Seema and Saif, Bangladesh

Putting yourself in the shoes of a mother in Bangladesh is hard to imagine, but to put yourself in the position of Seema* is even harder. Seema’s son, Saif*, was diagnosed with cancer in February 2019 when he developed a lump in his stomach. 

There is a huge shortage of trained healthcare workers in Bangladesh with even fewer able to care for children with cancer. When Seema took her son to their local healthcare centre the team operated to remove the lump in Saif’s stomach, but the operation was unsuccessful as they did not have the relevant skills to provide Saif with an accurate diagnosis. Seema was paying for treatment that was not helping her child and eventually went elsewhere for help, visiting a further two hospitals before finally being referred to BSMMU which is supported by World Child Cancer.

Saif was such a happy child, always playing and laughing. But when he became unwell it was clear this was no normal illness. He first started to vomit and later we noticed a lump in his stomach. We immediately went to see our local doctor but things were not so simple.”

Seema, Saif's mother

Naturally, being told your child has cancer is one of the most devastating things a parent can go through.

It was heart-breaking to be told Saif had a tumour, to hear that your child has cancer was devastating and I immediately began to fear the worst. I have managed to control my emotions more since I was first told, I know I have to be strong for my son – crying will not help and I am determined to be there for Saif.”

Seema, Saif's mother

Despite living just 30km from BSMMU, Seema and Saif had to take a boat and two buses to reach hospital.

We took a taxi the first time as Saif was too sick to travel but we can no longer afford such luxuries, we now have to take the boat and bus to reach hospital. I am a housewife and my husband does not earn much, so we have to save enough money to support our family as well as Saif’s treatment.”

Seema, Saif's mother

All parents have dreams and aspirations of what they want their child to grow up to become. Saif is just five years old but his mother hopes he can grow up to complete his education and fulfil his own ambitions. She prays each morning and night for her son and says her faith has helped to stabilise her mind when she was fearing the worst for Saif.

Saif is one of over 400,000 children who will develop cancer this year and most of them will live in low- and middle-income countries, where as few as one in ten survive compared to over eight in ten in high-income countries. With your support we can change this for the better. 

£20 covers the transport costs for a family, like Saif’s, living in rural Bangladesh to travel to Dhaka to access the treatment they desperately need.

Saif’s route to effective treatment was delayed when local healthcare workers could not provide the care he so desperately needed. By training more healthcare professionals, supporting families through treatment and raising awareness of childhood cancer, we can give more children the opportunity to have a future.

*Names changed to protect identities

Hearing the news that your child has cancer is something no parent should have to go through. With your help, World Child Cancer is able to provide financial and emotional support to children and their families at diagnosis and beyond, to limit the damage cancer causes.

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