Pink Sari Inc launches Cancer Info and Care program

The CanInfo and Care project provides culturally sensitive information and support to those from the South Asian community recently diagnosed with cancer.

Reading Time: 3 minutes


The pink saris were aired yet again this past week for the Sydney-based Pink Sari Inc, in what has been their third major event in as many months.

Following their glamorous presence at the Sydney Pink Test in January, and The Sari Walk in the CBD on World Cancer Day in February, this time round Pink Sari Inc (PSI) was down to brass tacks, promoting a major program in their overall mission to lessen the impact of cancer in the South Asian community in NSW.

The volunteer-run organisation formally launched its ‘CanInfo and Care’ project – which aims to provide culturally sensitive information and support to those from the South Asian community recently diagnosed with cancer.

Source: Supplied

Dr. Usha Salagame, PSI Advisory Board Member and one of the architects of the new program, told Indian Link, “Our initiative is about smoothening the process of treatment and recovery by providing information and services in a culture-specific manner. We encourage affected persons to connect with us and tell us what they are looking for. If we have the information on hand, we impart that knowledge right away. If we don’t, then we put them in touch with the concerned professionals or service providers.”

She added, “These could be professionals such as psycho-oncologists or physiotherapists; or they could be other providers such as Indian caterers or transport help. Again, we could help with providing information about access to government services such as disability or carers’ allowance, or help in understanding gap payments. Those undergoing treatment need to learn new information – and that too pretty soon – to navigate the health system. This info is not available on mainstream platforms, or our community members don’t know how to access it.”

Dr. Salagame also pointed out that while there could be some hesitation to talk about the diagnosis, or to come forward and seek support in addition to their treatment, access to supportive care could be helpful at this time.

She clarified, “We are not about health care; we are about supportive care.”

The CanInfo and Care program came about thanks to a grant provided by the Cancer Institute NSW last year, Dr Salagame revealed.

“We used focus groups to collect information on gaps / unmet needs amongst those recently diagnosed,” she described.

A growing bunch of clinicians, service providers, supporters, well-wishers and ambassadors joined Pink Sari Inc President Shantha Viswanathan and Dr Salagame and their team on the occasion.

Doing the honours, Andrew Charlton, MP for Parramatta said, “Congratulations to Shantha Viswanathan and team at Pink Sari Inc. Pink Sari does incredible work – giving hope and courage to those going through cancer.”

The event also saw a cancer survivor talk about the benefits of these services. Sue Advani, a well-regarded community volunteer herself, spoke from lived experience when she said that if a platform such as Pink Sari’s CanInfo and Care was available when she was undergoing her own treatment, it would have helped ease the process.

Source: Supplied

Sue observed, “I have always been English-literate and health-literate and so could research the processes and help myself, but others may not find themselves in this position.”

Usha Salagame is a recent addition to the team at Pink Sari, and is proving to be a valuable contributor. A cancer researcher herself – she has a PhD in breast cancer – she has worked with Cancer Australia, Cancer Council, Cancer Institute NSW, Cancer NSW and at hospitals such as Westmead. She has been on the advisory boards of other cancer bodies and is a member of Cancer Voices. She continues to be involved professionally in this health field on a pro-bono basis.

“Over and above this professional experience, I also have personal experience of cancer, of what it feels like from the other side,” she revealed.

With experience such as hers and other members of her team, these pinkaholics are well on the way to becoming a valuable support system for those that need them.

Contact Pink Sari Inc via email at: contact@pinksari.org.au, or visit their website

READ MORE: Pink Sari Inc: Seven years of pink power

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

What's On