BINDU SHAJAN PERAPPADAN
Forty-five-year-old Michele Baldwin was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer last year. Using this as an opportunity to raise public awareness about the disease, she is now paddling down the Ganga to educate the women about cervical cancer.
“My expedition — The Starry Ganga Expedition — is a journey of faith where I believe that a small change can make a big difference,” said Ms. Baldwin. With her at every step of the journey is her mother, who follows her along the shore.
The expedition, which started from Rishikesh two months ago, is being supported by a non-profit organisation, Global Initiative against HPV and Cervical Cancer.
“Ms. Baldwin's journey is an inspiring one because she knows she has terminal cancer and instead of being depressed about it she has taken it as an opportunity or challenge even to help ‘save' other women. She has chosen to make women aware that fighting cervical cancer is possible,'' said Shobha Krishnan of Global Initiative against HPV and Cervical Cancer.
“In between her journey, Ms. Baldwin camps at the river banks and speaks to women in the area about cervical cancer, her fight with the disease and how simple tests can help in early detection and possible cure of the cancer. Several thousand women in India die due to cervical cancer, which is one of the few cancers that can be detected early on and cured. There is a severe lack of awareness about cervical cancer in the country,” added Dr. Krishnan.
“She was diagnosed with cervical cancer but moved her residence before the hospital reports could reach her, and later because of delays in medical health check-ups the cancer went undetected till it reached a stage where it cannot be cured. She says being on the Ganga gives her peace and she that she has always been fascinated by the river which means so much to the Indians. In her words, the experience on the river has been inspiration till now,'' said Dr. Krishnan.