WARM WELCOME: More than 40 patients have so far used the accommodation facility offered by Suresh Agarwal
Ketan Tanna meets the man who has put his spare flat to good use
Mumbai: Cancer is a cruel and expensive disease. It drains you physically and exhausts you financially. And for the thousands of families who travel to Mumbai for treatment, one of the most challenging hurdles is to find a cheap and safe place to stay while the patient is being treated. Which is why a threebedroom flat in Kandivli is like an answer to a prayer.
A few years ago, businessman Suresh Agarwal, 47, realised that accommodation for outstation families was a crying need. For the last two years, his spare flat in Kandivliâ€™s Lokhandwala area has been hosting cancer patients and their relatives who have not been able to get accommodation at Tata Memorial Hospital or Hinduja Hospital.
On an average, four patients are allowed to stay in the flat for up to three months. The flat is furnished and has a proper kitchen where the patients or their family members can cook as well.The lodging is free, and all that is needed is a letter from the doctor treating the patient. So far, 45 patients have used this generous facility.
Itâ€™s not just free boarding that Agarwal provides. Last week, he organised a musical show called Amit Kumar Night that raised Rs 35 lakh for Hinduja Hospital. Around two years ago, another musical event called the Vinod Rathod Night had raised Rs 15 lakh for the hospital.
Agarwal, who runs a plastic factory in Daman, knows too well the havoc cancer can cause to family life. His younger brother Sushil, now 45, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1987.
His brother-in-law, too, developed lung cancer in 1992 and later the wife of his brother-in-law was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
What followed were almost daily visits to Hinduja where he became friends with the doctors and the management of the hospital. Even after his brother and relatives recovered, Agarwal continued to visit the hospital. On one such round, he noticed a frail person sobbing in the waiting area. He found out that the manâ€™s treatment had been stopped midway as he was unable to pay.
It was then that Agarwal decided that he had to do something. After consulting the management, Agarwal decided to create a corpus so that each time there was a needy patient, the corpus could be used. It has helped many patients.
The Agarwal family has its roots in Assam. Soon after Sushil was treated successfully, they started getting requests for help from cancer patients from that state. â€œAn empty flat near my home spurred me into offering it free to needy cancer patients,â€™â€™ says Agarwal.
Dr Asha Kapadia, head of the oncology department at Hinduja Hospital, says, â€œI wish we had more people like him.â€™â€™ Suresh Agarwal can be contacted on 98200 65184.