The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 2.25 million are living with cancer in India and close to 1.1 million new patients are registered every year. Cancer depletes every aspect of one’s life. From biological changes to mental and social stress, dealing with cancer can have a devastating impact on the patient’s physical and psychological well being. Apart from medical treatment, patients require constant mental, nutritional and physiological support.
Carer is doing its bit to provide the healing touch here. An integrative oncology startup, Carer provides personalised and holistic cancer care to patients through the help of cancer coaches. It was started by Samara Mahindra, a cancer coach, in 2018; the venture provides integrative therapy and treatment to help patients heal better, feel better and live better during and after cancer treatment. It focuses on three primary aspects of the patient’s condition—ensure decrease in side effects, manage the treatment better and improve immunity. Carer partners with reputed oncologists and cancer hospitals (Manipal Hospitals, Aster CMI hospital) across India throughout the course of the therapy. Patients can also approach Carer directly to avail the services.
Unlike in the western countries, cancer treatment in India focuses on medication alone, ignoring lifestyle changes that could prevent relapse. This stems from lack of awareness of integrative oncology that looks beyond medication and focuses on nutrition, yoga, meditation and physiological interventions that improve patient outcomes and relieve side effects of standard treatments. Carer uses this holistic, patient-centric approach for cancer treatment, which has proven effective in addressing the patient’s physical and emotional needs at all stages of treatment. “Carer’s integrative therapy and treatment are based on globally recognised non-clinical therapies originally created and established by top cancer hospitals like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre and MD Anderson,” says Samara Mahindra, CEO & founder, Carer.
Mahindra has six-plus years of experience in the field of integrative oncology. “I am a certified fitness instructor from American Academy of personal training, New York. I am also certified as a cancer exercise specialist and breast cancer recovery trainer by Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Portland, Oregon.”
Carer has built the first integrative oncology protocol in India for cancer patients on treatment and post treatment. This protocol integrates clinical nutrition, movement and meditation and mental well-being therapy delivered by specialised cancer care therapists at the patient’s home or Carer centres. The unique methodology that creates the foundation of the Carer Protocol is proprietary to Carer and has been tested on multiple patient demographics and types of cancers, resulting in substantial improvements in treatment side effects, immunity levels, nutritional deficiencies, quality of life and all physical and mental distress.
Carer Protocol uses this holistic, patient-centric approach which goes alongside cancer treatment and has proven effective in the complete recovery of the patient. The venture has also focussed on patient data and patient outcomes. It has treated around 500 patients, of which 10% are international patients, hailing from the US, UK, Middle East, Africa and South East Asia, shaping and customising its approach based on region, ethnic and cultural backgrounds of a patient to best suit their needs, measuring 35-40 parameters in quality of life. “We have a strong base of therapists predominately in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi and have partnered with over 150 oncologists and all the major hospitals in South India, such as Fortis, NH, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Aster, Manipal and so on,” she informs.
Carer has raised funding from Zhooben Bhiwandiwala, head of Mahindra Partners and Sahul Agarwal of Sahul Capital. “We have been approached to adapt similar practices in other verticals, such as neurological conditions, cardiac, nephrology, etc. While this is tempting, we aim to specialise in oncology at the moment,” she adds.