Conquering Cancer with Cuddles
My journey started with a visit to Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai when I came across families that go to cities like Mumbai and New Delhi to seek treatment. There I happened to see a little girl who reminded me so much of my daughter who was exactly the same age. That was the turning point in my life where I decided I had to do something,” she said.
Purnota is the founder of the Cuddles Foundation, an organization that provides nutrition to under-resourced kids fighting against cancer. There are 50,000 cases of pediatric cancer estimated ever year in India, out of which 40% of those diagnosed are malnourished
Purnota’s switch from the corporate world to becoming a social entrepreneur began eight years ago. Post her decision to quit the corporate career, she learned about nutrition, spoke to doctors and nutritionists, and began working on the blueprints for a non-profit organization that had a mission of fighting cancer with food and nutrition. Using her marketing skills and existing credibility, she collaborated with the medical industry and added many pediatric oncologists to her army of heroes.
She faced various obstacles in her path, there was minimal awareness about the malnourishment in children with cancer, and the adverse impact that had. She adds, “In the beginning, whenever I would talk about children with cancer, people would assume that I was seeking help for treatment funds. It has taken us four years to aggressively create awareness about the fact that 40 percent of all children under cancer treatment do not survive because of malnourishment”.
Starting with just one hospital in one city, the organization has grown to 33 hospitals in 21 cities across the country. They have given an estimated 3,78,000 counsels to children undergoing cancer treatment. In 2016, Cuddles was recognized by the President of India with the National Award for Child Welfare. Purnota was also awarded the National Award of Child Welfare by the President.
Cuddles has an all-female team, from the executives to the pediatric nutritionists. She has provided several women with a great employment opportunity, to work in an exciting and challenging environment, while doing their part to contribute to society. In the past seven years, the undeterred determination of Purnota and her team has had a massive impact on the dynamic of the war against cancer. In 2018, Cuddles developed its own app to aid nutritionists to grade a child’s malnourishment level and provide appropriate counsel and aid to under-resourced families who cannot access adequate healthcare.
She has set her goals high, aspiring to have a 100% coverage of all children undergoing cancer treatment in the next 5 years and to take the Cuddles model to other developing corners of the world.
The passionate soul of Purnota Dutta Bahl has been the driving force to the happiness of several under-resourced families over the years. Her unwavering motivation and massive growth in the last 7 years has resulted in her being at the frontline in the war against the villainous force of cancer in India. She is the definition of an unsung hero, working tirelessly to help thousands.
Authored by: Aditya Anand