In mid-June 2014, a tall hefty man stepped into St. Jude’s Child Care Centre (Mumbai), carrying his 9-year-old son. The boy, Shubham, had been suffering from undiagnosed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia for a year. The parents, Inder Singh Rajput and Geeta, had run from pillar to post in their hometown of Shajapur, Madhya Pradesh, seeking medical help for their son’s frequent attacks of fever. Doctors there prescribed ad hoc treatments for malaria, TB and other suspected ailments even as the untreated cancer continued its attack on the child’s legs, which were now no thicker than a walking stick.
It was Indore that they learnt that Shubham was suffering from cancer; acting on the doctor’s advice, they took the next train to Mumbai with nothing but the clothes they had on. Since there was no vacancy at the child care centre, they stayed on the footpath for a month, and were taken in on an emergency basis by Tata Memorial Hospital. Despite the poor prognosis, Inder and Geeta did not lose hope; they doggedly carried on with the treatment.
Shubham hardly spoke and didn’t want to use the wheelchair. He was given physiotherapy, while his parents received regular counselling. Seeing their acute economic distress, St. Jude diverted all excess donations to Shubham’s family. Other families at St. Jude, themselves poor and with ailing family members, chipped to buy fruits for the little boy. With intense treatment and care, Shubham slowly began to walk, first with support, and then, within six months of admission, like any other normal child of his age. Now on maintenance drugs, Shubham has gone back home, leaving behind memories of his infectious and disarming smile.
Ten-year-old Snehal came to Mumbai from Kolkata with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. For a month, he was in the ICU; he was in a great deal of pain and could only walk with his mother’s support. During the course of treatment, it was observed that he was uncontrollably hyper; he would bite his mother, scream, and throw things. His parents were at their wits’ end. At St. Jude’s Child Care Centre, a counsellor recommended regular counselling sessions and psychotherapy. Regular sessions began to show results and Snehal mellowed considerably.
His talent for drawing and craft work came to the fore after cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar visited St. Jude; Snehal created a beautiful replica of the cricket World Cup. Inspired by him, other children also followed suit and made a host of similar models. With treatment, Snehal now walks upright without support. Now on maintenance, Snehal and his parents left for Kolkata in April 2015. He now has a room to himself in his aunt’s house where he keeps himself busy with various creative pursuits. He is eagerly looking forward to going back to school.