Meet Megha, our little star from Kolkata. Megha’s arm or what we call mid-upper arm circumference was only 10cm when she was carried to us last August. She was diagnosed with Severe Acute Malnourishment. Struggling with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, cancer had bloated her stomach, paralysed her legs, and broken her jaw. Yet, she was hungry to fight it! To live, to say goodbye to cancer. In her unrelenting words, “to walk, run and play”.
We got down to work.
First, convincing her dad to find a job because treatment was going to take some time and not having an earning member would put the family under great distress. Eventually forcing them to drop out of treatment midway. Second, we counseled her mother daily on how to feed her child, how much food to give, took her through the side effects of chemotherapy and helped her understand that food can heal. So, she must be conscious of what she feeds her child. We spoke to her about hygiene, practical tips that she would need to follow during her daughter’s treatment.
Then, we spoke to Megha. She was all ready to fight this battle. She was winning already! We put Megha on our nutrition program – including egg, banana and milk. Helped her take baby steps towards supplements. This wasn’t easy. She didn’t like how they tasted. But the promise of stronger legs and a lot of love from all of us helped her conquer her dislike. Megha improved nutritionally from severe malnutrition to moderate. Her appetite is back – a clear sign of good things to come.
Finally, the doctors at NRS Hospital could administer her chemo because she became healthy enough to take it. Dr.Prantar Chakrabarti, Head of the Department of Haematology at NRS says, “I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to express my gratitude to your entire team for the great work done by drawing our attention to nutrition and helping the families to cope with the distress during the entire treatment. Now we have started wondering as to how we were managing the children without you. Hope we can work together for a lifetime to bring about a change in the lives of the children with blood cancers and their families.”
Megha now stays in Murshidabad with her maternal grandparents.
Contributed by Rosy Sarkar, Cuddles Nutritionist, NRS Hospital, Kolkata