In India, more than 50,000 new childhood cancer cases are reported every year. In developed western nations, the survival rate in certain cancers is as high as 80-90 per cent. However, in India, the survival rates are lower as the majority of the cases arrive for treatment at late stages where it has already spread to other parts of the body.
As childhood cancers are rare, there are no widely recommended screening tests to detect cancer in children, though some children are at a higher risk of acquiring a particular type of cancer due to genetic factors.
Childhood cancers have a high cure rate but medical treatment needs to be supported by an infection-free, nourishing and cheerful environment.
India faces a unique problem that most of the quality cancer hospitals are in urban areas, while most of the children whose early cancer symptoms go undiagnosed are from rural areas. The other problem is that even middle-class families from rural areas cannot afford to stay in urban areas for hospitalisation for long.
Economically disadvantaged families from rural India bring their children suffering from cancer to cities where quality treatment is available. While treatment may last as long as two years, the child may be an outpatient all through this long stretch or may be required to make several trips to the hospital throughout the treatment period.
Clean and safe accommodation is unaffordable for these families and often they end up living on the pavement next to the hospital where the child is being treated. As a result, the unhygienic conditions leave the child vulnerable to secondary infections, the parents don’t have a place to prepare meals, and there are no toilet and bathing facilities they can use.
The overall experience leaves the families dejected and demoralised to the point where they often abandon treatment and return to their home, increasing the likelihood of their child succumbing to cancer.
This is where organisations like St Judes India step in.
St. Jude India ChildCare Centers (St. Judes or SJICC) provides a home away from home for children undergoing cancer treatment. These children, accompanied by their parents, come from small villages and distant towns where cancer treatment is not available.
St. Judes provides safe and hygienic housing facilities free of cost to rural families who have come to the city for the treatment of their children. They also provide free transport to the hospitals for treatment, cooking facilities, and nutritious rations for parents to give customised home food to their children, value-based education, recreational facilities, and counselling sessions for children and parents.
There are shared kitchen facilities with vessels and kitchen tools, where parents cook food as per their child’s choice. Additionally, there are common bathrooms with clean and hygienic toilets and bathing areas, as well as a place for the families to wash their clothes.
This is a silent and real change brought about by organisations like St Judes. They operate in nine cities across India, providing more than 500 families with a peaceful night’s sleep.
It is time that you become a part of the journey.
-Contribute as little as Rs 1,000 and be a part of the change.
You can contribute in general to a child with cancer or specific plans either by location or theme.
-Would you like to contribute to helping children suffering from cancer with a healthy meal? When you contribute Rs 1,000 the child cancer victim and his family get a hearty meal for two weeks.
-Would you like to contribute to helping cancer-affected children in Mumbai?
– Would you like to contribute to helping cancer-affected children in Delhi?