October last year, Afnan Khan started looking very pale and with a bloated stomach. He hadn’t eaten anything for two days and his mother Nafeed Jan couldn’t understand what was happening to her son. She and her husband Amjad Khan took him to the local hospital that night and were asked to come back in the morning. Upon taking him back to the hospital the next morning, the doctors suspected cancer and advised them to go to a bigger hospital with better facilities. Amjad took Afnan to JIPMER in Puducherry, where their worst fears were confirmed. Afnan had cancer and would need a bone marrow transplant urgently to survive.
Afnan thinks cancer is just a bad fever, he doesn’t understand the dire nature of his illness
“He asked me what cancer meant. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, how could I? No parent should ever have to explain such a thing to their child.”
At the hospital Afnan overheard the doctors say ‘cancer’ to his parents and his curiosity got to him. Amjad tried explaining to his already ailing son, what his ailment was. But he didn’t have the heart to explain how grave his illness is and ended up telling him that cancer was just like any other fever, only a little more serious and that he needs to stay in the hospital to get well again. Innocent little Afnan believed it and thinks he suffers from a bad fever. He thinks in a few days he’s going to be alright and be able to go back to school.
Little Afnan can’t stop thinking about going back to school
“He kept asking me why he’s not allowed to go to school anymore. I kept telling him that’s because he has a bad fever. Then one day, he gave up and stopped asking me. He doesn’t talk about school anymore, but I know he misses it.”
Afnan was a bubbly active kid, who loved going to school. Upon his diagnosis, his parents withdrew him from the school so that his treatment can continue. For little Afnan, this was an unwelcome change. He misses school and can’t wait to go back. His elder sister Sabha and younger brother Ayian still go to school and all Afnan can do is wait for the day he can join them again so that he gets to play with his friends.
Amjad’s financial condition is the only hindrance in the way of Afnan’s treatment
Afnan is too young to understand the gravity of his illness and the outcome of not receiving treatment on time. For him, all that matters is school and play. His parents are fighting tooth and nail for his life and trying to shelter him from its bitter reality. They even found out through tests that Amjad can be the donor for the bone marrow transplant. But the biggest roadblock here, is their financial condition.
How you can help
Amjad works as a seasonal labourer for whom work comes by only occasionally. When it does, he makes about Rs 300 a day, but most days are dry. For a man who can barely provide two square meals a day to his family, affording treatment for cancer is a herculean task.
All Amjad and Nafeed want, is for Afnan to get well again. They can’t wait for him to come back home and start living his life like any other normal 9-year-old. This dream can become a reality only with your help. Your contribution can gift Afnan a second chance at life.