“I was nine when I was diagnosed with cancer but I have been cancer-free for eight years now thanks to the Child Aid Association, great doctors, staff and of course my parents who had to be strong for me,” said an 18-year-old female cancer survivor.
The Child Aid Association, a voluntary organisation working at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), organised an evening with survivors of childhood cancer on Saturday and invited Bulbulay stars Ayesha Omar and Hina Dilpazeer to the event.
Another survivor, a confident young man, who has been cancer-free for 16 years now, shared his fight against the disease when he just could not stop throwing up even after two days of chemotherapy. “My parents and the Child Aid Association team at the NICH stood by me throughout. That’s how I could carry on with my studies despite the drastic treatment,” he said.
Ayesha Omar, a popular figure among the children, said that she lost both her paternal grandmother and aunt to cancer. “We used to hear that cancer was not treatable but it is completely curable in children. Still, one needs to be very strong with a positive attitude to combat cancer,” she said.
Her Bulbulay co-star Hina Dilpazeer, another favourite actor, said. “Helping people is the greatest of blessings.”
The positive atmosphere throughout the evening evoked hope. President of the Child Aid Association Tariq Shafi said that they had helped some 8,000 children receive cancer treatment at the NICH since 1979 when they first started work there.
“And we will continue to help more children while screening the survivors for any kind of relapse. Our OPD for 150 children is one of the biggest here but we hope to find an even bigger place for it. We are working with very good oncologists and have state-of-the-art equipment. We are also training people while spreading awareness of cancer which is completely treatable at the childhood stage,” he said while also mentioning some of the challenges they faced doing all this.
“We are thankful to our donors as it is their generous contributions that enable us to help children but we are still facing a number of challenges starting from finding places for staying for parents and caregivers of the patients who come from outside Karachi,” he added. “The travelling too can be so exhausting and expensive that some parents leave their children’s treatment in the middle due to it,” he regretted.
Sardar Yasin Malik, chairman of a pharmaceutical firm, the chief guest on the occasion, said it was important to stay happy and positive to overcome any difficulty in life.