She’s been described as the new ‘poster girl’ for the fight against cancer and was even chosen to front a new ad campaign for Cancer Research UK earlier this year.
Now, breast cancer survivor Seema Jaya Sharma – whose music videos and video diaries have inspired thousands – is taking her campaigning to another level.
Tuesday saw the launch of www.canmates.com, an online “friend finder” service aimed at the friends and family of cancer sufferers struggling to cope with the horrific diseases that is becoming increasingly prevalent but remains little understood within the British Asian community in the UK.
36-year-old Sharma, a mother of two, set up the website after seeing the impact her diagnosis had on her mother and two young children.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer everyone’s focus was on me and my well being and my comfort. But what about my mother? What about my friends?
It’s important for these people to be able to connect with others who can empathize with their situation and understand what helps and what doesn’t. That’s what we aim to achieve with canmates.com”, Sharma said.
It’s not merely virtual interaction between people going through a harrowing experience.
On a more practical level, the website offers people the opportunity to offer and exchange various skills to help individuals and families coping with cancer.
Sharma, a single mother, says it would have been virtually impossible for her two young children, now aged 15 and 7, to be looked after as she underwent treatment and is thankful to her mother who took over childminding duties.
With canmates.com’s ‘Skills Bank’, people can offer to help out sufferers with everything from doing the school run to preparing a meal. All volunteers will be vetted and CRB-checked.
Among those pledging their support to Sharma at the launch were Raj ‘The Hitman’ Hundal, the World Pool Masters Champion who said Sharma was “re-defining” the very meaning of a champion; and well-known British Asian media mogul Terry Mardi, who described canmates.com as “revolutionary”.
www.canmates.com is the latest way-point in a remarkable journey that began back in 2009 when the effervescent Sharma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had found the lump in her left breast whilst playing with her young daughter and she received a letter confirming cancer around Diwali that year.
“I cried for a second but then that was it”, Sharma later said in an interview.
I was going to fight my hardest, irrelevant of what stage the cancer was in.”
It was a fight that she shared with the rest of the world with video diaries and music videos that have racked up thousands of hits and inspired multitudes.
Her latest video is 'Diagnosed'.
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