“Shalini does not even know what is happening to her. She hopes her pain goes away, and she can go back to school again. None of us could have even imagined that a pain in the hand could be cancer.”
Everything was normal in 12-year-old Shalini’s life until she complained of intolerable pain in her left shoulder on a day. What they assumed to be a strain in the muscle, turned out to be a diagnosis of bone cancer. Shalini now needs aggressive chemotherapy and a limb-saving surgery to stay alive.
It all began two months ago when Shalini was fetching water from the local bore-well. A sharp shooting pain in her left shoulder made her drop the pot of water and she fell to the ground. She was immediately rushed to a local doctor who prescribed medicines for the pain, but it did not subside.
The doctor then suspecting a bigger issue, advised the family to take her to Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. Here, after an MRI scan and biopsy, she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma – a type of cancer that begins in the bone and then metastasizes to other parts of the body.
“She was completely normal. Shalini was studying in 8th standard. Until that day, we did not have an inkling that she had cancer. I mean, people who have cancer tend to have some symptom right? We are still shell shocked, unable to come to terms with what is happening to our child” says her maternal uncle, Tirupathi.
Shalini lives with her parents, Chinnasamy and Indira, as well as her elder brother Sivasankar in Badur, Vandavasi. All of them are daily-wage laborers earning Rs. 200/day, trying to bear the household expenses and put Shalini through school. They live in a rented house and hardly have any savings to pay for their daughter’s medical expenses.
“I am from Dharmapuri. I am also a daily-wage laborer. We don’t have many options. So whatever we have we sold it, borrowed from whoever we could find, and have poured it in to admit her into the hospital. Now, we have nowhere to go for the surgery and chemotherapy expenses. But, there’s no choice. We have to do something to save her. She is a child. Our child. My sister is distraught. My nephew and brother-in-law are back in the village working through the day to make as much as they can to save her. However, even if we save throughout the year, there is no way we can come up with this kind of money.”
Shalini needs this treatment to survive. This type of cancer is aggressive, so the treatment also needs to be aggressive. She cannot attend school for the next six months, and that is worrying this child. Her parents are more anxious about whether or not she will get the chance to live the rest of her life.
The cost estimated for Shalini’s treatment is Rs. 5.3 Lakhs including 8 cycles of chemotherapy and a limb-saving surgery.
You can save this 12-year-old’s life.