her wish to spend time with her children – who were about 2 years old. Her children, who lived with their grandmother in Hubli, were brought back to Bangalore. But cancer and multiple treatments had taken a toll on Manjula’s appearance. Her skin had darkened and her children could not recognise her. Distraught, Manjula wondered whether life was worth living.

One day, when Manjula’s mother was bathing her children, she tried to commit suicide at home. She boiled some oil and threw it on herself. It burnt one half of her body, yet the doctors were able to save her life.

Manjula returned to Karunashraya after the incident and was assigned a different ward and counsellor. She had very few days left and she was well aware of it. Manjula decided she would stay at Karunashraya during her last days. The counsellor explained her decision to the family and they agreed to honour her decision.

Manjula found a friend in her counsellor. She used to bring flower buds for her. And Manjula used to spend hours watching those buds bloom. She learned to cherish the small joys of life. She requested for a different colour bud every day.

But soon, Manjula’s condition began to deteriorate. She started missing her children and her family and requested the authorities to permit her family members to stay with her during her last few days. Her husband was given permission and he started to stay with her. A couple of days later, her mother and children came to visit her as well.

During her last few days, she was calm, composed and happy. Like a younger sister, her counsellor was her constant companion. One day, Manjula asked her to make sure her children were okay after her. Then in about 5 days, Manjula passed away peacefully. Her husband was with her at this time. Her funeral rites were performed as per her wishes. The children are now going to preschool and they are taken care of by their father and grandmother.

The Bangalore Hospice Trust with support from employees of CISCO and OneStage’s GAYE programme, provides succour to several patients like Manjula, suffering from advanced-stage cancer. Through consistent counselling, these terminally ill patients are able to come to terms with disease depression, and death.

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