Hands that tamed criminals now take care of cancer affected

Konark Cancer Foundation, Ray of Hope for Cancer Patients

Arup Patnaik, the man known for dealing with the likes of Dawood Ibrahim with an iron hand as the police chief of Mumbai for years, has a humane side to his personality.

Though very few persons have had a peek into this concern of the man, who prefers to work silently, he has been associated with cancer patients even while in service and now post retirement in 2015, the concern  has taken shape of a driving force for him to do good for the society.

Today, he, through his Konark Cancer Foundation, has become a beacon of hope for many cancer patients who normally lose hope in an alien place like Mumbai.

The concern to help the needy stemmed from a case where he had put in a word for someone from Odisha during his tenure in Mumbai police for availing some service at the Tata Memorial hospital .

‘’It is actually while dealing with hardcore criminals that I came across the suffering of disadvantaged groups, who move from pillar to post particularly in seeking proper treatment and facilities. So when in 1991 I was posted as DCP Bandra, the man who got a little help from me spread the word back in his hometown Delang. This was when I started receiving requests for assistance from many people,’’ explains Patnaik who also hails from Delang and is presently staying in his Bhubaneswar house.

Speaking about the objective of the foundation, Patnaik says the organisation mostly acts as an ‘aggregator’ and a mother NGO to assist people from Odisha in getting treatment. ‘’This could include finding a cheap shelter while the patient is being treated at Tata Memorial. Because it drains the patients’ families physically and exhausts financially,” stresses Patnaik.

Funds for the purpose are mostly ‘crowd sourced’ but that has never deterred the organisation from helping 200 persons since its formation in 2004. The founding members include cardiac surgeon Dr. Ramakant Panda, neurosurgeon Dr. BK Misra and chartered accountant Vijay Agarwal, who are presently the trustees.

The pace of the foundation’s work, however, increased once Patnaik came back to Odisha after his retirement eight months back.

“We are planning to set up centers in several parts of the country so that patients after landing up at these units can be referred to other centers for appropriate check up, treatment and organising funds ,” Patnaik said.

The Foundation is shortly going to start 365 club in which individual donors will pledge Rs 1 lakh each. The money will be used for the treatment of cancer patients with poor financial background.

The foundation  has a dedicated team of eight to ten volunteers who ensure proper care of patients once they land up at Tata Memorial to help in registration, admission process and seeking urgent medical attention from experts. Besides, the volunteers also assist the patient’s attendants in finding a cheap accommodation, food and other facilities.

“We monitor the patients on individual basis so that we can do the need analysis and help accordingly,” says CEO of the foundation Shweta Sharma, adding, language support is also provided to bridge the communication gap between hospital staff including doctors and the patients.

Patnaik spends bulk of his time flipping through pages of several books, gardening and playing with his pet dog. A 1979 batch IPS Officer, Arup Patnaik in his 36-year career had taken charge of Mumbai in the most crucial phase in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks during the 1990s.