Helping Children Fight against Cancer-HOPE Project
As most of you are well aware that one our projects, HOPE, aids children suffering with cancer with psycho-social support by helping them maintain a balance in life and manage the disease in a holistic manner.
Worldwide, the annual number of new cases of childhood cancer exceeds 200,000 and more than 80% of these are from the developing world. Seven out of 10 children with cancer in the resource-rich countries are cured, with a five-year survival for certain cancers, for example, Hodgkin’s disease and retinoblastoma, now 95%.
According to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), a decade back, childhood cancers were 2.5% of the total number of cancer cases. Today, they add up to 5.5%. Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai’s Parel area alone treats 2,000 new paediatric cancer cases annually. In India, out of eight lakh cancers diagnosed annually, about 50,000 are childhood cancers. Of these, 30-40% is leukaemia and lymphomas and 20% are brain tumours. We are also increasingly seeing children with retinoblastoma (eye cancer) which form 1% of paediatric cancers. Cancer affects not only the individual but also the whole family and leads to immense financial, emotional, psychological and psycho-social stress. Most of the cancers in children are curable. However, many children die due to lack of comprehensive medical care. The social and economic realities prevent a sizeable population from seeking timely treatment and following up on the treatment.
Mumbai Smiles Intervention
Till date Mumbai Smiles has supported 178 children (87 from Holy Spirit Hospital and 91 from Wadia Hospital) directly or indirectly through our unique and effective psychosocial, HOPE Project.
Daily needs often gets affected when majority of the expenses go for the costs related to the treatment of cancer and many of our HOPE beneficiaries expressed their obligation for the financial support. Due to which we are trying our level best to support the beneficiaries not only in terms of arranging the finances but also providing the psycho-social care to cope with diseases stress. Provision of diagnostic and medical support, nutritional support, blood components, transportation along with counselling support are some of the major services, Mumbai Smiles is delivering to the beneficiaries.
In the study conducted by Mumbai Smiles which defines our Impact and gives us the road map that it is important to address the psycho-social issues revealed that 76% of the beneficiaries expressed their pleasure for getting the psycho-social support during the crucial moment.
It is very important that children and parents are supported for not losing hope during the entire treatment by the multidisciplinary team paying attention to all different psycho-social aspects of functioning which includes financial, social, emotional, educational and psychological support. When treatment is finished this multidisciplinary guidance helps them to quickly diminish the negative thoughts and families regain their own lives. Individual counselling helps children and adolescents to express feelings of loneliness or being misunderstood and help them to bridge the gap to ‘normal life’. This project has created a bonding within all the families of beneficiaries who help each other in reducing their respective pains.
One of the family members (Mother of Riddhi) quoted that for our children, “Hospital has become a place for fun where they feel comfortable and enjoy especially while celebrating various events like Champion of the month, various parties etc. They crave to visit these events and meet their co friends and eagerly wait for the same”. Also it was very much evident that financial support was a kind of motivation for the families to which Mumbai Smiles supported and inspired them to fight with the circumstances and not to lose hope against the illness. HOPE project creates this Holistic Magic of supporting not only the child but also the whole family in the hours of crises when the child is getting treated for Cancer.
This project believes in supporting the needs which no one cares for, the future of cancer treatment definitely lies in the hands of quality treatment but any kind of treatment will not work if the psycho-social needs are unmet. It is very well known fact that children with cancer who receive social support from their teachers, parents and friends report fewer psycho-social problems and a higher self-esteem which is most important aspect in treatment of Cancer. This project plays a very instrumental in increasing the self esteem of the children and the families.
(Mother of Ananya) quotes, “for us Mumbai Smiles is like a family and when we come here and see how you selflessly help us we get motivated and all of us who are part of this project get the opportunity to relieve their stress and meet other families who have the same problem and share our pain, even a family member will not do this much what Mumbai Smiles has done for us. We all will never forget in our lives what Mumbai Smiles have done for us and our children”