Teens for Cancer Patients (TCP): Youth-led organization combats cancer

Do you know of a friend, family member or even a distant relative diagnosed with cancer? Unfortunately, most people answer ‘yes’ to that question. The statistics agree that around 1.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in India, and 800,000 pass away. That’s over half the patients who were diagnosed. 

Such an alarming statistic is attributed to the financial toxicity of cancer treatment in India, wherein over 50% of patients consider or do drop out of chemotherapy. The average cost of the treatment is twice the annual income of the average Indian. The impact of this toxicity can be debt-accumulating for several generations, child labour within the family and even the need to work overtime or take up part-time jobs, sometimes even during chemotherapy. 

Shaken by this statistic, Varshini Vijay started looking up important stories and talking to patients. One such story is of Anchal Sharma who was diagnosed with third stage cancer. She faced financial difficulties initially, since she came from a humble family, with six people living in one room. She had to sell everything she had for her treatment and even borrowed money from her friends; in spite of this she hid her condition from her parents as she didn’t want to worry them. Strangers pitched in to help finance her treatment and provided support, too. While undergoing her treatment, she would talk to other patients, providing them with motivation and optimism. She would help provide meals to people even when she was unable to raise funds for meals by cooking on her own.

These stories and statistics led our founder, Varshini Vijay, to pursue her passion for helping people. “Having a family member diagnosed with cancer was extremely painful for me. The impact on the whole family, the financial burden, the emotional trauma, and the big question, ‘Will they survive after all of this?’ all haunted me. After doing some research, I was shocked to find out that there are very few international cancer NGOs for teenagers currently. I realized that this needed to be changed, and I saw myself contributing to find a solution to innovate and play a part in bringing this change. Because of this vision I had, I created my non-profit venture to help the underprivileged.” 

Thus started Teens for Cancer Patients (TCP), an international youth-led organization dedicated to battling cancer. Since launching in September 2021, TCP has served over 400 persons in 12 countries with 10+ chapters, hosted the successful event, “Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Prevention”, with over 90+ attendees, provided 10,000 menstrual products to combat cervical cancer, and fundraised over 3 lakhs for financially sensitive patients.

Our success is largely owed to our motivation that we find in seeing the smiles of patients when they receive treatment. It is a truly humbling and inspiring experience that makes all our hard work worth it. Our work has taught us that no matter who you are, or where you come from, you can be a changemaker in your community and society at large. 

Experience the joy of joining a close-knit, international family that wants to make a difference and the joy of volunteering, giving back, and of saving lives. Go to teensforcancerpatients.org or e-mail teensforcancerpatients@gmail.com and review linktr.ee/teens_for_cancer_patients for more information.

Varshini Vijay is the President and Founder of an international non-profit, President of a technology club, an AI researcher, and member of a team winning a $10,000 MIT grant. She is passionate about technology and cancer prevention and is actively seeking better healthcare through innovation.

Ayantika Goswami is a keen reader who wishes to educate all those who read her writings on the great unknown.