[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Mar 20: 10 am and the ‘Mystique Fashion Destination’ starts to welcome customers with its latest fashion products on sale. Going by the name of the boutique, one may well label it as another exclusive run-of-the-mill fashion store mushrooming in the state capital Itanagar. Step inside to a section and a heart-warming story unfolds.
There is this belief that everyone has a purpose in life – in whatever way or form it may be. This purpose has the power to touch lives of others and make a difference in unimaginable ways. While some remain without direction throughout their lives, some find their purpose after it hits them…at times like a bolt of lightning!
When 27-year-old Amung Tadu Lollen’s routine medical check-up at the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), Shillong revealed that she had Stage III stomach cancer, she had her world spinning. It was one of those moments, which one takes for granted that this only happens to others, not to me, not today, not now.
As shocking as the news was for Amung and her husband Molee Lollen, they accepted the news and the subsequent treatments and doctor’s advises that followed.
After months of depression, pain, chemotherapy and an operation later, Amung is now working towards creating more awareness on cancer and raising funds for underprivileged patients suffering from the dreaded disease. This inspiration, she says, came to her during one of her stays in the hospital for her chemotherapy and while interacting with other patients who were undergoing treatment for various forms of cancer.
“There was this gentleman -a farmer, who had throat cancer. He told me how difficult it was for him to arrange the Rs 40, 000 required each time he had to take his chemotherapy. I was fortunate enough that my family had enough for my treatment and other basic necessities. His story and the stories of all the others struck a chord with me and I decided that I would do something once I gain the strength to get back up on my feet, literally,” says Amung.
This resolve of hers gave birth to ‘AMG Accessories’, an initiative to raise funds for cancer patients.
Under AMG Accessories, she is currently selling earrings, flowers and dream catchers -all handmade by her. She uses local beads in her earrings to showcase the traditional aspects of Arunachal, with a touch of modern designs so that it can be worn every day and by everyone.
She began selling her items since early March this year and has collected about Rs 10, 000 from the sales in less than a month, and said that 100 percent of the profits will be given to patients undergoing cancer treatment in NEIGRIHMS. Amung is in touch with the doctor who treated her in NEIGRIHMS, Oncology Surgeon Dr Caleb Harris, who has assured his support in her venture. She first has plans of creating awareness among school children, for which, Dr Harris has agreed to come down to Itanagar when required.
On her choice for selecting NEIGRIHMS to donate, Amung says, “Many patients with advanced stages of cancer from Arunachal are referred for further treatment to NEIGRIHMS, and I have also formed a bond with the doctors, nurses and staff over there who will help me with genuine cases. Apart from donating funds from the sales of the products, I also intend on sharing some time with patients and assure them that they are not alone in their fight against cancer.”
She explained how her family, especially her husband was there for her during the tough time. Since Molee is also the lead vocalist of Yesterdrive, an indie/ alternative rock band based in Delhi, it was nice to learn that he balanced work and family well.
However, she does tell us that many she considered close had left her side. “They probably had their reasons, but a gentle reminder that my family and I were not alone in this battle against cancer would have given me more strength to keep fighting. I would advise those who know cancer patients to support them morally, if not in any other way, so that they don’t feel alone and depressed like I did,” she said.
Though Amung is now cancer-free, cancer sometimes make a comeback, which is why she recommends a healthy lifestyle and a healthy attitude to fight any such life-threatening disease.
Amung’s products under the label Amg Accessories are exclusively sold in the Mystique Fashion Destination, located on the Tadar Tang Marg that sells all kind of fashion accessories like clothes, shoes, etc. She has a small section in the shop that may well be called the heart of the boutique!
Incidentally, store owner Licha Pera had lost her mother to cancer last year, and this is her way of supporting Amung and showing solidarity with cancer patients and their families by offering space for sale of products by Amg Accessories.
While Amung’s hand-crafted earrings range from Rs 100 to Rs 350 and flowers from Rs 20 to Rs 50, the dream catchers range between Rs 250 to Rs 600.
For most, understanding cancer and its consequences on the patient and their family – physically, emotionally and financially – would be difficult, but the truth is the disease exists and that a little support for the cause can go a long way if everyone does their bit.
Unlike other sections of the Mystique Fashion Destination, Amg Accessories is yet to attract huge rush of customers. But with a novel and noble objective up its sleeve, it is sure to have its share of customers, who by the way, will not be customers but partners in the crusade against one of the deadliest diseases to inflict mankind.
[ Nellie N Manpoong ]