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‘Childhood cancers are curable but their treatment is costly’

By Our Correspondent
November 18, 2019

Each year The Indus Hospital (TIH) celebrates the journey of paediatric oncology patients who fought bravely and became cancer survivors. This year the event ‘Childhood Cancer Survivors Day’ was celebrated at the PAF Museum on Sunday.

Dr Shamvil Ashraf, Indus Health Network (IHN) medical services executive director and founder of paediatric oncology services at TIH (previously under the banner of Children Cancer Foundation Pakistan), informed the audience about cancer treatments.

“Fortunately, the incidence of cancers in children as compared to adults is quite low. Only three per cent to five per cent of cancers occur in children less than 15 years of age. Each year around 1,000 children are registered at TIH to be treated for cancer. Early diagnosis and timely treatment can help children fight the deadly disease.”

Dr Ahmer Hamid, head of paediatrics at TIH, said: “Childhood cancers are curable but majority of the patients cannot afford the costly treatment. We are trying to help children overcome this battle and will continue doing so with the help of our donors.”

Celebrities, the Indus faculty, members of the IHN board of directors and senior leadership attended the event to recognise the incredible determination of the patients, express solidarity with their families and appreciate the dedicated medical practitioners, health care professionals, volunteers and supporters.

Cricketer Shahid Afridi and actors Junaid Khan, Zahid Ahmed and Naveed Raza also attended the event. Speaking on the occasion, they hailed the high-class quality services provided at TIH without any charge. The event was attended by over 150 long-term survivors of childhood cancers, many of whom are accomplished professionals today.

One such survivor was Waleed Khan, who is now an SSU commander and has twice won the title of weightlifting. At the end of his speech, he said: “Now my statement is truly justified that cancer is a blessing for me.”

He said that his cancer had changed everything for him. “Cancer gave me strength to live a happier and more energetic life. I did all this because I think we as cancer survivors are stronger than others.”

The Survivors Day event featured a touching display of gratitude by the survivors for the health care professionals who helped them fight their illnesses, including doctors and nurses, as well as the support teams such as housekeeping, nutrition and food services, drivers and other hospital staff.

The tearjerker of an evening was an activity highlighting glimpses of the cancer journey by survivors of all ages, with emotional messages such as “I used to be scared of nurses. Now they are my friends”, “being repeatedly poked and prodded by cannula to find a good vein hurt too much”, “chemo felt like fire flowing through my veins” and “I felt as if I was swinging between life and death”. The event was brought to a close by providing survivor badges and goody bags.

TIH had started in the year 2007 as a 150-bed, state-of-the-art, tertiary health care facility providing quality treatment free of charge to every patient. After widening the scope of work, the hospital has turned into the IHN.

The network is focusing on the development and management of various public and private hospitals throughout Pakistan. The network is also carrying out malaria, AIDS and TB outreach programmes in the country.