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Shabana Shaikh fights tough, lonely battle to save daughter’s life

Shabana Shaikh from Manchar a town in Maharashtra combating alone for her daughter Sabrin’s treatment, who is suffering from third stage of blood cancer after her husband left her with three children at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH).

Shabana was living a normal life with her 3 kids Seven-year-old son Sameer,four-year-old daughter Sabrin and 18-month-old son Salman and husband Feroz. Her struggles starts after her daughter Sabrin developed a boil below her right eye few months ago, which grew rapidly within 15 days. Shabana, along with husband Firoz Shaikh , a small-time utensil seller, visited D Y Patil hospital, Navi Mumbai, to get her treated.

“A month ago after a series of blood tests on Sabrin at TMH and Burkitts lymphoma was diagnosed, a form of blood cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. He (Firoz) said he is going to collect her medical reports. He never came back”, Shabana told to Indian Express.

Sabrin is undergoing her first cycle of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that have spread in her neck, abdomen and lymph nodes. There will be eight cycles, which will continue for another six months, costing 3 lakhs.

After all family member turned away from further help, Shabana is seeking the help of the hospital’s social welfare department and living with her 3 children in Gadke Maharaj dharamshala in Dadar free of cost. Her day starts at 7 am when she covers the 15-minute distance from the dharamshala to the hospital on foot.

According to a social worker at the hospital, a month ago when Shaikh had come for the first time to Mumbai, she had no identification documents or money. Her in-laws in Manchar refused to provide money to treat their only girl child after cancer diagnosis. “Kehte hai marne do, dusri aa jayegi (They say, let her die. Give birth to another girl),” Shaikh claims.

Dr Shripad Banavali, head of paediatric oncology at TMH, said proper nutrition has to be ensured to children to withstand treatment. “This cancer is treatable. But if proper diet is not maintained, the child may die. As part of our holistic approach, we are giving free meals to not only the girl but even her family. This is a particularly challenging case, as the mother is fighting against the odds,” he said.

“ My seven year old son Sameer runs off. I have been scared to lose him on several occasions,” the hassled mother admits. “The only time I am relaxed is when one of them is sleeping or when Sameer attends the dharamshala’s primary school,” the mother laughs.