Shreya (name changed) was born in 2009 with skin lesions all over her body. The hospital ran tests, and when she was 25 days old, it was diagnosed that she had an advanced form of skin cancer. Last month, Shreya turned three and started nursery school. She is completely cancer-free. Shreya’s case is a silver lining, a testament to the fact that the cure rate for children with cancer is very high.
The little girl went through intensive chemotherapy, which made her weak at times, and kept her away from the many things that a child enjoys so much—playgrounds, fairs, films, visits to friends’ houses.
She undertook all her treatment in Delhi, where she was born, whereas her parents belong to Bangalore. This was quite tough on her parents. “It was very difficult on us as we are from Bangalore but her treatment was being carried out in Delhi. It was very hard on our son, who was just three at the time. But we are very grateful today that our daughter is cancer-free,” says her mother. She adds, “We don’t want anyone to know of her affliction because after so much struggle—and at such a young age—we just want her to live a very normal life. The attitude towards this disease has not changed.” But no one today knows that Shreya is a cancer survivor. Her parents feel that society has not evolved enough to accept such things and treat her normally—so they have not let it out, lest the child’s life is complicated by that sort of attention.
Shreya’s medication was stopped in January 2011. Says Dr Nandini Chaudhary Hazarika, a senior consultant in paediatric care at Max Hospital, Delhi, who treated her, “It was a very complex case. Luckily for the child, it was detected at birth. The cancer was at an advanced stage, but the child responded quite well to the treatment. We are happy to see her cancer-free today.”