“I still remember that night. I woke up to check on Aarathana because she wasn't feeling well, but she looked like a different person! Her face, hands and legs were all swollen up. I panicked! She had a fever…her body was burning. Maybe if we took her to a good hospital and found out earlier this disease would not have spread to the rest of her body. I thought it was just an allergy…but her face was so swollen that she couldn’t open her eyes for days.” – Ananthi, mother
Aarathana (6) was taken to six different clinics and hospitals before the cancer was diagnosed. She has ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), a type of blood cancer that affects the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells. Due to this, her lymph nodes swell and she is prone to frequent infections and bruising. Only continuous cycles of chemotherapy and medicines can save her now.
I realised I was making a terrible mistake
We didn’t have enough money to take her to a big hospital, so for 8 months we took her to smaller ones. When the swelling reduced, her stomach started bloating. My child’s liver and kidneys got infected. That’s when I realized I am making a terrible mistake. I borrowed money from everyone I knew and took her to the city for treatment. Now, she's become so weak. She doesnt smile or even cry, just flinches during injections. She rarely talks and when she does the only thing she asks is 'Appa, when are we going home?' – Rajavel, father
Aarathana is right now undergoing chemotherapy and blood transfusions once in two days to reduce the cancer cells. Her infections in the blood that has spread to other organs have been reduced and she is responding well to treatments. But she needs 6 months of intensive chemo and 3 years of maintenance therapy to come out cancer-free and the cost is something her parents cannot afford.
In 4 days we spent 3 lakhs on her treatment - we don't have anything left
“She needs blood transfusions once in two days and it costs Rs. 10,000. Other than this she needs medicines and IV fluids. In four days I had to spend 3 lakh rupees. I work in a shop that irons clothes and my income is not enough to meet these increasing medical needs. I already made her suffer by delaying treatment, I can’t do it again…I don’t want to risk her life. But where will I go for this huge sum?" – Rajavel
Rajavel needs to pay 10 lakh rupees for the whole treatment. Being a daily wager, it is impossible for him to afford it. Now, he even has to rent a house nearby hospital so that he can bring his daughter to chemo cycles once in fifteen days. Because of this, he will have to leave his job and find a new one in the city to make ends meet.