CPAA: Cancer Aid & Cancer Awareness in India CPAA: Cancer Aid & Cancer Awareness in India
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Modest Beginnings
Early Hiccups
The Move to King George V Memorial
Friends and Wellwishers

Modest Beginnings

CPAA’s story began in 1969 when Founder Chairman, Mr. Y. K. Sapru happened to encounter little Jaya Jhabbar, who was battling leukemia. Although her prognosis was good, her family did not have the funds to support the recommended chemotherapy treatment. Her plight prompted Mr. Sapru and a few friends to pool their resources in the first efforts at relief, which took the form of free medicines and guidance. Jaya was cured and CPAA was born.

The founders' experiences showed them that there was a crying need to assist poor and needy cancer patients, and this was indeed the single objective at that time. But it was easier dreamt of,  than done.


Early Hiccups

Resources were limited to just Rs.500 and a second hand typewriter. People were suspicious and donations were extremely hard to come by. Such funds as we received came from moneyboxes placed at various locations in Mumbai. Nasty letters were sent to donors questioning the use the funds were being put to. Other cancer societies sent CPAA angry missives demanding that the association dissolve and merge with them. An article discrediting CPAA activities appeared in Blitz magazine.

Then our luck turned. Patients who had been helped by CPAA wrote in to share their experiences. One even said, "Had it not been for Cancer Patients Aid Association, I would have been six feet under the ground." There was such an outcry that Blitz was forced to retract the offending article.

Volunteers like 16-year-old Naseem Matani gave generously of their time. 30 years on, Naseem’s daughter, Rouhi, carries on the association.

CPAA was granted an audience with the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi extended her unconditional support to us (which was a big morale booster); gave us a note commending the "laudable job" we were doing, along with a personal cheque for Rs.5000; agreed to come on board as our Chief Patron; and continued to support us over the years.


The Move to Smt. Panadevi Dalmia Cancer Management Centre

Cancer Management CentreOur first office was a room in the Saprus’ house. Later, we rented premises in the then India House (now renamed to Malhotra House). Initially called "Aid Disbursement Centre", it remains CPAA’s Administrative office.

In 1994 CPAA approached the King George V Memorial Infirmary Trust (established in 1936 to rehabilitate destitutes, the handicapped and other poor and needy people) to request the use of their derelict premises. The Municipal Corporation of Mumbai granted permission and one of the barracks on the sprawling campus was made available. With funds generously donated by Mr. Madanlal Dalmia, in memory of his wife, the derelict barracks underwent a dramatic transformation. In 1996 Mr. P. C. Alexander, Governor of Maharashtra, inaugurated the Smt. Panadevi Madanlal Dalmia Leukemia Care Centre. Today the Centre houses the Rehabilitation Centre, the Pathology Laboratory and the offices of employees working in the Rehabilitation and Patient Care Departments.


Friends and well wishers

Friends and WellwishersApart from Mrs. Gandhi, CPAA has attracted many well wishers and supporters over the years. The film industry (movie stars and producers) has been extremely supportive. The Kapoor family, Sunil Dutt and Yash Chopra have held gala premieres of their films for our benefit. Heartthrobs like Salman Khan, Sunil Shetty and Sanjay Dutt are always available when asked to help entertain children with cancer. Personalities from public life - Ali Yavar Jung (then Governor of Maharashtra), V.P. Naik (then Chief Minister of Maharashtra), P. C. Alexander (the current Governor of Maharashtra), Karan Singh (formerly Union Minister of Health) - gave generously of their time and encouragement. Singers - Begum Akhtar, Pankaj Udhas, Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh and Anup Jalota – have performed at our fund-raising programmes.

Among sports stars, we are grateful to Sunil Gavaskar, cricketing legend, who launched our revamped website. Bowler, Venkatesh Prasad has given us a great deal of support in the past. Former test cricketer, Raju Kulkarni, handed over the proceedings of his benefit match to CPAA, and today his Supremo T-shirts have a standing order with our Rehabilitation Centre.

A number of corporate houses support our activities. These include ACC, Bharat Petroleum, Cabot India, Citibank, Colgate Palmolive, Crompton Greaves, Hindustan Lever Limited, Hindustan Petroleum, Indian Oil Corporation, Jardine Fleming, RPG Industries and Reliance Industries.




Founder Chairman, Mr. Y. K. Sapru encounters little Jaya Jhabbar, who is battling leukemia. Mr. Sapru and a few friends pool their resources in the first efforts at relief, which takes the form of free medicines and guidance. Jaya is cured and CPAA takes wing. Siloo Jasdanwalla, a colleague of Mr. Sapru, is persuaded to join the fledgling organization. Rekha Sapru, journalist and Mr. Sapru’s wife, is roped in to help.


Resources were limited to just Rs. 500 and a second hand typewriter. People were suspicious and donations were extremely hard to come by. The only funds that we received initially were from moneyboxes placed at various locations in Mumbai. Then our luck turned, when CPAA was granted an audience with the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi extended her unconditional support to us which was a big morale booster; she gave us a note commending the ‘laudable job’ we were doing, along with a personal cheque for Rs. 5,000; agreed to come on board as our Chief Patron; and continued to support us over the years.


Dr. Shashi Bakre joins CPAA as Medical Director. She is put in charge of a team of 5 doctors and they start holding Cancer Screening Clinics (OPDs) at the Sophia College Medical Centre to screen persons with a perceived high cancer risk.


Veteran showman, Raj Kapoor, holds the premier show of his movie, Bobby, for CPAA’s benefit. Rs. 1 lakh is collected, Bobby goes on to become a smash hit. For a while, movie premieres are the primary source of fund raising.


Zainab Allana comes on board and fundraising activities change from largely money-box collections to employee contributions.

  • Madhu Hukku starts the CPAA branch in New Delhi.

  • 18 year old Gulshan Hodiwalla joins CPAA. Today she is the Head of Administration and in charge of the daily running of CPAA as an Executive Director

1980 Cancer Screening Clinic moves to St. Elizabeth Nursing Home.
  • CPAA organizes a Cancer Exhibition. President of India, Giani Zail Singh inaugurates the exhibition.

  • Manju Gupta comes to cover CPAA for Doordarshan, and is persuaded by the Saprus to join CPAA. She is now the Executive Director CPAA’s Rehabilitation Center, which has resurrected lives of over 25,000 patients and family members. Today it has annual sales of over Rs 1 crore.

  • Alka Kapadia joins CPAA Administrative Officer in charge of the Head and Neck Project at JJ Hospital.

  • CPAA acquires its first vehicle, an ambulance. We now have 11 vehicles including ambulances, jeeps and vans, which allow us to provide free transportation to patients.

  • CPAA starts the Rehabilitation Center at Adams Wylie Hospital at Agripada to provide patients and their relative’s gainful employment and teach them specialized skills. CPAA’s Joan Shenoy designed the Centre, which also housed the cancer screening clinics. CPAA’s Kumud Singh took great effort to put together a team to run and manage the Center.

  • CPAA is selected by the Government of India to be a recipient of funds raised from taxes on races at Mahalakshmi. We receive these funds till 1995.

  • At the request of Dr. Karimbhoy, CPAA sets up a counseling cell at Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai in the Hematology Department, Ward No 13.

  • Dr. R.S. Rao, then Director of Tata Memorial Hospital and Dr. Praful Desai, eminent cancer surgeon, ask CPAA to help the hospital set up a Preventive Oncology Department. Today we are involved in a number of counseling efforts at Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) and The Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), the state-of-the-art R&D satellite of TMC.

  • Sarla Kohli starts the CPAA branch in Bangalore. 

  • CPAA introduces the Cancer Insurance Policy in collaboration with New India Assurance Company. We currently have over 12,000 policy holders. 

  • CPAA’s Joan Shenoy conceptualized Cancer Rose Day to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first attempt at cancer patient support made by CPAA. It is a day we reach out to all cancer patients in Mumbai. It has now gained momentum and is celebrated throughout the country.

  • At the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) conference in New Delhi, CPAA puts up a stall showcasing its’ activities and also presents a paper.

  • Graeme Brien, Executive Director of Queensland Cancer Foundation, invites CPAA’s Viji Venkatesh to the 12th Asia Pacific Cancer Conference at Singapore to talk about ‘Problems in Organizing Voluntary Cancer Societies’.

  • Dolly Rizvi starts the CPAA branch in Pune.

  • CPAA’s Viji Venkatesh travels to Australia under the William Rudder Travel Grant for a three-week training programme with the Queensland Cancer Foundation.

  • CPAA’s Rehabilitation and Patient Services Unit become operational at the Smt. Panadevi Dalmia Cancer Management Centre. Mr. P. C. Alexander, the then Governor of Maharashtra, inaugurates it. CPAA’s Joan Shenoy was responsible in converting the derelict barracks into our Corporate Office housing the offices of employees, the Rehabilitation Centre, the Pathology Laboratory.

  • 7 CPAA representatives attend the UICC-sponsored 1st World Conference for Cancer Organisations at Melbourne. Viji Venkatesh is asked to chair one of the sessions as UICC fellow. She talks about her experience as a Scholarship awardee and on ‘Education at the Workplace’.

  • At the Asia Pacific Cancer Conference in Hong Kong, CPAA’s Viji Venkatesh presents two papers - on the Breast Cancer situation in Mumbai and the recently started Head and Neck Cancers Support Group. She is appointed committee member of COPES (Community Organisations for Prevention, Education and Support).

  •  CPAA is given Room No. 189 in the Golden Jubilee Building at TMC. Halima Aurangabadkar is permanently stationed in this room for the counseling and support of cancer patients.

  • CPAA’s Viji Venkatesh and Alka Kapadia attend the UICC conference in Rio
  • A state-of-the-art Pathology lab is inaugurated at Naigaon. Cancer screening is done free at this centre, and other tests are done at a highly subsidized rate. All this is made possible by a generous grant from the Shahani Trust.
  • 4016 individuals are screened in camps on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day.

  • Dr. Shubha Maudgal joins CPAA as Director, Special Projects.

  • KSB Pumps sponsors the first Well Woman’s Clinic, an initiative to screen 800 economically backward women for breast cancer. The screening includes a free mammogram.

  • CPAA’s Viji Venkatesh is asked to be a plenary speaker at the UICC conference in Atlanta. She is asked to chair a session on Palliative Care at the 15th Asia Pacific Cancer Conference to be held in Chennai in December.

  • Glaxo and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories donates a percentage of the sales from some of their cancer related drugs, to CPAA.

  • Sunil Gavaskar opens the CPAA website innings at Crossroads on 26th November, 1999. "As in sports have faith in yourself, determination to meet and beat the challenge and patience for the results." - Sunil Gavaskar

  • CPAA’s revamped website is launched.

2000 Chats started on the website.
2001 The online Payment Gateway is launched, to enable donations using credit cards   through the website, by David Good, American Consul General.
  • Research on psyco social effects of cancer is initiated with a study on the role played by counselors in understanding treatment options which is presented at the Conference on Emotional, Social, Psychological, Spiritual and Caring aspects of Cancer, at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore
  • CPAA participates for the first time in the World Conference on Breast Cancer held every three years in Canada. We participate again in 2005, 2008 and are invited to join the organizing committee for 2011.
2003 CPAA is invited to partner World Health Organisation and Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to observe 'World No Tobacco Day'. Anita Peter organizes different programmes every year to ensure the attention of the appropriate audience. 
  • CPAA is invited to join the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund (NBCCF), an internationally known advocacy group.

  • World no Tobacco Day screening touches a new high, covering over 2500 persons in one week. Neeta More organizes camps in other cities, towns and states, besides Mumbai.

  • CPAA starts research work with Reliance Life Sciences on the significance of HPV infections as a precursor to cervical cancer.

  • CPAA starts its fundraising art exhibition and sale, ‘Colours of Life’

  • Rose day reaches out to 33 locations in Mumbai and becomes a nationally observed day. Vinaya Chacko ensures participation from all levels of society.

  • CPAA conducts research work on psyco social effects of childhood cancer. Results were presented at the International Society for Pediatric Oncology (SIOP), Geneva.

  • CPAA organizes Art Camp involving 14 women artists from 14 cities and four countries.

  • CPAA helps to organize the 1st National Tobacco Control Conference, Mumbai. 

  • CPAA participates in the Reach to Recovery conference 'Jagruti', Mumbai December 2007.
  • CPAA is part of the organizing committee of the SIOP conference, Mumbai, India
  • CPAA participates in UICC, Geneva 

  • CPAA is awarded its first Capacity Building funding grant By UICC to study tobacco use and awareness amongst marginalised children. The study is later published in the Indian Journal of Cancer.

  • CPAA blocks the patenting of a drug, resulting in availability of the genric equivalent at one tenth the price.

  • We are invited to Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum for the Private Eye Award.
  • CPAA hosts interns from premier institutions from the US (Harvard, Dukes) and UK (Cancer Research, UK, City Universtity of London)

  • Our 3 day training programme 'Psyco Oncology Volunteers' Training Programme' begins and goes on to become immensely popular.

  • CPAA helps organize “Frontiers in Carcinogenesis and Cancer Prevention: Scientific Endeavours and Public Health Initiatives”, 5th-7th February, 2010.

  • CPAA participates in UICC, China, SIOP, Boston, Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health, Sydney, Australia


CPAA launches it's Tobacco Cessation Programme, 'QUIT TOBACCO FOR LIFE' - a unique programme to help those who wish to quit tobacco habits - smoking or smokeless. Know more


CPAA's Scientific Committee was initiated in accordance with national and international guidelines, with CPAA's Chairman and CEO, Mr. Y K Sapru as the Chairman of the committee. The mandate of the committee was : Review and approval of new projects, assessment of the progress to ensure culmination of the project with presentations and publications of the results in peer reviewed national and international journals, and conferences and a systematic review of departmental projects, and re-organisation for achieving maximum efficiency.

CPAA was invited by the Indian Army's 3rd Battalion, Dogra Regiment, to conduct cancer screening camps at the Baramulla District in Jammu & Kashmir (LOC). CPAA's diagnostic team and doctors screened and counseled over 500 underprivileged people from the villages of Uri, Maiya, Kamalkote, Salamabad, Nawa Runda, Bijihama, Sangria, Lachipora, Odina, Guhallan. Medicines prescribed by the doctors were given to all, through 'Sadbhavana Project', by the Indian Army. Under the project 'RAHAT' further treatment will be provided free of cost to the underprivileged screened in these camps, at Sher-i-Kashmir Medical Centre, Srinagar, by Mazagon Dock Limited and supported by Indian Army - The Dogra Regiment & Kalapahar Brigade.

The World Health Organisation selected CPAA for the World No Tobacco Day 2012 Award for its outstanding contribution in the area of Tobacco control in India with special commendation for its youth-based projects.

2013 Opening of CPAA's Dr. Vithaldas Parmar Research & Medical Center at Worli, Mumbai.