Way back in the 70s as a young Cancer Surgeon Dr L J DeSousa (fondly known as Dr Luzito) came across many patients for whom there was nothing more that the medical world had to offer – by way of surgery or medications. In such a hopeless situation they found themselves looking into the dark night of despair. Waiting for the end to come. In some cases it happened soon, in others it painfully lingered on. The 70s & 80s were the dark ages in Cancer Care. At least in India. That was a time when Dr DeSousa happened to visits St Christopher’s Hospice in the UK. And met a wonderful human being Dame Cicely Saunders who was a pioneer in modern Hospice Care. She had started the first of many Hospices. No one knew what a Hospice meant. Leave alone lay people even medical professionals were not aware of the word.
Dr DeSousa responded to the Indian context by establishing the Shanti Avedna Sadan in 1980. For this he received support & encouragement from the Archdiocese of Bombay & several benefactors. It was not easy at first. Cancer was considered a taboo. The first task was to dispel all fears. Pain relieving drugs like Morphine were banned in the country. It was a mammoth task – convincing Policy Makers, Politicians, Donors and Benefactors.
God makes the impossible, possible! Defying all odds Shanti Avedna Sadan saw the light of day in 1986 in the shadow of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount (Mt Mary’s Bandra).