Tales of grit in fight against cancer
An eight-year-old found his love in sports after he got an opportunity from the hospital where he was treated for blood cancer. A 12-year-old girl who had her left leg amputated danced and enthralled the audience.
Cancer survivors, many of them children, came together on Saturday at a programme that celebrated their grit to defeat the disease and lead a normal life. The survivors shared their stories of keeping up hope, which, coupled with the right medication, helped them overcome the disease.
The 12-year-old girl from Purulia had her left leg amputated in 2017 because cancer had penetrated into the bones. “She fell down at home one day and complained of pain. Initially we thought there was a fracture. But later it was discovered that she had cancer,” said her mother.
The girl had to undergo five surgeries. During the fourth surgery her left leg was severed. The last of the surgeries removed the last remnants of the disease, said the mother. But nothing could dampen the spirit of Priti, who aspires to be a schoolteacher.
At home she dances to the tune of her favourite songs after playing them on YouTube. “She would first watch the steps on a mobile phone and then repeat them in front of a mirror,” the father said.
“I never went to any dance class. I learnt everything from YouTube,” the girl said.
On Saturday, she matched steps to the tune of Madhuban mein Radhika from the movie Lagaan. The audience went into ruptures after the performance.
Seated in the row behind her was the eight-year-old boy, a gold medallist in table tennis at the World Children’s Winners Games, an international sports competition for cancer survivors. The boy was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was only four. After undergoing treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, he was declared “cancer-free” in 2018, said his mother.
“In February last year, the hospital called, telling us that they wanted him to take part in an international competition. They had liked his activities at the hospital when he was admitted there and felt he would be a good competitor,” she said.
The mother-son duo travelled to Moscow last year. “I came first in table tennis, fourth in chess and rifle-shooting and sixth in swimming,” said the boy, beaming.
The child dreams of representing “India at the Olympics” one day.
Also in the audience was a 50-year-old woman who overcame breast cancer. The woman, who runs an NGO, said she was not scared when doctors told her she had cancer. “I remember my nephew’s marriage was scheduled around the time I was undergoing treatment. On my way to hospital for radiation one day, my primary concern was which wig to wear at the reception,” she recounted.
Her self-discovery of cancer is a thing that all women should know, she said. “I attended a self-check workshop in 2017 and then went back home. I felt there was a lump and consulted doctors. Eventually, the cancer was found but my doctors told me if every one was so careful and if cancer was detected so early, most people would get cured,” she said.
The survivors were felicitated by the Rotary International District 3291 at Rotary Sadan.
A member of the “district” said Rotarians were working to set up a rehabilitation centre for cancer patients in Calcutta, where the families of patients can come for guidance, counselling, consultation and therapy.
Partha Sarkar, the chairman of the paediatric cancer prevention committee of the “district”, said many families did not know where to go for treatment once their loved ones were diagnosed with cancer. “We will provide them with all necessary help so that they don’t fall prey to touts,” he said.