My 6-year-old son Anand has been in the hospital, kilometres away from home, since July 4, 2017. Anand was diagnosed with a condition called ‘Recurrent Anaplastic Brainstem Ependymoma’ in 2014. Since his diagnosis, his brain has shown presence of tumours three times, shattering our world each time.
He has received a total of 45 cycles of radiotherapy as a part of his treatment so far. While these cycles didn’t destroy the tumour, they’ve relieved him a little. For a year, every door of hope was closed for me as all doctors in India had given me an unfaltering explanation of how no surgery could cure Anand’s condition. His only option was receiving continuous radiotherapy for a couple of months. It left us with no hope. Reducing his sufferings is the least a father can do so I focussed all my energy on ensuring Anand gets the best support and care from everyone around him. About 4 months back, we saw a small ray of hope when Anand’s doctor spoke about an eminent Australian surgeon, Dr. Charles Teo, who’s known for treating patients with similar conditions. While I’m prepared to do whatever this path demands all over again, the amount required this time is an unimaginable Rs. 30 lakh.
I’m Vikram Singh, Anand’s father. I live in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh far away from where I work. His treatment has costed me over Rs.79 lakh so far- this includes the surgery cost, radiotherapy cycles, doctors’ fees, hospitalisation charges. I have nothing left since the savings that I had, have all been used to pay for his treatment so far. I used to work as a consultant and make Rs. 15,000. Since the last 12 months, I’ve been unemployed because I don’t have the choice to leave my son and wife alone in a hospital that’s not even in the same city as me.
Seeing my son battle hardships is one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. Today, my son is breathing with the help of a ventilator, eating with the help of tubes inserted in his mouth, getting medicines directly into his lungs and brain through pipes. He cannot be taken off these machines, they’re keeping him alive. This disease has confined him to his bed, eliminating his trips to the toilet, even his excretory system is connected to tubes.
It all started with a stubborn fever in February 2014. We were horrified when his head started tilting to the sides. It seemed like his neck couldn’t carry the weight of his head. We rushed him to the hospital. After running tests for almost a month, a tumour was detected in my son’s brain. This life-threatening condition was prepared to take my son’s life if not operated. In a very short period of time, I gathered Rs. 6 lakh to get him operated in Mumbai. The operation destroyed his tumour and my son lived a happy healthy life for around 3 years after that. In December 2017, however, the fear of losing our son hit us again. My son showed the exact same symptoms. I kept telling myself that maybe it hasn’t come back, maybe I’m just being paranoid. But my biggest nightmare had come true, my son’s tumours were back and so was his cancer. For a few months, it looked like he was better until a strong dose of chemotherapy led to lung failure. This was the worst phase of our lives. For one month, we did not hear his voice or see him smile or even move. He was just like a breathing corpse. My daughter and wife spent every single day by his bedside, talking to him, telling him stories, trying hard to bring him back to consciousness.
After battling so many adversities, we’ve finally found a way out. This is all that we’ve ever dreamed of, there’s nothing more we want, than seeing Anand better and out of the hospital. I personally spoke to Dr. Charles and made him understand how I have absolutely no funds to get Anand to Australia. Dr. Charles has been kind and agreed to come to India to treat Anand, now it all depends on how fast I gather the money required for the treatment to begin. This treatment option involves immense risk but this is our only hope and I have very little days left, please help me.