Soothing balm for children with cancer

Soothing balm for children with cancer

Children look forward to coming for treatment as they forget their pain and play.

Ten-year-old Wahid Mansuri is too young to understand what leukemia or blood cancer means. He needs frequent blood transfusion to keep him going. For that he has to visit a hospital frequently. When his normal blood cells drop, he needs blood transfusion. Till some time ago, visits to the hospital were a problem for him. Now, for good, things have changed so much that Wahid looks forward to visiting the hospital. All this has been possible because of Mat Clinic.

Scores of children like Wahid come to Mat Clinic where they are taught not only topics of their interest but also get to play with toys and give vent to their imagination through paintings.

An effort by an organisation called Cankids...Kidscan has initiated this effort for cancer patients aged between three and 12. “Children look forward to coming to Mat Clinic as they get to be themselves and forget about treatment and the pain that they undergo here at the hospital,’’ said Sonal Leuva of Cankids. Sonal conducts Mat Clinic here for 100-odd children.

CanKids… KidsCan is a support group for children with cancer and their families across India.

Wahid, who has been attending Mat Clinic, now knows about a healthy diet and is aware of the kind of schedule that one needs to follow for leading a healthy life. “Apart from playing with toys and pedalling around on a bicycle, we are also told about the nutrient value of food,’’ said Wahid.

Ten-year-old Shivam Prajapati, who is also a regular to Mat Clinic, did not know how to do multiplication or division of sums. Now, when he comes for radiation and chemotherapy treatment, Shivam gets to play with a variety of toys and do worksheets provided to him. “I hate to come to the treatment ward as it is painful.

But after the treatment when we start playing and learning lessons through play, the pain reduces and mind gets diverted,’’ says Shivam. He is also suffering from blood cancer.

Sonal says for children who can walk around, the interaction and activities are outside the cancer ward at the Gujarat Cancer Society, a joint venture of the state government and private players. For children confined to bed, Mat Clinic is held in the ward.“There are children who are in the advanced stages of cancer and they cannot move out of their beds. So, with the permission of the hospital we ensure that they are not deprived of playing and learning,’’ said Sonal.

They also get similar kind of worksheets which enable them to enrich their knowledge and are told about various aspects of healthy life.

Sonal said for children who perform well in these worksheets and show inclination towards studies they organise tuitions for them. In some cases, the organisation manages scholarships for them also.

“Ten-year-old Sawan was doing well in studies, especially mathematics, and had shown keen interest in studies. We had organised tuitions for him at the hospital,’’ said Sonal.She said while other children would play and participate in paintings, Sawan was given tuition and had even got a scholarship. She said that the boy looked like he was recovering well. But unfortunately, his condition deteriorated and studies and scholarship had to be discontinued.

Even parents of some children, who attend Mat Clinic, have noticed the difference in their wards. “As it is, children go through a painful process of the treatment and they dread coming to the hospital. But this clinic outside the ward acts as an incentive for children to come and spend some time here,’’ said Kamla Prajapati, mother of Shivam.

She said children are aware of their disease. They have to take medicines regularly to suppress the pain. “Mat Clinic has been a reason of motivation for them,’’ admits Kamla.

Mat Clinic ensures that children are not deprived of any festivities. “With Holi approaching, children are aware that they will not be able to splash colours like others outside. We ensure that we organise Tilak Holi for them in the ward,’’ said Sonal. Children also celebrate Diwali where they light diyas in the ward and make a rangoli outside the ward.

As these 100-odd children undergo the painful process of radiation and chemotherapy, they learn a few things when they come for treatment. “They improve their language skills and some of them even pick up reading and writing at the Mat Clinic,” said Sonal.

She said that at present they had restricted their efforts just to this hospital and the cancer ward, but they are trying to make foray into other hospitals in the city to bring in a little smile and make a difference in the lives of the suffering children.

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