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Redefining paediatric cancer care

ISP Delhi Bureau 

Purnota Bahl founded Cuddles Foundation in 2011. It was not a planned decision but a step necessitated by a situation. It was a life changing event that helped Purnota rise up as a real life hero. 

Bahl was in a hospital ward when she noticed a baby girl who was struggling with cancer. She recollected her and daughter and associated the child’s pain with her own. She asked medical workers in the hospital if she could help the child. On multiple queries, she found that hospitals receive numerous dollars and contributions for treatment but none for food. And hence was formed Cuddles, one of the premier organisations in India working for paediatric cancer care. 

Today, Cuddles is one of the unique non-profit organisations that provides food and nutrition to underprivileged children fighting cancer. It has served over 35000 children in 13 cities in collaboration with 22 partner hospitals till now.

Purnota was born in 1980 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. She joined Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai from where she completed her Bachelor of Commerce, and later, she completed her MBA from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

Purnota began her journey as a social entrepreneur. She graduated from ISB and spent close to 11 years in corporate India, managing and leading brands for companies like Hindustan Times and Shaadi.com. A chance visit to Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai introduced her to the plight of children fighting cancer in India. Malnourished children have fewer chances of surviving cancer than a well-nourished child – largely because of their intolerance to chemotherapy.

Purnota knew she could do something about it. She quit her corporate career, learnt about nutrition, spoke to doctors, developed a blueprint for a non-profit and made fighting cancer with food and nutrition her mission. She convinced some like-minded individuals with complementary skill sets from her corporate life to join her cause. Soon many Paediatric Oncologists joined the cause and became champions for children’s nutritional needs. 

In 2016, Cuddles was recognised by the President of India with the National Award for Child Welfare. In 2018, with the help of volunteers, Cuddles developed its own app called the ‘FoodHeals App’ to support nutritionists in grading a child’s malnourishment status and providing appropriate intervention.

Purnota appeared on the Karamveer episode of Amitabh Bachhan starred Kaun Banega Crorepati series in 2019 and she appealed to countrymen to come forward to help malnourished cancer patients specially children.

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