“This is the best birthday Niyaz has had in 8 years!”

Cuddles Nutritionist, Sushma goes out of her way to make Niyaz’s birthday a memorable one.

Niyaz Khan has spent the last five months battling cancer at the Regional Cancer Center (RCC) in Raipur. He has Acute lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) which can progress quickly, and if not treated, would probably be fatal within a few months. But thanks to the expert medical guidance he is receiving at RCC and the ‘In-Supplement Program’ by Cuddles, he is on his way to a healthier, cancer-free life. “I was anxious when Niyaz was diagnosed with cancer. He was dull, inactive and underweight, but he is healthier now because he has access to the Nutrition he needs. I would not have been able to afford this, but Cuddles Foundation helped me out,” says Zubaida Khan, Niyaz’s mother, who works as a cook.

Zubaida has had a difficult life even before Niyaz’s diagnosis. She is the sole earner for their family of four as her husband has dementia and needs support too. “Zubaida understands the intricacies of being a caregiver because of her husband’s condition. She is already strong but wasn’t prepared for this crisis. My role as a Nutritionist also involves taking into account the family’s condition. It helps to understand these dynamics before I start counselling the family about the treatment,” says Sushma, our Nutritionist at RCC, Raipur. This mix of science and psychology is reflecting well on Niyaz’s health too. “He was moderately malnourished when his treatment began, but now he has put on weight and height which proves that his daily nutritional requirements are being met with our In-Supplement Program” adds Sushma.

Sushma has to continually be on her feet to think of innovative ways to introduce essential nutrients into a child’s diet. “Many families that I work with come from poor and uneducated backgrounds, so it is important to reinforce the value of good nutrition. I spend a lot of time verbally talking to the child and their families, so they do not miss out on any critical information,” says Sushma who went out of her way to organise a small birthday party for Niyaz on his 8th birthday. Niyaz was all smiles after he cut the home-made cake and suji halwa made especially for him by Sushma in his ward at RCC. “He was upset that he would not be home for his birthday. But Sushma made sure that he had a good time. This was easily the best birthday Niyaz has had,” says a teary-eyed Zubaida.

“I feel happy when I bring a smile on a child’s face. Sometimes just these little joys make me forget my sorrows because this is for the greater good and extremely fulfilling. After I returned to the cancer ward last month because of a road accident, the children were so happy to have me back. The fact that my return made them happy makes everything I do worth it. I feel my presence makes a difference,” says Sushma. Her only message to families dealing with children with cancer is to put fear and panic behind them and follow through with the treatment.

Our Nutritionists are working tirelessly with children across India so that they are happier, healthier and cancer-free. This journey is made more comfortable with your constant support. Thank you, we hope that you will have our back for a long time to come so we can continue to make a difference with children who need it the most.

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About Shreya Gupta

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