Uzair is seven months into his treatment for B-ALL (B-CELL Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia) at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. For such young children to undergo chemotherapy is never easy. Chemotherapy can cause side effects such as low blood cell counts, nausea, diarrhoea, or hair loss during treatment. Even the most active kids are likely to find themselves exhausted and perhaps even a little “foggy-headed” during treatment — and possibly for a while afterwards.
In such a scenario, it is essential that the parents make peace with the situation so they can comfort the child both emotionally and physically. Uzair is lucky to have a father who has held both him and his mother in good stead. “Uzair’s mother, Shaheen went through a very difficult time in accepting and coping with her only son’s diagnosis. But Uzair’s father showed great patience and played the role of a mediator so that Shaheen could understand the instructions conveyed by the Doctors. He was the reason Shaheen made peace with the diagnosis so she could take care of his needs,” says Manpreet, our Nutritionist at AIIMS.
Sometimes, the unknown scares us so much that it freezes us. As a mother of 2-year-old with cancer, this can put immense pressure on her. “It is important that the family recovers from this shock quickly so they can invest their energies in the treatment. I am glad that Uzair’s father played this role well because he understood that childhood cancer is curable.” Shaheen now feels much more confident and motivated about how Uzair’s health is improving. She says, “I needed support initially, and I got that from my husband and Manpreet. Manpreet is extremely affectionate, and that made all the difference. He used to hate drinking milk, but with time he has learnt to enjoy it.”
Manpreet’s only advice to the parents is that they should not act like victims because that saps them of the much-needed motivation and energy to deal with their child’s treatment. It is not easy, but if the spirit is not strong everything else crumbles. Uzair is keeping his spirits up through his newfound love for milk and video calling his sisters back home. Once his treatment is over, he looks forward to these three things the most: eating Salan, meeting his sisters and joining school. All of this was made possible because you have supported Uzair’s family through such tough times.