“We are neck deep in loan, and even that is not enough to save him. There’s nobody left to help us out of this. Everyone will take care of their own. Even our children have to prioritize their children, we understand that. I just don’t know what to do.”
57-year old Shabeer Ali has been living in pain for months, only to discover that he has a rare type of blood cancer. This man comes from a weak economic background and is struggling to fund the six-cycles of chemotherapy that could give him a decade longer to live.
What happened to Shabeer?
My name is Noorjahan. My husband and I come from Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh. We live in a rented house with our two sons, their wives, and children.
My husband used to work as a private electrician, until a year ago. He began to complain of severe pain in his stomach. Around July, he began to vomit anything that he ate and stopped eating altogether. In August we went to the doctor as it had become worse. They conducted a lot of tests and said that the CT scan showed a stricture (narrowing) in the small intestine.
How was he treated?
They initially tried treating him with medication. The doctors believed it would cure him. My husband was admitted for a few days. He was hooked up to so many lines. It was so painful to see him like that. We went back home. Over the months, he was not cured, it just got worse. Finally, when we went back to the doctor, they said he needs to be operated.
In November 2016, he had a small surgery (small intestinal resection) and the piece was sent for test. They came back and said he has cancer (Non Hodgkin Lymphoma). We are not well educated. We do not understand much of what is happening around us or even to us. The doctor sat with us and patiently explained. It hit us very hard. Shabeer’s body is producing an abnormal number of white blood cells (lymphocytes), and we could not digest the fact that the things are meant to fight diseases, have turned into one fighting him from within.
What is the current treatment plan?
There’s only one way out. He cannot have a surgery like others to survive this. He needs six cycles of chemotherapy to kill these things that are killing him. We know our chances, but would you not do everything you can to save yourself or your loved one if it gave you a chance to live for 10 years more, as opposed to uncertainty?
How can we help?
Shabeer stopped going to work a year ago when this illness took over his life. Our savings have been exhausted. I am a sugar patient, also met with an accident that has weakened me from going to work. Our sons do contribute, but they are daily wage laborers. Sometimes they get Rs. 300/day or Rs. 200/day. Sometimes they do not even get that. We have three grandchildren. What we have is not enough for our livelihood, leave alone hospital bills.
We have taken loans from everyone we know. Now we are in debt, with nobody else to borrow from. Nobody else is willing to help us. Each cycle of chemotherapy costs Rs. 45,000. If he does not get one on time, he will begin to lose time with us.
I am not ready to lose my husband. Please help me save him.