New Delhi, February 4: I look after children with cancer. The diagnosis of cancer can be frightening for any family. Even more so, when a small child is affected and in our country, the bigger problem is not just the diagnosis of cancer but where does one go to get the right treatment for it then how does one afford the expensive treatment currently available for this disease.
What I would like to share with listeners today is that childhood cancer is extremely curable. Today there’s a lot of good treatment available for the disease. Some treatment are so good that successful childhood cancer treatment today is believed as a modern, medical treatment.
This kind of successful cancer treatment is possible now and treatment of children with cancer has become the foundation of such success.
Secondly, a lot of help is available for families struggling with cancer specially childhood cancer. Anywhere in the world, it is not possible for a family to take the full treatment itself whether it is financially or emotionally. So today there are many agencies and NGOs that are helping families struggling financially in India fight childhood cancer so that every child get the best available cure that may be possible.
The Story of Kaju
Today I would like to share the example of this young boy Kaju. He has come from remote district in Bihar. He was a street side vendor and used to sell boiled eggs for 1 rupee.
He was the sole breadwinner in the family. He could realise very early on that something was not right it when he felt a swelling in his right eye. But because of the lack of access to healthcare services and financial constraints ok, he could not seek help immediately.
Over the next few months his disease increased so much that people refused he went to look at him. Nobody would even come forward to do the dressing because there was a large fungating swelling growing in his right eye.
Somebody guided him to an eye hospital in Delhi where he was quickly diagnosed for having a rare form of cancer. Then they referred him to our centre. Looking at him and looking at all the financial difficulties we knew that this would be a huge challenge for us.
But we were so impressed by the courage and motivation of this child who had travelled all by himself from a remote district in Bihar that we decided that we would do whatever possible to help this child. So we started with the treatment, I approached a number of agencies and we got some government funding for him. His treatment was very complex and challenging but over the next few months we completed his treatment successfully.
He is now off his treatment for the past 18 months and is completely free from the disease.
Unfortunately, he had to lose his eye but now we are planning to do an operation so that he can have in artificial eye because he is a young man and he would like to look his best.
He is back at his job as the main breadwinner of his family and he tells me now that as he has become much more confident and smarter so now he makes much more money than he used to be and he says that to me with a smile.
So really it is the courage of these young boys and girls which inspires us to do what we can do you and I hope that this story will inspire lots of families who will get a chance to listen to his story.
(Dr. Amita Mahajan, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Hematology and Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi)