Meet the man who quit his job as an investment banker to help cancer patients in their journey
Just about two years ago, 29-year-old Kishan Shah could be found seated at his desk, crunching numbers with eyes glued to the desktop screen amid stacks of papers.
An investment banker, Kishan was just like any other youth, highly ambitious and career-driven, and had worked at firms like JP Morgan and GIC. However, despite a lucrative pay and a slew of rewarding opportunities, he quit his job to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients by starting up Love Heals Cancer.
“I saw a friend of mine battling colorectal cancer up close. Right from putting up with joint pains and sleepless nights to sustaining high dosage medicines and multiple chemotherapy sessions, he went through it all. But, at the end of it all, he lost his life to the disease,” Kishan Shah, Founder, Love Heals Cancer, tells SocialStory.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), more than 25 lakh people in India are suffering from one type of cancer or the other, and an average of 10 lakh individuals are diagnosed with the illness every year.
Kishan says, “I wanted to help these people in their journey of fighting cancer. So, I decided to resign and dedicate my life to it.”
Along with his college batchmate Dimple Parmar, he started Love Heals Cancer, a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation to assist cancer patients, caregivers, and their families in their healing process through counselling and community support.
He also took time out to understand the nitty-gritty surrounding cancer care, and finished a slew of training programmes on subjects like mind-body-medicine, healing circles, therapies and retreats, mindful caregiving, oncology, and end of life conversation.
Post his training, he started motivating hundreds of people affected with cancer to fight the illness. Through his healing circles and workshops, Kishan initiated a series of conversations about the disease and spread awareness among patients. The 29-year-old was also instrumental in starting India’s first integrative oncology centre called ZenOnco.io in 2019.
The turning point
Kishan was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. But, when he was just about a month old, he had to move to Indonesia owing to his father’s job. So, he completed his schooling and higher secondary education from the southeast Asian country. When Kishan returned to India in 2002, he decided to pursue a degree in Commerce at Jai Narain Vyas University. His fervour for finance led him to persist along the same path and finish multiple professional courses.
“I had a fervour for finance since my childhood. I loved solving problems with a number-driven approach. My fascination with creating financial plans, managing expenses, and analysing portfolios never really ended. So, I continued my education with a Master of Commerce and also topped it with courses – Chartered Accountancy, Financial Risk Management, and Chartered Financial Analyst Programme,” Kishan recalls.
Later, Kishan did his Masters in Business Administration from IIM Calcutta. That was when he saw the agony of his friend Nitesh Prajapat, who was suffering from cancer. Nitesh and his wife Dimple had researched various ways to survive the disease and studied about healing methods like allopathic medications, holistic treatments, dietary requirements, pranic healings, and naturopathy, he passed away. This encounter left an indelible impact on Kishan.
“A lot of people who get affected by cancer find it difficult to identify the right kind of treatment. They tend to get lost in a host of treatments and therapies available within the medical fraternity. Hence, Dimple and I established Love Heals Cancer intending to provide support, information, and services to help individuals in their journey against cancer,” Kishan says.
Though Kishan laid the foundation for the NGO, initially, he contributed to its functioning on a part-time basis, since he wanted to pursue a career in investment banking at JP Morgan, followed by the Singaporean company GIC. However, very soon, he took the bold move of giving up his dream career and following his inner calling to enter the world of social change.
“Many of my relatives and friends were not in favour of my decision. There was quite a bit of opposition initially. It took some time for them to understand why I was stepping down from a well-settled job to dive into serving people affected with cancer. It was a tough phase for me but I sailed through it,” Kishan says.
Today, through Love Heals Cancer, Kishan helps cancer patients and their families gain access to an entire database of information consisting of healing options and integrative therapies. Kishan also brings people together to form support groups for cancer patients.
Besides this, he is also working towards scaling up the initiatives and reaching out to more people within as part of Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io.
“I am planning to continue doing what I am doing for the rest of my life. Earlier, I used to work towards making people’s balance sheets better, but now, I am working towards making their lives better. The satisfaction I derive from the latter is far greater for sure,” Kishan concludes.
(Edited by Suman Singh)