Saharanpur’s Faizal was only 11 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a kind of blood cancer, near his neck.
Unaware of the symptoms and seriousness of the ailment, his parents, Jahid, a labourer, and Salme, a homemaker, moved from one doctor to another seeking treatment after their son suffered an accident while playing with his cousin during Ramadan last year. The child’s condition worsened despite the family having already spent ₹1 lakh.
“Test reports determined some blood clot near his neck, but there was no improvement even when we shifted to Jagadhri for medical care. We started his cancer treatment last year in Ambala and his chemotherapy is complete. Soon, my son will be back home healthy,” his mother said.
According to the Netherland-based Childhood Cancer International, the survival rate for the form of aggressive cancer varies from region to region, going as high as 80% survival in most high-income countries while dipping all the way down to 20% in low and middle-income countries.
The International Childhood Cancer Day, observed every year on February 15, aims at spreading awareness on cancers that affect the younger population to help Faizal and his ilk avoid the suffering that they had to endure.
And to mark the occasion, Rotary Cancer and General Hospital in Ambala Cantonment on Tuesday organised a program to spread awareness on the same and boost the morale of children who were already undergoing treatment.
Outside of PGIMER, Chandigarh, there is only one child cancer specialist on the GT Belt and in the Ambala region. Due to its proximity, patients from Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Saharanpur, Nalagarh, Patiala, Karnal and others seek treatment at the facility.
Dr Vaneet Anand, a paediatrician with super-specialisation in paediatric haematology and oncology at the hospital, said, “ALL is the most common type of cancer in children, other than lymphoma and solid tumours like in kidney and in bones. If timely diagnosed and managed, the survival rate can go all the way up to 90%.”
“There are 17 children undergoing treatment at the hospital, mostly from economically weaker sections. Faizal is undergoing treatment under Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Similarly, two-and-a-half-year-old Navjot from Dhanauri in Cantt and three-year-old Navjot from Kakru are also getting benefits from Rotary and other NGOs providing aid to the hospital.” he added.