Saturday is World Cancer Day. A few young cancer patients show us how to deal with the dreaded disease, writes Prabalika M. Borah

“Thank you uncle. I passed my exams with a good score; and like you said, I will study hard to be a doctor,” said Prasad from Warangal as he hands over a box of sweets to the doctor who had been treating him for cancer. His parents too were thrilled to share the wonderful news of their son with the doctor and nurses.

It had been a different story a few years back when the couple had walked in with their young son; they couldn't even manage a smile at that time. Prasad was diagnosed with cancer at a young age, but timely diagnosis and constant attention and proper treatment helped get rid of the disease. “I feel like a winner and it is a great feeling. When I was first undergoing treatment, I was too young to know what I was suffering from. I came to know about it gradually, by which time everyone was sure that I would be cured,” recollects Prasad.

His parents say, “As the doctors advised, we didn't treat him as a ‘different' case. We let him lead a normal life. He was allowed to go to school, play. Only on certain days he used to be tired and that's when he needed attention. We didn't know how to deal with it; thankfully we had the support system. Now we feel proud and happy for our son.”

Oncologists stress the fact that cancer in children can be cured and say several kids are cured and are leading normal lives.

Another youngster Adarsh is undergoing treatment for leukaemia. His enthusiasm to get to the next level of his video game will put others to shame. He knows something wrong is going with his blood and assures he isn't scared of the injections. “Every time I visit my doctor uncle he greets me with a chocolate and promises pain free injections,” he smiles. He adds, “When I am tired I love to watch action movies at home,” he giggles. “Counselling parents is very important. Nothing else can shatter parents more than the news of their child suffering from cancer, which could be of any sort,” says oncologist Dr. Vijay Anand Reddy. He quickly reassures, , “Cancer in children is 75 percent to 80 percent curable.”

Another kid who underwent chemotherapy and is dealing with the loss of hair says, “Everyone in our family is bald. We all went to a temple to pray and now we are a bald family,” she laughs. She too isn't unaware of her condition.

Experts say children deal with cancer in a very different way, “Perhaps because they are unaware of their condition, children deal with cancer much better. At time adults almost give up, but not children.” Added to fact their faster-growing cells and tissue regeneration and recovery help them to respond better. They only say ‘No' injections, which can be dealt with a sweet talk and by being their friend,” adds Dr Reddy. Dr Reddy runs an NGO, Cure Foundation, for children suffering from cancer. Cure Foundation creates consciousness on cancer prevention, early detection, cure and rehabilitation . The foundation has also made available quality cancer treatment, both free and subsidised, to more than 500 needy patients and engaged in numerous rehabilitation, research and education programmes.

All in all, there is hope and cheer for families that have to cope with young ones suffering from cancer. Whether it a case of ‘ignorance is bliss', a youthful, positive approach to life or a combination of age and a strong family support, youngsters show that cancer need not kill, either your spirit or your life.