"There was this painful lump on my child’s neck that kept growing bigger each day. Quickly, within a month it became so huge that he couldn’t open his mouth or even turn his head. We took him to many hospitals and no one knew the cure. Only after coming here they gave him medicines and drained the swelling. We were relieved, but then, the doctors told us the shocking news - our son has cancer. I didn’t know what it is, I only knew that it kills people… and now it is killing my son too "– Chitra, Mother
11-year-old Balaji has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer in his lymph nodes that limits his body’s ability to fight infection. Because of this condition the lymph nodes in his neck, armpits and groin swell, leaving him in unbearable pain and discomfort.
By 7, he became so weak that they stopped sending him to school
"Bala was weak from the day he was born. By the age of 7, he became so fragile that we stopped sending him to school. We had to frequently take him to the hospital because he was so sick. He always had a fever or cold. Back then I didn’t know it is cancer that was slowly eating my child," - Chitra
Due to continuous intake of medicines and pills, little Balaji’s liver is now scarred. While the cancer is already giving him pain the problem with the liver is an added agony. There were many partially dissolved tablets found in his stomach which were also considered as a reason for it. While his cancer was spreading fast he started getting chemotherapy.
He doesn't know he has cancer
"We haven’t yet told him that he has cancer…he will get really upset and inconsolable. When he had that lump he kept asking me if he’s going to die. He cried himself to sleep. He will lose all his hope if he knew this…I want him to have hope and strength to fight this."
Since the chemo isn't enough to save him, Balaji’s only option now is a bone marrow transplant. Through this procedure, they use healthy blood stem cells from his own body to replace the diseased or damaged bone marrow. The transplant costs 6 lakhs and the parents who both are flower vendors are in a situation where they cannot afford such a huge sum.
"For the past 11 years we had fought each day to keep him alive. I don't want to give up now, I can't! But where will I go for the money? For someone who depends on the next day’s meal by selling flowers…how can I afford lakhs to save him?"
Chitra and her husband work in a flower shop and make a modest wage of Rs.200 each day. Since she is here in the hospital looking after Balaji, it is her husband who is working to manage the expenses. Even feeding their family of five looks like a challenging task now, affording a transplant is beyond their means. Only you can help this little boy and his struggling family.