“One after the other, all my loved ones have fallen ill. Now, my daughter is so weak because of blood cancer. I can't sleep at night just praying she doesn't get any harmful infections. Only a mother can understand how worried I am.” – Sharmistha, Eliza’s mother
Sharmistha and Eliza in the hospital
After dealing with her son’s epilepsy and her husband’s tumor, Sharmistha is now emotionally tormented watching her youngest child suffer the dreaded cancer. Far away from home, she hopes to save her 10-year-old daughter’s life through chemotherapy, but her family’s financial condition is not helping her daughter fight for her life.
Eliza is critical due to a severe form of blood cancerWhen Eliza had chronic, repeated fever Sharmistha knew something terrible was happening. Going to the hospital closest to their village in West Bengal simply did not help. Consulting with other villagers, she decided to take Eliza to CMC, Vellore.
Eliza's hair loss after initial cycles of chemo
Her heart sank when Eliza was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a form of cancer that could spread rapidly if untreated. To cure her of this fatal disease, Eliza needed to undergo chemotherapy as soon as possible and Sharmistha made sure she did just that.
“We begged and borrowed money to get her treatment started. The costs are sky-high and I find it hard to even feed her the fruits and milk that supports her treatment. In this unknown city, I was completely shattered when we first found out about her cancer. But, the doctors said that the disease is curable if she continued treatment, so what more could I ask for as a mother.” – Sharmistha
Eliza needs 3 additional months of chemotherapy followed by a new protocol of treatments. Sharmistha and her husband, Lakshminarayan, have exhausted all their resources and are running out of time to help their 10-year-old daughter.
Eliza’s very weak and even a cold can become deadly
“After chemotherapy, she’s extremely weak. She keeps vomiting for 2 days, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the number of times she’s caught an infection. Sometimes her tongue has an infection, or she has a viral fever, or a throat infection. Just until yesterday, she had a mouth infection and she wasn’t even able to speak. It hurts to watch her go through this and I’ve lost my sleep. It’s not easy to express how a mother feels in such situations. She’s suffering from cancer anyway, and now these scary side-effects.” – SharmisthaWords cannot describe how emotionally tormented and tested Sharmistha is.
Eliza - smiling through the pain
This is not the first time Sharmistha has been in a mental turmoilSharmistha and Lakshminarayan have a 15-year-old son, Akash, too. Years before Eliza was born, Akash suffered from epilepsy. This really took a toll on Sharmistha. It’s hard for any mother to watch her baby suffer from epileptic fits.
Sharmistha, Elizah, Akash and Lakshminarayan
“He needed an operation and just when he was 3-years-old, we would roam to several hospitals to get him checked. We went to Pondicherry for his treatment too. We must have spent around Rs. 60,000 and more. It was really hard for us to afford that and had to borrow money back then too.” – SharmisthaNot long ago, Sharmistha’s husband, Lakshminarayan developed a dangerous tumor in his throat too. For a person who eats nothing but healthy food, this was shocking and a time of despair for this strong woman. Luckily, his life was saved and the tumor was removed in an expensive procedure.
Eliza finds comfort in this confusing time singing Rabindra SangeetEliza was in class 4 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She is at the age when she understands what is happening to her. In her confusion, she turns to Tagore's beautiful compositions. She is passionate about singing and listens to Rabindra Sangeet whole-heartedly. She also turns to school work and studies by herself despite how life has changed.
Sharmistha and Lakshminarayan are in dire need of helpLaksminarayan, a 45-year-old clerk at a school in West Bengal, earns just about Rs 9,000 every month. Sharmistha used to tutor small kids from schools but this has stopped since Eliza fell sick. With no savings, Lakshminarayan and his wife are now finding it very hard to provide for the life-saving chemotherapy Eliza needs.
“My husband’s (Lakshminarayan) father also passed away due to cancer. During those hard times, we sold whatever land we had to save him. Recently, his mother also had a heart attack and she needs medicines every month. Everyone in my family has fallen ill. I haven’t done any bad deeds in my life so I don’t know what I’m suffering so much for.” – Sharmistha
The total cost of chemotherapy and additional treatments is estimated to be around Rs 7 lakhs. Eliza’s parents, simply, cannot afford this. Currently, Sharmistha and Eliza are in Vellore, while Lakshminarayan is working hard in West Bengal to earn money.
“For Eliza, we have spent over Rs 4 lakhs, out of which we’ve borrowed around Rs 3 lakhs. Now, people are calling us to ask for money and they say horrible things when we tell them that we don’t have anything. I’ve never been so helpless in my life.” – Sharmistha, while weeping.
How you can help10-year-old Eliza’s only hope of beating the life-threatening blood cancer is to get additional chemotherapy. Her parents, after being through an emotional rollercoaster for years, have absolutely nothing left to save her. Now, they need our help to save Eliza.
Your support will save 10-year-old Eliza.