Megha Ahuja would have been shocked when she learned of her mother’s ovarian cancer last year. She could have been shattered. But she is a strong woman. She did her research and found that while there still some information on breast and cervical cancer, there is very scanty knowledge of ovarian cancer.
This led her to launch Sashakt – The Ovarian Cancer Foundation in October 2018. According to a report in YourStory, the 32-year-old Ahuja received tremendous support from her family and friends, and the staff and children at her school for the foundation of Sashakt – a non-profit organisation that seeks to make every woman sashakt (empowered) with knowledge and support to fight ovarian cancer. The organisation, based in Delhi, spreads awareness on the disease through workshops, events and social media campaigns.
The Indian Council for United Nations Relations (ICUNR) recognised Ahuja for her work through Sashakt with the International Women’s Day Award in March this year. She runs Udaan, an afternoon school for girls with special needs, and is the director at Vivekanand School. Ahuja is a TEDx organiser and an author too.
Today Ahuja’s mother is on the road to recovery, but she feels that knowledge of the symptoms would have helped in early diagnosis and treatment of her mother’s disease. She reveals that the symptoms of ovarian cancer are so subtle that patients often miss them, or opt for no more than home remedies.
Sashakt has reached out to women through awareness workshops in schools, colleges, and corporate organisations. It has also reached out to women in slums and rural areas near Gurugram. it has also mobilised the support of Koala Cab drivers, who have helped in distributing awareness posters in Hindi among their communities. The organisation has also collaborated with WorldMark, and Innov8 coworking spaces, and with SHEROES in their health community. Campaigns are also run on Radio Nasha and Ishq FM. Events like the Sashakt Hope Meet and the Sashakt Teal Party have also played a big role in spreading awareness about ovarian cancer.
The #AskYourMom campaign on social media has been another big initiative of Sashakt. Launched on May 12, it encouraged women to discuss with their mothers and grandmothers about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and visit a doctor if symptoms persist for more than two weeks. It involved noted influencers like Rajeev Khandelwal, Manoj Muntashir, Gaurav Chopra, the Indian women’s cricket team, renowned authors, entrepreneurs, and social activists in the campaign.
Ahuja emphasises that cancer is not a death sentence and that the only way to defeat the disease is to accept the reality, embrace the pain and find the courage to move ahead, one day at a time. Through her efforts, she has been able to fill the hearts of numerous people suffering from cancer with hope and has made ready to fight the disease head-on.