“After my husband left, life has been very difficult for my daughter and me. I worked as a dental assistant – but quit working shortly after he left due to the erratic working hours – going to work early in the morning and coming back late night. My daughter’s welfare was most important to me. Being a college graduate, I wanted to help her with her studies as I couldn’t afford to send her to tuition classes like other kids. But now, my daughter has cancer, and I have no money to save her.”-Dakshayini, mother of 12-year-old Chaitra.
A small fever was the beginning of this little girl’s sufferingA few weeks back, Chaitra had come back feeling sick from school – the usual smile on her face was missing and she was more worn out than usual. She did not speak to her mother either and went straight to bed. In a few hours, she started shivering with fever. But Dakshayini dismissed it as normal fever and gave her a tablet. She believed her child would get alright the next morning, but sadly she didn’t.
“She was really weak; she couldn’t eat anything properly. But again, I did not suspect it to be something very bad. I gave her another tablet and put her to sleep. But by 5 pm again, her fever spiked. This time, I thought I really need to take her to the doctor, but Chaitra dismissed it saying that she was okay and that she would go to school the next day – and she did.”-Dakshayini.
Chaitra soon developed severe back pain and redness in her eye, which gave way to her deadly diagnosisDespite Dakshayini’s disapproval of her health, Chaitra went to school for the next three days. But she soon developed severe back pain, which her mother attributed to tiredness from going to school before her fever subsided completely. But when she woke up with redness in her left eye on the 4th day morning, her mother knew that she had to rush her to the hospital.
Chaitra, before cancer stole her childhood away
“They did a couple of tests and scans at the hospital. I was very worried because her bloodshot eyes really scared me – she had never gotten any eye infection or anything before. When the doctors told me that she had cancer, I was immediately filled with fear because I know what such a deadly disease can do to people. Chaitra is too young to face such a terrible fate”-Dakshayi, with tears in her eyes.
Dakshayini was able to fund 1 cycle of chemo with the help of her family, but she cannot afford Chaitra’s further treatmentAfter her husband left, Dakshayini has been heavily dependant on her family for survival. When she took the decision to quit her job in order to pay more attention to her daughter’s academics, her family was very supportive. But this medical emergency that has shook Dakshayini to the core, is too much of a financial burden for her aging parents.
“My parents were happy to help us when Chaitra’s father left us 4 years ago. They gave us food and a roof over our heads. But now that Chaitra has cancer, they are helpless. The treatment charges are too much for them to bear. I don’t know how I will be able to help my daughter get treatment all by myself.”-Dakshayini.
Chaitra is too weak to get up from the hospital bed now, but she still longs to go homeCancer has affected Chaitra’s mind more than her body. Even when her body is giving up from all the pain and frequent vomiting, she begs her mother or grandparents to take her home. She does not believe them when she says that she just has a small fever.
“She is a smart child, a class topper; she does not believe a thing we say about her illness. Her blood-red eye scares her when she looks in the mirror. She knows that something is wrong and hates the hospital environment. But there is nothing we can do – she needs medication to live now. My poor child has not even asked once about her father in the midst of all this suffering. She tells me – ‘I am there for you as you are there for me’. That is my strength.”-Dakshayini tears up.
This helpless mother has started tailoring, but it is not even close to being enough to save her child
“Sometimes I am forced to leave my parents at the hospital with Chaitra so that I can go home and stitch blouses. I only get Rs 50 for a blouse, but even an extra paisa is of great help in these desperate times. I hope I can find a way to save her before it gets too late. Chaitra is the reason I have survived for this long. If she dies, I will have nothing left.”-Dakshayini.