Indrani Saha is just 6 years old. She is fighting an aggressive and ruthless form of blood cancer that seemed to have manifested suddenly. Her family has taken her to several hospitals, finally landing up at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, where she is fighting the deadly disease with aggressive rounds of chemotherapy.
Amalesh and Beauty Saha, Indrani’s parents call their daughter Iccha, which means desire. She was all they desired, and she fulfilled their dreams. She is adored by everyone in their family including her 2-year-old brother Arobindo and Uncle Arup who has been by her side every step of the way from when she complained of pain.
Iccha turned 6 in March, and this family is unable to shake the dreaded feeling that it might just be her last birthday. She was going to school in the village where she lived and enjoyed life like any other first grader. One day, just 2 months ago, she complained of severe stomach ache.
“My wife and I got extremely scared. This was not a child faking sickness to get out of school. It was not any normal sickness either. She could not get up. She was in that much pain.”- Amalesh
The alarmed parents rushed her to the local hospital where they did not get much help after a long wait. They then rushed her to Santipur General Hospital. By then, Iccha had a high fever and her pain had worsened. Understanding the brevity of the situation, the doctor overseeing her case explained that the hospital was not equipped to help her, and they should move her to Sadar District Hospital.
“There was the anxiety of not knowing what was wrong, coupled with the frustration of having to move from one hospital to the other. We were perplexed. We did not know how to comfort Iccha. She was writhing in so much pain.” - Amalesh
At Sadar Hospital in Krishnanagar, Arup and Amalesh rushed to get the affairs in order. Iccha was admitted immediately and went through a battery of tests as the doctors believed she had water accumulation in the abdomen. She was unable to eat for 2-3 days as she developed blisters in her mouth, and the pain had reached unbearable levels. After keeping her under observation for 2 days, she was yet again referred to another hospital.
“Finally, we landed at Phoolbagan Sishu Hospital where a doctor told us that our daughter had blood cancer. Our world crashed! She was fine just a few days ago. And now they tell us it is cancer?” - Amalesh
The family decided to have her discharged against the hospital’s advice, and brought Iccha to Bangalore where she has been undergoing treatment at Manipal for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
“It took 10-11 days of blood tests and medication. We spent nearly Rs. 1.7 Lakh, and we also had to rent a place near the hospital that cost us Rs. 15000/month. All we cared about is the fact that we finally know what is wrong, and the hope that the doctor gave us. It is treatable. She has a chance at beating this disease.” - Arup
Although Beauty Saha was advised to have Iccha treated in Kolkata, she is keen on getting the best treatment after all this delay in diagnosis and string of bad experiences the family has had with hospitals.
“My grandmother met with an accident, and by the time the hospital treated her she passed away. We do not want to take any chance with our daughter. She is just 6. She should not have suffered in the first place, and it should not have taken this long for her to get treated. We trust this hospital to take good care of her. We have experienced enough back home. We will lose her if we take her back there.” - Beauty
Iccha needs Intensive Chemotherapy for 2 months and Consolidation Chemotherapy for 2 months. Later she would need Re-induction for 2 months followed by maintenance therapy for 2 years. The entire treatment would cost the family Rs. 15 Lakhs. Amalesh is a farmer earning Rs. 4000/month, and Beauty is a housewife. Although they live in a joint family, everyone’s financial situation is weak. They poured in everything they had for the medical expenses so far. Now, they are left with nothing.
“What plight is this for such a young child? She has done nothing to deserve this. Help us save her life.”
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