Shreya Pujari had a swollen kidney since birth but her paediatrician kept assuring the family that the swelling would go away as she grew older. When Shreya was 2 years old, her stomach started swelling and she could not eat without vomiting. After tests, it was clear that the little girl was suffering from kidney cancer.
The doctor then referred her to Hinduja hospital for treatment. The treatment included surgery to remove the affected kidney, 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 7 rounds of radiation. The treatment was very expensive which Shreya’s father, Raju could not afford.
The social worker at Hinduja referred Raju to Jana Rakshita and other NGOs for financial support. Jana Rakshita promptly responded and Shreya's treatment began. Raju expresses special appreciation towards Jana Rakshita because at one point after the fourth chemotherapy, Shreya’s condition had deteriorated drastically and she had to be admitted to the ICU. Both parents had lost hope that their daughter would survive. The Jana Rakshita team was there for Shreya’s family not only with financial help but also with emotional support. Kala personally visited Shreya several times when she was in the ICU and kept in touch with the family throughout.
The team followed up on Shreya’s progress and constantly kept motivating the family to not lose hope.
Shreya’s cancer treatment is now complete and she has fully recovered.
Karan aged 16 years was from Kolkata; his father was no more, his mother still lived there and so did his two married sisters. He had run away from home when he was nine, to find work in Mumbai. Jana Rakshita team was approached by Karan, when they were helping some of the patients on the pavement outside the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in August 2013.
By then, Karan was already working as a mechanic at a garage and lived there itself. He had been suffering from severe stomach problems, which was later diagnosed as cancer. The garage owner was very supportive and even funded part of his medical treatment. His rectum tumor had been removed and colostomy done at KEM hospital in November 2012, after which he was directed to TMH for further treatment.
Karan was determined to get well. During his treatment, he would live in the public toilet or on the street outside the hospital, as he had to come often to the hospital for his treatment. After we met him, we spoke to his doctor who had been insisting on meeting either Karan’s parents or his guardians regarding further treatment. We assured him that we would fill in until his family came over. Since his family members were not able to support him, our team member Shifa and a social worker at TMH took care of his medical and other needs.
Shifa ensured that Karan kept his appointments regularly. However, one Friday morning in October 2013, when he didn’t turn up for his treatment, an extensive search was launched. He was found later in the evening lying unconscious and immediately admitted to the emergency ward of TMH. After a few tests, he was declared Palliative and Shifa with the help of the social worker at the hospital got him admitted to Shanti Avedhana, a hospice for the terminally ill. Since Shanti Avedhana requires a guardian to stay along with the patient, Shifa arranged for his mother to come from Kolkata.
Karan lived his last days bonding with his family; his mother and sisters did all they could, to make his last days comfortable. Karan passed away on November 19, 2013.
Krishiv was 5 when he started having frequent pains in his right ankle. His mother consulted several doctors, including orthopedists and Krishiv underwent many tests, but nothing was conclusive. Medicines provided only temporary relief. When the pain did not subside even after medication, an operation was advised to extract a lump which had formed over the ankle. After a biopsy, it became clear that Krishiv was suffering from Ewing Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
Krishiv’s mother approached a well-known charity-based hospital, where she was told that her son’s leg would have to be amputated. She sought another opinion at Hinduja Hospital, where the ortho-oncologist reassured her that amputation was not required, but the necessary chemotherapy would be expensive. Times were hard. Krishiv's father had died two years earlier, leaving his mother as the sole support for the family.
The complete treatment involved 12 rounds of chemotherapy, an operation to remove the ankle bone, radiation, and wearing custom shoes. The Hinduja Social Welfare Department referred the family to Jana Rakshita .
Krishiv’s mother said, “The moral support I got from Kalaji at Jana Rakshita in the first meeting itself gave me hope and that that my son will be cured. I felt motivated when she shared cases of other cancer – affected children.”
Jana Rakshita helped financially and emotionally. Krishiv’s case was posted on their website and the response made it possible for Krishiv to complete his chemotherapy and to have the needed surgery.
The operation was successful but because Krishiv’s movement was severely restricted, his mother had to quit her job to take care of her son.
The Jana Rakshita team followed up personally throughout the treatment. They visited Krishiv at the hospital and at home with gifts and love. The team at Hinduja Hospital was equally supportive and recovery took place smoothly.
Currently, Krishiv’s treatment is complete and his mother is looking for a job. Jana Rakshita is now assisting her with employment options.
Srihari belongs to a poor family, supported entirely by his father, Ganesh Naidu, a part-time electrician. The family has suffered a series of misfortunes. Two years ago, one of Srihari’s sisters was diagnosed with tuberculosis; Ganesh himself was involved in an accident that fractured his leg and shoulder and left him bed-ridden and unable to work.
Then, Srihari’s health started deteriorating. He was vomiting after eating and developed a swelling in his throat. An x-ray revealed that his heart was severely enlarged. A blood test revealed that his RBC count was shockingly low and after additional tests including a bone marrow sample , Srihari was diagnosed with Leukemia.
The complete treatment required 5 rounds of chemotherapy, 6 rounds of radiation, injections, extraction of bone marrow from spine and medicines for 3 years. Srihari’s treatment took place at a Government hospital whereas the radiation treatment was done at Hinduja hospital and he got concession from the hospital.
Jana Rakshita was referred by the doctor at Hinduja hospital. The Trust helped Ganesh by reimbursing the medical bills which he had to pay in emergency. The team followed up Srihari’s medical progress personally. The trust kept in touch with Srihari’s father regularly counseling them whenever there was a need.
The Trust also funded the annual college fees of his sister after she had recovered from the ailment mentioned above. Jana Rakshita offered to support Srihari’s education too.
Ganesh says, “Kala madam from Jana Rakshita and all those people who helped me in this difficult time are like God and I will never forget them.”
Srihari’s treatment is now complete. However, he needs to take medicines for the next two years which will cost approximately 2,500 – 3000 per month. Ganesh’s shoulder has recovered but his leg hasn’t, as a result of the running around he had to do for Srihari’s treatment. Ganesh is a fighter like Srihari and feels confident that he will work hard and make his family’s ends meet without any more external support.
Sumedha, 7, lived in a village near Hyderabad. She was in Mumbai with her family on a holiday, when she started getting stomach aches. A test revealed that she had a tumor in her abdomen.
Her parents were in a state of shock and the little girl was clueless about what was happening to her. At Hinduja hospital, 12 rounds of chemo therapy were prescribed as the treatment.
Sumedha’s parents came to know about Jana Rakshita through the social worker at the hospital. Sumedha’s mother, Archana met Kala and Priya Darshini and said “We were so tensed about our daughter’s treatment and its cost. But Priya empathized with us and made us feel very comfortable. Kala comforted us like a parent would. They understood that it was very difficult for us to ask for financial support. My husband was feeling so awkward to ask for help. Kala and Priya sensed that and offered help. It felt as though we were sharing our problem with our family instead of some charitable organization.”
Sumedha was cured after the chemo but then another tumor occurred in the brain. The family came back to Mumbai where the little girl underwent surgery along with 10 rounds of radiation. This time too Jana Rakshita helped the family. They supported financially and also visited Sumedha and her parents several times, providing emotional support.
The surgery and the rest of the treatment went off successfully but unfortunately a third tumor occurred in the little girl’s neck. The doctors had to tell the parents that Sumedha would not survive. Shattered, Sumedha’s parents had no family or friends nearby who could comfort them when they faced this horrible news. And Sumedha had absolutely no idea that she was not going to live for long.
Kala and Priya Darshini took personal initiative to make Sumedha’s last days joyful. Like an elder sister and mother, they tried to fulfill her every desire. Priya carried Sumedha in her arms and took her to see the malls. She took her shopping for the diamond–studded sandals that Sumedha wanted. Kala made sandwiches that Sumedha wanted. Sumedha’s parents remember these efforts to give their daughter some happiness during her time in Mumbai. Sumedha and her mother Archana stayed at Kala and Priya’s house for few days before returning to Hyderabad .
At Sumedha's village, her condition started to deteriorate. Priya and Kala came to her village, an 8 hours drive from Hyderabad, to be with her and her parents and to comfort them during Sumedha's last moments.
Sumedha’s parents have a strong emotional attachment with the Jana Rakshita team. They treat them as family because they were treated that way.
Rahul had frequent fevers since birth. A paediatrician in Bandra, where he lives, had been treating him but the exact cause remained unknown. Finally, his mother took him to a specialist. Tests revealed that Rahul had cancer in his liver. Rahul was less than two years old. His parents approached a well-known Oncologist who prescribed five rounds of chemotherapy. Although intuitively the family questioned the doctor's approach, they began the costly treatments.
At the time, Rahul’s father was without a job and the added medical bills were a big financial burden. The family approached several NGOs for help but none were responsive. Meanwhile, the family consulted a doctor at Hinduja hospital who had successfully treated another child in the family with bone cancer. Rahul transferred to Hinduja. There, doctors realized that the earlier chemotherapy had been excessive and that it had caused damage to Rahul's liver. He had to undergo urgent surgery but the family could not afford the required deposit. The doctor at Hinduja took personal responsibility and paid the deposit amount himself, assuring the family that the child would recover. After the surgery, Rahul was on a ventilator for a few days but the doctor did not let the family lose hope. Rahul recovered from this crisis and was able to continue chemotherapy.
The Hinduja hospital social worker suggested that the family contact Jana Rakshita for help. The team at Jana Rakshita was able to get the case details from the hospital rather than bothering the family with paperwork. The family remembers that Jana Rakshita helped them financially at a very crucial time.
Rahul has completely recovered and stands as an example of a brave cancer-survivor. He is attending school and leads a normal childhood. His father is now employed and able to support the family. The entire family appreciates Jana Rakshita for their timely financial and emotional help. For them, Jana Rakshita is like a part of their family. They have such faith in the organization that they have even asked to be informed, whenever funds are needed to help a new patient.
Ashwini was just beginning to enjoy her teenage life when she realized that she would have to battle with Leukemia. The problem was diagnosed after Ashwini suffered a road accident. Her knee pain continued for months afterwards and she became bed ridden. A blood test revealed that Ashwini was suffering from cancer.
Ashwini and her parents were devastated. Her father consulted an Oncologist at Hinduja hospital where four rounds of costly chemotherapy were prescribed. He contacted the social worker at Hinduja for financial assistance.
At the time when Ashwini’s father reached out to Jana Rakshita, Kala, the founder of the Trust, was planning to leave for abroad. Regardless of her personal plans, when Ashwini’s father contacted her for help, Kala did not refuse. She followed up on the case in spite of being away from India. Ashwini says, “No other Trust can take so much personal initiative, as though the beneficiary is a family member. Kala aunty and Priya Darshini not only helped us financially but helped me tremendously to think positively and gave me the emotional support and motivation that I needed the most at that time. They shared inspiring stories which gave me the courage to go through the treatment. Kala aunty even offered to stay at the hospital if the other family members were busy. The best thing about the Jana Rakshita team is that they are ALWAYS there for you, irrespective of their physical presence.”
Today, Ashwini is completely cured of cancer. She is currently pursuing graduate studies and Jana Rakshita is also helping her with college fees.
Ashwini feels a strong emotional attachment with the organization and wants to contribute anyway she can. She is currently assisting the organization with its accounts work.
Sadab Alam Isri
Sadab Alam Idrisi is a 14 year old boy, living with his grandparents in a village near Lucknow. His father is the sole earning member and works in Mumbai as a tailor. Sadab Alam Idrisi is a 14 year old boy, living with his grandparents in a village near Lucknow. His father is the sole earning member and works in Mumbai as a tailor.
Sadab was suffering from chronic fever and the medicines given by the local doctor did not help and when suddenly his urine output stopped, his family got tests done. They were shocked when told that the boy had Bone T.B. They then took him to Lucknow where Sadab was operated. Despite the operation, there was no improvement in Sadab’s health. They then brought him to get re-tested at a hospital in Mumbai where the doctors found that Sadab was suffering from Spine Cancer and that he needed to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They were devastated when they learnt of this. Through the Social Work department of the hospital, Sadab’s father learned about Jana Rakshita and contacted Ms. Sonal from the team for financial help. Sadab’s father is extremely grateful to Jana Rakshita because not only did he receive financial help on many occasions, but Janarakshita team always interacted with them very kindly and even came to meet the child and his family, which he thinks was very comforting in his trying time.
Jeet (Alias Shashwat) Sharma
Jeet (alias Shashwat) Sharma’s story is not only about his own arduous fight but also that of his parents who left no stone unturned for their child’s sake. For the past over 7 years, Mrs. and Mr. Vinod Sharma along with their son have been bravely fighting against a rare kind of Cancer and refuse to give up.
It all started in May 2007 when Jeet was just 7 years. He began getting headaches. The parents thought it must be the heat as it was the month of May. The local physician prescribed pain killers for the headaches which only suppressed the pain temporarily. One day, Jeet while returning from school fell down near his apartment building and became unconscious. His parents rushed him to a hospital nearby. The boy was unconscious for more than 12 hours. A CT scan was then carried out and the provisional report revealed that Jeet was suffering from a tumor in the brain and that blood supply to the brain had been blocked. This meant that he could go in to coma any time. On doctor’s advice, the parents then rushed him to a major well-equipped Hospital. Fortunately, the doctors in Casualty, upon seeing the reports, immediately took him in to the O.T. and performed a 10 hours long operation. A biopsy on the tumour removed from the operations revealed a malignant Grade 2 rare kind of cancer called Ependymoma. As Jeet was too young, radiation could not be given.
The doctors advised that an MRI scan be done every 2 months, as there were chances of the tumor recurrence.
After a year, Jeet had to be operated again as the tumor had recurred. Post operation, he went through 30 sittings of radiation, which is extremely difficult for a child of that age to bear. The cancer then remained suppressed for 3 years. During this period, regular MRI scans were carried out. The parents also tried Homeopathy but to no avail.
In 2013, the boy had to undergo surgery again as the tumour had developed again. By this time the cancer had worsened to Grade 3. Radiation could not be given, as the time gap from the last radiation was less than 5 years. The doctors did not build any false hope and informed the parents. MRI scans were then required to be carried out twice a month, as chances of relapse were very high.
Surgery had to be carried out for the fourth time in 2014. This was again followed by radiation and chemotherapy. This time, the cancer had spread to his spine and had reached the anaplastic grade. As fate would have it, the poor child then contracted chicken pox.
Jeet’s social activities like schooling and going to play in the evenings have come to a standstill. The boy is now facing many physical problems related to eyesight, hearing and is unable to even balance himself. His parents keep him occupied with hobby classes conducted by a kind well wisher at home.
The parents have spent heavily in these years and have used all possible sources of financial help, but like any other parents will not give up and keep fighting to keep their son alive. For his son’s happiness, Mr. Vinod Sharma also appealed to Jeet’s favorite actor Hrithik Roshan to meet the boy. Hrithik was very kind and spent time chatting with Jeet, which cheered the boy immensely.
Now, Jeet is miraculously recovering well, thanks to his own “never say die spirit” and that of his parents who fought long and hard and tried many alternative treatments including the Ketonic diet.
Mr. Sharma appreciated the fact that the hospital has given substantial concessions and also received help from a few charitable trusts but what sets Jana Rakshita apart from the other trusts is that apart from financial help, the kindness and emotional support that Ms Kala gave to the Sharma family. Her regular follow-ups and guidance made a huge difference to them unlike other trusts, which only gave financial help. Janarakshita has helped the Sharmas multiple times as the family has been drained trying to meet the treatment and other expenses over the years.
Asad Ahmed Shabbir Sheikh
Asad was merely 9 months old when his family noticed that his stomach was swollen from one side. After many tests were conducted, the family unfortunately realized that the little baby was suffering from Liver cancer. This little baby, who had just begun his life, had to be operated. 3 chemotherapy sessions also had to be undergone.
Asad’s father, Shabbir Sheikh works as a karigar in a Zari karkhana and earns a very humble salary. He approached many trusts suggested by the Social Work department and received help from all but it was only the Jana Rakshita team who came to meet him personally at the hospital and offered more help because for Jana Rakshita compassion and understanding are highly valued. He received funds more than once from Janarakshita. Shabbir feels that the special attention the JRCT team showed towards the baby meant a lot and made them feel part of Janarakshita family.
Sonu (name changed) was born with Exstrophy of Bladder, which is an extremely rare urogenital malformation and involves protrusion of the urinary bladder through a defect in the abdominal wall. The little baby has undergone an extensive surgery for closure along with a hospital stay of more than a month. The infant bore about 150 stitches and was kept with her legs tied together for the entire duration. The expenditure for this surgery and stay was around Rs. 7 lakhs. Sonu's father himself had unfortunately gone through a hip replacement surgery due to a road accident, costing a sizeable amount and also suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis. With such medical expenses, the sum required for even the first surgery was beyond the reach of the parents. The parents approached Jana Rakshita for support in their hour of crisis.
Sonu’s father recalls that it was at that critical time that Kala Shyamsunder entered their lives as God sent and gave them hope when no one else did. It was that initial support that gave the family courage to fight for their child. Jana Rakshita sent out an immediate appeal to its donors who donated promptly and generously helping cover the cost of Sonu’s treatment.
Currently, Sonu is living a healthy and normal life. Her next surgery will be after 3 years. In the meanwhile, the family’s main challenge is to protect her from urinary infection as children with exstrophy are far more susceptible to catch infection than other children and their urinary infection can reach the kidney very quickly.
Recently, Sonu contracted urinary infection and because the infection had immediately reached the kidney, she had to be hospitalized. Sonu’s family has to necessarily go back to the same hospital that performed the surgery for every problem faced post treatment, though it is far from their residence and expensive too, as no other hospitable is able to help.
Little Sonu is a fighter and that spirit probably comes from her parents who in their boundless love for their baby have left no stone unturned in their struggle to save little Sonu.
Ritik Gupta, 15, was detected with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in April 2016. Earlier when there were symptoms like fever and bone pain, the family took him to a local doctor in their village Sidhi in Madhya Pradesh. The doctor diagnosed it as malaria and treated him accordingly. However, when Ritik did not get any relief, the doctor suspected that Ritik’s body lacked adequate amount of blood and advised blood transfusion, which was carried out after the family managed to get some donations of blood for the boy. However, his condition did not improve. They went to one town hospital after another trying to get the correct diagnosis. Finally, the family went to Nagpur where a doctor conducted bone marrow test and finally diagnosing blood cancer.
As the family possessed a very moderate source of income, they approached the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. However, as the waiting list of patients was too long and the situation was urgent, they rushed the boy to the Hinduja Hopsital. The social worker at Hinduja informed them about Jana Rakshita. They then met Kala Shyamsunder along with Ritik and explained the case. Alok, Ritik’s brother, recalls the warmth with which Kala attended to the family and extended help very swiftly not just once but on multiple occasions. The entire cost of the treatment was 10 lakhs for which they received help from friends, relatives and some other charitable trusts.
Ritik’s treatment involved several rounds of chemotherapy till December after which he was discharged. Unfortunately, the cancer recurred and Ritik had to be readmitted in Hinduja hospital for further treatment.