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A Family Affair

May 10, 2023

Dr. Sarojini Naidu and her brother Kailash (left) are participating in Workout to Conquer Cancer out of gratitude for their dad’s life-saving care.

As a physician, Dr. Sarojini Naidu can easily speak to the science behind the complex medical care her dad underwent after his double-hit lymphoma diagnosis in 2016. Similarly, she’s had to inform several of her patients at the start of their own cancer journeys. But what she wasn’t prepared for was the life-altering impact the disease would have on her family.

“Together, we faced a grueling battle,” she says of her dad’s extensive chemotherapy, eventual cancer recurrence and resulting stem cell transplant. “We quickly learned that the only way to get through it was to lean on each other and stay positive.”

Four years post-transplant, Sarojini’s dad is doing well and she and her brother Kailash are teaming up for other families that will follow in their footsteps through Workout to Conquer Cancer.

Sarojini formed team Lifesavers in 2019 after co-workers and patients at her Orchid Medical Care clinic in New Westminister expressed an interest in joining her in the daily workouts. Together, they’ve raised more than $20,000 every year, for the past several years. And while this is Kailash’s second year participating, it’s his first year co-captaining the team.

“My brother Kailash is special needs, and moving every day in May to raise funds for BC Cancer is a great way to get him involved — to support our dad, and the rest of the community,” says Sarojini.

To help Kailash spread the word, and fundraise among his friends and network at the program he attends, he has a book explaining his mission and a flyer with a QR code that links to the Lifesaver’s donation page.

Sarojini says her experience at BC Cancer, and her work as a Catalyst Ambassador at the BC Cancer Foundation, has helped her understand the role philanthropy can play in covering medical costs. “Just one of the stimulating medicines for my dad’s bone marrow was about $10,000 an injection,” she says.

It’s also helped her guide her patients through their own diagnoses. “Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of women that I’ve diagnosed with breast cancer in the last couple of years,” she says.

“But it’s so great to see the innovation, the research going on in gene therapy and immunotherapy. There are so many new advances. When I have to give these diagnoses to patients I can say, ‘Yes, you have this but, it’s okay because it’s readily treatable. It’s not as scary as it was 10 to 15 years ago when unfortunately there was not much we could have done.’”

Being physically active every day not only sets a good example for her patients, it also raises funds for the research that provides hope for other families facing cancer, says Sarojini. “It’s a win-win!”

Workout to Conquer Cancer challenges participants from across the province to complete 30 minutes of physical activity every day in May in support of BC Cancer. Donate today or sign up to participate at workouttoconquercancer.ca