Baby Arfana is barely three and is already accustomed to suffering. In an age when she should be keeping her entire house on tip-toes with her innocent giggles and mischievous plans, Arfana is writhing in pain as doctors insert needles in her lower back. 3-year-old Arfana has been diagnosed with blood cancer.
My little girl was walking in painThe little baby’s ordeal began in the summer of 2017, when her entire body began to develop boils. Although the family immediately rushed the baby to the local doctor, they weren't thinking much about it. They thought it might be a result of Arfana's body reacting to the hot weather. Their little concern was further truncated when the doctors confirmed their diagnosis. However, the tragedy re-emerged when Arfana began to limp. Slowly but gradually, she was finding it difficult to walk without the support of something solid.
“We thought that our daughter must have fallen down somewhere. Arfana is very lively. She is always playing with someone. We thought the neighborhood kids must have been fighting and she might have fallen down. But when her limping continued for days, we became really worried. Even then, my first thought was, so what if Arfana limps throughout her life?
When the doctors back home couldn’t confirm anything, the family brought Arfana to Chennai. There they found out that Arfana’s limp wasn’t a diagnosis, but only a symptom of something life-threatening.
“I broke down in tears as soon as the doctor told me that Arfana has blood cancer. My wife was also with me. I remember her trying to console me in her shaking voice. But I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop knowing how much pain my little baby must be in. Me and my wife were so scared for our baby”, recounted Arfana’s father.
I wish I had the money to save my daughterArfana’s parent, Waheeda (29) and Syed Sadik Bhasha (34) are residents of Villupurum, Tamil Nadu. Sadik is a farmer and his income depends a lot on the monsoon. If it rains, they are good to go for a month, if it doesn’t they can’t even make the basic wages.
Arfana's father is the sole breadwinner of the family and has to support his wife, two kids and both the parent. Arfana's elder brother is five-year-old and is in school. He is currently in Villupurum.“My daughter is the apple of my eyes. She is my entire life. The day she was born, I knew I had to do everything in my power to protect her. I am a farmer and I don’t have much money, but I still made sure my daughter had everything she wanted. I would sometimes bypass the demands of my son for my little princess. It breaks this father’s heart to know that he can’t take away his tiny baby’s pain only because he is poor.”
“He misses us. He misses Arfana a lot more. He used to tease and fight with Arfana all the time. Now, since she is not home, he cries over phone asking about when are coming we back. He is only a child. He can’t understand what’s going on”, said Sadik.
Why they need our helpIn a bid to completely cure Arfana, the doctors have prescribed her chemotherapy for next two and a half years. Her chemotherapy sessions have already started and she has been in ICU from last 10 days. The baby still limps, and complains of severe stomach pain. Even though she opens her eyes and talks like a normal baby, she is constantly tired -- either from the excruciating pain being inflicted upon her tiny body or due to administering of medications.
Despite it all, however, the family has something to look forward to. The doctors have said the the kind of leukemia that Arfana has is highly curable. As it stands, the only thing standing between her journey to total health is lack of money.
The estimated cost of the treatment is 6-8 lakhs and there is a high chance of complete recovery once the procedure has been carried out. As there is no constant source of income, the family is finding it difficult to arrange the funds required for Arfana’s survival.
"I just want to save my daughter. I would give everything up in a heartbeat if it can save her life. But I don’t have anything to give up anymore. So far, we have spent close to Rs 2 lakhs on her treatment. The doctors tell me that we need to arrange more 8-10 lakhs. I am just a poor farmer. I have already exhausted whatever little funds I have had. I don’t know how will I manage to keep my baby alive without the funds."
How you can help
Your contribution can help 3-year-old Arfana live. You can help a father save his daughter and give her a healthy future."She cries and cries every time she is given medicine through needle. We are not allowed inside the ICU. I wish I could stay with her and hold her hands while she is going through so much pain. I wish I could at least be a good father to her once. I am already failing her by struggling to arrange the funds required for her survival."