It is not easy for children to deal with the aftermath of a disease like cancer as it takes a toll on them both physically and emotionally. While dealing with this new way of life, how people around you act and behave can make a huge difference. Most battles we fight in life are psychological, and cancer is no different.
This is the story of how 10-year-old Mehareen from Bangalore is making a difference to not just her own life but also her primary caretaker, her mother. Mehareen was diagnosed with Leukemia three months ago after her family doctor recommended a Bone Marrow examination because of recurring fever. Salma, Mehareen’s mother, was taken aback, but they quickly re-arranged their life to accommodate Mehareen’s treatment. “I have two other teenage daughters, while Mehareen is the youngest. My husband looks after them while I focus on Mehareen. This rearrangement has made our life easier,” says Salma.
The father and the two daughters are also sensitive to this new ask. They make sure that Mehareen feels comfortable by assuring her that this is a temporary phase. Mehareen is a child of few words, but she silently responds to this new family dynamic. “She reads my face, and we have a way of communicating that gives me strength,” says Salma. Mehareen understands that by following the diet prescribed by her Nutritionist, Rathan, she is helping her parents take care of her.
“When I met Mehareen, she weighed 23 kgs which is low on the BMI index. I advised her to keep a food journal so we can track her nutritional intake. Mehareen took this task very seriously and found joy in it. She would excitedly inform me how she had kept up with the schedule.” says Rathan, Cuddles Nutritionist at Shri Shankara Hospital.
Mehareen especially found strength in writing down her mother’s delicious recipes in her journal. It was another example of a non-verbal connection between the mother-daughter duo. This improvement showed up on the weighing scale too, she is now 26 kgs and on the last cycle of chemotherapy.
Mehareen will begin her maintenance therapy soon, and it will take her two more years to be declared a cancer survivor. “I am looking forward to the time when I can meet my cousins, friends and neighbours like old times. Till then, I will draw on pots and continue to write in my food journal.” informs a determined Mehareen.