Love For Grandma Inspires Brothers To Start Social Venture For Cancer Patients5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
For Delhi brothers Samarth and Sarthak.2015 was a tough year since their beloved grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. To help her and other like her cope with the side-effects of chemo, they decided to team up and start Chemo Caps in 2017.
This social venture helps those who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy by providing them with breathable, affordable and comfortable head gear. Then, what started as a means to help their grandmother, who unfortunately passed away in 2017, turned into a business. Owliver caught up with Sarthak of Chemo Caps, who shares the brothers’ heart-warming journey…
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in our body. Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body. Nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue and fever are some of the side-effects of this treatment.
Three of my immediate family members were diagnosed with cancer within a span of three years. My grandmother, who we lost, and my aunts, who recovered. Chemotherapy had robbed them of their hair and I noticed how it affected their self-esteem. At the hospital, I observed that other people undergoing chemotherapy also faced similar issues. This is when the idea emerged
In 2015-2016, when we searched for chemo caps, we found limited options online and they were mostly available outside of India. These were expensive and took a long time to be shipped. In India, there were no chemo caps at all.
Fortunately, my mother’s garment business helped us conduct experiments with fabrics and fittings. We even approached a few garment factories and pitched our
idea. They were happy to let us choose from their surplus fabric stock. After much work, we found that cotton works best.
How did they balance school and starting their own venture?
I was in Class 10 and Samarth was in Class 11 when we started this project. Since I had my board exams that year, I couldn’t be physically
present. So, I managed back-end aspects like production, connecting with garment factories for their surplus stocks and distribution.
How do the distribution drives work?
Initially, we held free distribution and marketing camps at hospitals and NGOs. We also tied up with the cancer departments at the AIIMS and Tata Memorial, and NGOs such as Yes to Life and CanSupport. We revamped our website for online sales in 2019 and decided to cap the price so that it is affordable for everyone.
Have the brothers always been drawn to social work?
Every year, one month of our summer holidays was spent in
Nagpur at my grandparents’ home. My nani was involved in a variety of social
welfare associations and used to take us along with her for events. I
remember volunteering for NGO Uddhaar in Nagpur. where we organised ‘Jaipur Foot’ camps for differently-abled people. We also assisted in cataract and polio camps.
Plans for Chemo Caps
We would like to be able to reach more states for distribution and to create awareness so that women can stop using polyester dupattas to cover their heads. In the past year, due to Covid-19, we have not been able to hold distribution drives. However, we will be starting again this summer.
What are the brothers upto now
Samarth studies at Rotman School of Commerce in Canada, while also handling correspondence, dispatch of orders and taking stock for Chemo Caps. He loves music, travel and learning new languages.
I am studying for my Class 12 board exams. My interests are basketball, travelling, music and trying out different culinary delicacies.
Sarthak had a few words to share with our readers, here’s what he has to say…
Pricing and how to reach out to Chemo Caps:
The caps are priced at Rs 150 and scarves are priced at Rs 250. They are available online for purchase on chemocaps.co.in
Trailblazers is a weekly column where we feature inspiring youngsters who are doing great things, in their own way.
Photos: Sarthak Nath