I was not sure what I would even tell her. I had debated hell of a lot about this call. Would she be tired of answering endless such calls? Would she find it intrusive? But how could I not call? You know what made it all the more difficult? It was her birthday that day… I never miss her birthday; it is a day after my mom’s.
I picked up some courage and called her with a lump in my throat and a stomach in knots. There I was, delivering a condolence message, on her birthday, on the passing of her precious little boy, all of 3 years old, who fought valiantly against high grade glioma, a rare and aggressive brain tumour.
Being a parent is the only way you will know how much love and sacrifice you are capable of. It will stun you to discover how large hearted you can be. They say, along with the baby, parents are born as well. Despite being a parent, I cannot even imagine what they must have gone through during the course of the treatment. Awareness has become such a loosely used word - the scale of the misconception about paediatric cancer is appalling and scary. Sadly, paediatric cancer is still unspoken about at a public level in India and support groups are virtually nonexistent.
Above all, children battling this monster and their families need constant encouragement, support and hope. However, not everybody can provide emotional support to these families, simply because one cannot fathom what they go through, without actually having gone through it. But what we can all do is connect people in need with other parents who will be able to help. A small step in this regard is the presence of two closed groups for Parents of Indian kids with cancers: Pediatric Leukemia and Lymphoma India & Pediatric Brain Tumor India (I picked this up from my friend’s FB timeline)
Apparently, two of the largest children's cancer NGO's in India raise less than 3 crores per year. So the next time you feel philanthropic, please do consider donating to institutions / NGOs towards care and treatment for paediatric cancer. In cash, in kind, volunteer… Really, anything at all. I do not want to advocate any particular institution; a simple google search will help you decide!
A million other questions are teeming in my head. A shout out to my journalist friends here. Could you help with awareness? What after awareness? We all know awareness means visibility, and with visibility comes a greater hope of funding. But who is it who allocates funds? What are the various avenues of gathering funds? What about research facilities? Do we have any for paediatric cancer already? What is the status of these institutions? I read, that in some parts of the country, gender discrimination exists even in a condition as terrible as this. Are nurses equipped to deal with children? Do their courses support and recognize the fact that children need special care and attention? Or are there any trainers who can help upskill hospital staff?
If you have noticed, I have titled this post C is to Conquer and not C is for Cancer for a reason – Hope.
My earnest appeal to the few people who read my blog – should you come across a suitable opportunity or forum to share/ provide any form of support related to this, please do so without batting an eyelid. Your efforts will lead to may just lead to saving tender little lives someday.