Prashanti Cancer Care Mission is a public, charitable trust established in 1996, in Pune, Maharashtra, India under the leadership of Dr. Chaitanyanand B. Koppikar, M.D., an internationally renowned Breast-Onco surgeon. The main objective of the organization is to provide accessible, affordable, and compassionate medical care using a holistic and integrated approach to every individual in need and also to undertake medical education, training and research in the field of cancer science. Their motto is “Losing is not an option” and they take all the actions possible to work towards this motto.
As a part of our CAS Project, we started a blog for PCCM. The main intention of the blog is to reach out to a wider audience to share information about topics like different methods of diagnosis, different types of surgeries, different types of treatments and their side effects, etc. We thought that this would be a good idea because Indian society lacks awareness about issues like Breast Cancer and thus it is extremely important to address these issues and remove the stigma surrounding them. You can find our blog on: https://pccc-breastcancerawareness.blogspot.com/
Anusha Mehendale, DP2:
I have been working at PCCM since June of 2017 as an intern/volunteer, and I am one of the founding members of the Youth Wing. At Prashanti, I have participated in activities like research projects on Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), completion of the Gene Bank, organization of fundraisers and seminars and social media marketing. I am interested in doing Genetics in the future and hence working at Prashanti was an academically enriching experience for me. To find out more about Prashanti or my work in Prashanti, please visit: https://anushamehendale.wixsite.com/website ; www.orchidsbreasthealth.com
As I was working on the Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/orchidsbreasthealth/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/orchidsbreasthealth/) page for PCCM, I realized that having a blog that would not only be informative but would also address questions from the patients and their family members regarding nutrition during treatment and mental health would be beneficial to the organization as well as the patients. So, I came up with the idea of starting the blog. My role in our team was to do the research and come up with a list of possible blog ideas and information for the blogs. It was definitely an interesting experience and we will continue doing this in the future. We have also received positive feedback from the Instagram followers for the PCCM account which is a mix of patients and doctors. Thus, our blogs are definitely helpful. The next step is to keep adding new blog posts, increase the number of views on the blog and then set up Google adsense for it so that PCCM would be able to get money from the views that the blog would receive.
Through this experience I was able to obtain various research skills and also leadership skills as I was the leader of the project. Collaboration was one of the major components of the project as we had to ensure that 5 of us worked as one unit. Another important thing that I got to learn was the ethics behind handling topics like cancer which affect a lot of people worldwide and have a tremendous impact on their emotional state. In this way, this project facilitated a lot of personal development and mental growth.
Trisha Bhide, DP 2:
This project heavily relied on our collaborative skills and effective communication with each other. Because each person had a specialised role: photography, writing and editing, blog management and web design – it was key to ensure a smooth flow between our roles. To overcome this challenge, we established a process (or a kind of timeline) by which to submit things to each other, but still maintaining flexibility for each other to comment or suggest changes. We found this to be extremely effective in increasing the production of the blogs, while maintain a high standard of quality and medical research. As the blog is focused around a sensitive topic, it was vital that we weren’t propagating misinformation and including appropriate referencing, and encouraging readers to do their own research as well. My personal role was web-designing to enhance my creativity skills through the medium of the internet.
This meant I had to learn how to balance the aspect of adapting the blog to a specific type of viewer, yet make the subject material engaging. This blog has not only taught me practical web designing skills, but has taught me to how to consider different audiences, and how to be a proponent of academic honesty online. While doing research, I found so many websites regarding breast cancer that often spread misinformation in order to sell products, or did not cite any sources. This was significant because it means that the authority of medical professionals were being undermined by online blogs. My greatest learning was the understanding of ethics relating to breast cancer, and how patients should be aware of the information they are consuming online, especially since malpractice is becoming harder to spot.
This research also came with a greater understanding of the impact of breast cancer in the wider community. In India, where some women are unable to access screening clinics, it is of utmost importance to encourage education of free screenings, such as the ones Prashanti takes care of. I learnt about the importance of economic factors in treatment regarding breast cancer – as seen in our most recent post, which was something I didn’t have awareness of before taking part in this project. This understanding helped me put things into perspective, as to how prevalent a lack of access to medication is, and how important academic honesty is regarding medical treatments.
Communication was vital during the making of the blog posts. Before starting this project, I had never worked on a team in such a large scale tasked with producing digital content, rather than a physical project. However, through this process I learnt that there is little difference between the two. Creating the blogs together was the same as putting a physical object together piece by piece. Communication and collaboration through regular meetings, meant that any ‘broken parts’ could be quickly fixed, when people showed initiative or possessed the skills to take care of that task. For example, when we needed to produce one of our longer blog posts, more people had to take part in research (including myself). Therefore, I learned that one of the most important things about working in a group to produce something, is to still maintain a flexibility. While it is good to separate our different roles, so that we are able to help each other and contribute, this flexibility in the end made us successful in producing the web articles.
Anisha Bhisey, DP 2:
Our CAS project’s aim was fundamentally based around providing information, and support to Breast Cancer patients. Since this project was centered around healthcare, it was vital that we were being sensitive and aware of the information we were putting out there – as it significantly impacts lives directly. Our group was bigger than the average, with greater than four members. This made it even more challenging to keep effectively communicating and putting out relevant and accurate content over the course of more than a month. By assigning specific roles to each of the members, we were able to establish a smooth system wherein all the aspects of the blog were covered, such as writing and editing, web designing and photography which allowed us to have a well rounded piece of work every week.
My personal role was writing and editing. Since the material was already provided to me by another team member, I had to incorporate it all in a cohesive manner without losing the interest of the reader. By having a reassuring tone, and trying to cram as much information as possible in an understandable manner without overwhelming the patient, I tried to do justice to my role – with the support of my teammates. Even though we all had separate roles, we always remembered that this task was centered around collaboration and communication, so always checked in with each other and gave feedback which allowed us to improve on our work since it was being viewed by so many different perspectives. Overall, it was a very challenging, yet informative and rewarding experience as through assimilating all the different skills I have as an IB learner, I was able to give back to society.
Personally, this project allowed me to further develop many of the skills that I had already obtained from my various CAS activities. For one, I had to manage my time and work efficiently as we had to put out content every week. In addition to this, collaborating with all my team members to communicate and be able to create a wholesome piece of work. Before this project, I had never worked with so many people before, creating a piece of work that had such a significant impact on society. It taught me responsibility, and to be able to adapt to different content. By continually writing, I was also able to improve my creativity and illustration skills.
Chaitra Takle, DP 2:
This project revolved around the aim of spreading awareness of breast cancer, along with easy to follow self-help tips for patients suffering from it. The blog we created as a product needed to be well structured, which was dependent on our group having consistently good communication and collaborative skills. This was a challenge as our group was quite big, and there were a lot of responsibilities to divide and coordinate among us in the span of a month and a half.
Fortunately, we were able to divide up the responsibilities of the blog amongst ourselves, and created an efficient system that allowed for prompt communication and effective collaboration. The responsibilities were divided equally, and soon enough a system was created that allowed us to collaborate in order to create effective layouts, content and blog posts on the website. This allowed us to create a weekly blog post, while also maintaining quality of information and communication.
My personal role in this project was writing and editing blog posts. My main focus in this role was to ensure that each blog post was saturated with information, but still comprehensive. I tried to do this by writing with a reassuring and empathetic tone, so that the reader would not be overwhelmed or confused while reading. Alongside the support of my teammates, we were able to balance readability with information to create effective and concise blog posts. Even though all of us had different jobs, we always collaborated to stay on track and this has allowed us to also improve our content and reach our goal. Overall, this was an informative and challenging experience, but by using the skills of an IB learner, we were able to create a very well-rounded product.
This project has also been an ongoing learning experience for me. I’ve learnt a lot about breast cancer in general, especially details revolving around diagnoses, treatments and lifestyle changes. Furthermore, I have also learnt more about the process of creating content for an online platform such as this blog, specifically how much effort is needed for proper coordination of roles to ensure a well rounded product is created.
In terms of my specific role in this project, I’ve learnt a lot about writing techniques and creative methods to make factual information into an empathetic and readable piece that people can use to quickly get help. I’ve also built upon my collaboration and communication skills by helping create the system that was a foundation for this group, along with using these skills to work with my peers to create the best possible outcome. Overall, this experience has been a holistic learning experience as I’ve learnt both factual and general skills in various different areas, which has helped me grow as an individual.
Anya Divekar, DP 2:
This project heavily revolved around communication and collaborative skills, which was reflected through an article made to effectively provide information regarding and supporting Breast Cancer Patients at Prashanti Cancer Care. In a span of a month and a half, we were able to divide roles to each member of the group equally, covering essential aspects such as quality of content, layouts, writing and photography. With this system, we were able to communicate well and come up with something each week to contribute the final product. Furthermore, we divided the roles as per our personal strengths and weaknesses, which encouraged interest and quality of work produced.
Something which often isn’t considered when one reads a blog, are the elements that attract the readers’ attention such as the photography and design aspects of the blog. As this is my strong suit, my role was to capture images for the background and foreground of blogs, while thinking about the colours and sizes that would make the product visually pleasing. As primary colours such as reds, blues and yellows are attractive, I captured pictures of flowers of these colours including bright pink. Furthermore, I experimented with angles while keeping in mind where the text would be placed on the blog in front of the image. Once the pictures’ opacity is reduced for effect and less emphasis, they will be used for the background. Pictures were also taken of basic objects such as medicines and fruit and vegetables for the usual images used in medical blogs.
Overall this project taught me that as IB learners, we are able to effectively use everyone’s skills to create a well rounded product, which was a challenging yet fulfilling experience. Personally, I have strengthened my communication skills when discussing areas of improvements or change within my team. I learnt how maintaining a blog is challenging with the lack of communication or regular interaction, therefore I was able to take regular required photographs while keeping up with updates. Simultaneously, I also strengthened my photography skills by experimenting with light and angles, which I would not be able to do during school hours/days.