At an age when children should be the most active, running around the house, joining the primary school, and making new friends, my son Arjun is fighting for his life. And not just for a couple of months but for 3 years now. His cancer has relapsed thrice in these 3 years despite removing his bladder completely last year. And now he needs your help to survive.
In October 2018, he complained about stomach pain all of a sudden. The series of scans revealed that there is a mass in the urinary tract which is not allowing my son to pass urine. The doctors did a biopsy to find out whether it is malignant or some benign lesion. We thought it's a normal procedure - how can a completely healthy three-year-old have cancer! I still remember the day I had the reports in my hands - our biggest nightmare had come true. He got diagnosed with Bladder Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma - a rare form of cancer that affects children.
After consulting several doctors across India, we started the treatment in Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre, Chennai. We did 52 weeks of chemotherapy and proton radiation.
Since the tumor is in the neck of the bladder, the surgical intervention would most likely result in the removal of the entire bladder. And if we go for conventional radiation therapy, the growth of his pelvic bone will be affected and he will never be able to walk properly. After completing the treatment, the whole body PET CT scan revealed he is cancer-free in August 2019.
He was a normal and active child for a month. Since the last week of August 2019, the same symptoms started to develop. We did a series of scans again, which revealed that cancer had relapsed in the same place. This time we took a hard decision to treat this beast by removing the entire bladder and stronger chemotherapy regimens. The surgery went well at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital – the doctors removed the entire bladder and prostate and bypassed the urine from his kidney by cutting the portion of the small intestine to drain the urine into the bag which is fixed in his abdomen. He took everything positively and did all the activities as a normal child even with the bag attached all the time in his abdomen. At the end of this treatment, he was again declared cancer-free.
We did a routine 3-month follow-up scan and found a small mass in the pelvic area, the doctors thought it might be a granulation tissue due to surgery. We did a scan again after a month, it showed the size of the mass had increased. Since we did a surgery one year back in the same place, another surgery might have been risky but we took the strong decision to go for surgery. Fortunately, the doctors were able to remove the tumor and some of the lymph nodes in the pelvic area without affecting the other organs. Now we have to start chemotherapy once again and also need to go for radiation to control this aggressive tumor. Since conventional radiation will have a lot of side effects, we have to go for proton radiation to maximize his survival rate. Since we already lost his bladder, we can’t afford to have more side effects due to conventional radiation.
We have already spent 75 lakhs over the last 3 years. But we have run out of all funds. This is why we are requesting you to extend your helping hand, in whatever capacity you can. The approximate cost of this treatment is 30 lakhs and there’s no way we can afford this without your support.