It was on Children’s Day, 14th November 2016 when her 2-year-old Aarohi wouldn’t sleep. “She was coughing all night. Worried, I took her to our local doctor the next day,” says the mother. The doctor prescribed a few medicines, but her cough and cold persisted for weeks, while she was steadily losing weight every day.
Sensing that things could be worse than he thought, their doctor recommended she take Aarohi to St. John’s Medical College and Hospital in Bengaluru for further check-up. “How was I supposed to do that? Being a single mom, raising Aarohi was tough in itself, but taking her to Bengaluru? I was confused. I had nothing with me; we were barely making it.”
Somehow, with her brother’s help, Tannu managed to bring Aarohi from their hometown in Siliguri to Bengaluru. That year, Aarohi was diagnosed with B-Cell ALL, a common childhood cancer. “I was devastated. I had no money with me, and the expenses for treatment, rent, and food were beyond my capacity. But my daughter had to survive,” recalls the mother.
Like many single moms, Tannu wasn’t one to give up. She started a small food stall in Bengaluru to pay for their living expenses. “It was doing well until a few local goons started troubling us – they wanted me to pay them to operate my stall.” She tried reaching out to local authorities for help, but nothing worked. Finally, she had to shut shop and look for other options. “I then started picking up housemaid jobs to get by. I had to do something!”
While they were struggling for rent, treatment and other things, Tannu and Aarohi met with the Cuddles Nutritionist at the hospital. Aarohi was on medication, but the side-effects of vomiting, diarrhoea were taking a toll on her. The nutritionist, Sana, heard her out and put her on the ration program. “For six months, while I was trying to find work, the ration was a life-saver,” says Tannu. Aarohi was also put on a diet plan so she could withstand chemotherapy. She slowly started regaining her strength.
Aarohi is six years old now. She has completed her active treatment, is healthy, eating well and going to school in Bengaluru. She has to follow up with her doctors every three months for the next three years to make sure cancer doesn’t return. “She is too young to understand what she’s fought. Maybe when she’s old enough, I’ll let her know,” says Tannu.
Tannu continues to visit us during follow-ups to make sure Aarohi is growing stronger. “There’s somebody out there who cared about us and supported us when we needed it the most. I’m so grateful for that. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through my experience in these past few years, it’s this – never lose hope,” she signs off.
Thank you for being the beacon of hope for mothers like Tannu, and helping their children survive cancer.
Update: After being cancer-free for two years, Aarohi relapsed in April 2021. She is back on active treatment at St John’s Medical College and Hospital, Bengaluru. Thanks to your support, she is currently under the care of our Nutritionist and has access to nutrition through our monthly Ration and Supplement Programs.