Rehaan, 5, asks his father two questions every day and the first one used to surprise his father - “Can I go to school tomorrow?” Very fond of books, Rehaan has not gone to school since August, when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Rehaan's father Mahboob Basha is a Mathematics school teacher in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. His mother Sharmila also used to be a teacher and Rehaan had a little brother Arhan, only this January. The problem started innocuously – with Rehaan suffering from constipation in August. When he stopped eating his parents decided to take him to the hospital. Rehaan with his father
The last thing his parents expected was this serious a diagnosis. Rehaan has Burkitts Lymphoma - cancer of the lymphatic system. It is rare outside Africa and is a fast growing-cancer that needs immediate treatment through chemotherapy.
From the diagnosis till now, the family has spent Rs 5 lakhs on Rehaan's treatment. Rehaan's father has a modest salary of Rs 10,000 per month. He encashed all his savings and fixed deposits but could raise only Rs 3 lakhs. “When what I had was not enough, I asked my friends and family to help. I feel terrible that Sharmila's father, at his age, had to sell off his ancestral property. Even that raised only Rs 2 lakhs,” he says. The family still needs Rs 3.5 lakhs to complete the rest of Rehaan's treatment. Rehaan before cancer and at school
An uphill journey
Because Arhaan is too young, only Rehaan and his father are in Chennai for treatment. Rehaan is facing a gruelling treatment away from home with only his father. “Even though they are not here, his mother calls every two hours to talk to him. And Rehan keeps himself busy – he has started to paint very seriously,” says his father.
His father explains his love of books, “Rehaan loves reading. Even though we are not very well-off, studying is important in our family and Rehaan misses his books and playing with his brother.”
To his father, Rehaan is the same happy, thoughtful child with a terrible illness hanging over him. Rehaan takes his treatment quietly, with a quick mind that finds opportunities to get his father to buy him small treats.
The swelling in his face is the only physical difference that he can discern. And the fact that every morning Rehaan asks him his two questions religiously, like a ritual. "When will we go home?"
To both the questions, his father has the same answer - "As soon as you get better."
Rehaan with his brother Arhaan
Supporting document:The specifics of his case have been verified by a medical team at the concerned hospital. For any clarification in the treatment or associated costs, contact the champion or the medical team.
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