Leading the way helping cancer Patients
Greetings everyone. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to state my opinion to you. My name is Arav and I am here to bring your attention, to a disease that is fatal to thousands and thousands of kids world over – Cancer. Just imagine, waking up one morning, going to the doctor’s office for a check-up, then watching TV when your parents walk into the room and explain slowly to you have cancer and that you might pass away soon. Terrible isn’t it? This is what kids suffering from cancer have to go through.
An award-winning journalist, writer and cancer victim John Diamond once said - “Cancer is a word, not a sentence” While Mr. Diamond lost his fight against cancer, his quote has inspired thousands to fight and survive this dreadful disease. Unfortunately, this is not applicable to 250,000 Indian children that die of cancer every year. While I, Arav, stand fortunate in this esteemed room, there could be another Arav, fighting to live another day.
I am here to speak about an issue that is important to the world, but I will be focused on India. While some children sit at home, crying because they feel too stressed by studies, others are hoping to take one more breath. They are hoping to fulfill their dreams, even though they know they won’t.
Due to various reasons, lots of kids don’t get treatment and succumb to cancer. I am trying to help the cause of such underprivileged kids. While I want to save as many kids lives as I can, if my efforts succeed in saving the life of even one such kid, I will consider my mission accomplished.
I am focusing on children with cancer, who cannot afford treatment. I am trying to make sure those poor children, who have lost all hope, have the chance to live. I want to do this because I believe that all kids have a right to go to school, learn, play, watch TV and just be kids. Underprivileged kids with cancer deserve to live and just be kids like any of us.
Madison McLaughlin, a child diagnosed with blood cancer, was treated differently by her mother than other children with cancer. Her mother, Shauna, has been trying to make Madison’s life just as normal as all of her peers, in a time where it wasn’t. Her mother even had to give up her full-time job, to support her child. “Why can't I do all the other things that other kids do?” said Madison, which really tugged at her mother’s heart.
In case you didn’t know, let me spend a few moments on describing what is cancer and what does it do to kids’ bodies? When abnormal cells in the body divide uncontrollably, they start destroying healthy cells. As more and more healthy cells get killed, body functions start failing to lead to death. For example, if a kid has kidney cancer, his kidneys will have abnormal cancer cells that will grow inside his kidneys and kill healthy kidney cells. This causes kidneys to fail which might lead to death. Cancer is especially dangerous and needs to be treated in time for patients to survive. This is because cancer cells can spread inside patient bodies making it extremely difficult to treat. One of the most common treatments is chemotherapy, which is a drug treatment, that can heal cancer if the right amount is taken.
Cancer is much more than just a disease. This disease affects millions of kids, who could have brilliant ideas in their minds, and a bright future. We can stop this. We can stop them losing their lives. That is why I need your help. With your help, we can focus much of our energy in providing timely help for kids fighting cancer so they can lead the normal lives that they deserve.
Cancer treatment can be expensive. Tell me, how would you feel if you were sitting in a room alone all day hoping to get a donation for chemotherapy for yourself or your loved one. Cancer kids should get cured and go to school rather than worry about where the money for next dose of chemotherapy will come from. I feel it is unfair if their poverty holds them back. We can all help make it fair for them by contributing towards their treatment.
Cancer can financially devastate families. Parents have to go through so much, as well as their child. They would have to skip a day of work to go watch their child go through the pain of chemotherapy. All their savings get burnt in treatment. Leave alone the word poor. Poverty adds a whole new dimension to the problem. Poor families with cancer patients in India, even lack money to buy food and feed themselves.
Let us talk about some numbers now. Cancer affects about 12 million people a year, 250,000 being Indian children. 20,000 kids and adults die of cancer everyday world over. Needless to say, cancer is an enormous killer. Cancer is a large killer not only because it is a dangerous disease but also because either people don’t have enough money for cancer treatment or they are too ignorant to take treatment at the right time. Cancer awareness and financial help can save thousands of kids lives in India alone.
Cancer affects all, regardless of age, gender, religion or economic class. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for access to its advanced treatment. In India, there are nearly 70% of pediatric cancer cases that go untreated due to lack of funds or detection at later stages. Not only do most go untreated, but there are 10% of cases who are treated but not with enough treatment. Even at late stages, parents invest most of their money into trying to save their child, but if they die, the parent’s money is gone.
A child I met, Aditya, was in love with cricket. After chemotherapy, when you feel emotional and drained, you could not stop him from stop playing cricket. Day and night, cricket, cricket, cricket. He used to run to town and stand outside a barber’s shop to see the match inside. He only dreamt of actually going to a cricket match, because his parents could not afford it after all the treatment they put him through. The Indian Premier League was coming to an end when we had an idea. A person who we know’s company sponsors the IPL and could arrange 2 VIP tickets, with food included. We took those and surprised him on the day of the match. The whole experience made him feel elated. Not only was the match, a brilliant experience for him, but he said that he had never seen and eaten that much food in his life.
Some of the funds raised can be used to promote awareness of pediatric cancer. If the issue of pediatric cancer becomes important to people, governments will be forced to do more than they have done in the past. The government has helped before but not enough. Better awareness of cancer in the society will lead to a more active agenda on pediatric cancer by governments and political parties.
There are two main ways in which we can help. Firstly, we can raise awareness of pediatric cancer so children can get timely help. Secondly, we can raise funds for families of kids that cannot afford treatment for this disease. Money contributed by kids such as you will go towards this.
In our school, there are numerous children who are stressed out because they have to write a Language Arts essay and they keep procrastinating, but they haven’t felt the real pain. The pain that comes from something you can’t do anything about. The pain that might end you. We can raise funds and reduce the pain of pediatric cancer.
There are lots of people who have large houses and buy Playstation 4 games every month. They are probably oblivious and unaware of this issue. They could save a child or two with the money they put into buying their games. Have you ever truly saved someone’s life? Next time you don’t buy a video game and instead donate to the cause of pediatric cancer, just remember you might have truly saved a kid’s life. Just imagine how that will make you feel!
I know that everyone in this room can offer to push a child over the blockade of cancer. They will be more than delighted, and same with their parents. By donating to my page, where I have already raised about 16,500 US dollars, you can push that child.
As a part of my endeavor, I seek to change these statistics of pediatric cancer and try to turn the numbers around. As an individual, it seems impossible, but collectively a possibility no less than a miracle. I hope that I have been able to convince you to be a part of this collective force.
You can help that needs help, more than anything right now. The money that can provide would go to the children for chemotherapy. You can be the reason why someone survived.
Come out and contribute towards saving kids dying from cancer. I have a web page where you and/or your families can contribute using credit or debit cards. Write your name and email address and I will be happy to send you a link to my page. If you can’t pay by credit card, you can also pay by cash or cheque. I have all the details.
Together we can reduce the number of poor kids dying from cancer. Please help make a difference by contributing for the children.
Age: 12, Grade: 7, School: American School of Bombay
The cause he has chosen and what motivated him to the cause
Arav has chosen a cause of Paediatric Cancer. Coming to India after been born and spending a lot of time in United States, he wanted to make a difference when he saw other kids his age and younger going through a lot of pain but still strong and content . His mother Nikita Padora was deeply engaged with Nargis Dutt Foundation for helping poor cancer patients (particularly Paediatric Cancer). She used to talk to him about her work and the cases that she was working with. He got motivated by this and felt no child should have to suffer or go through so much or lose their life cause of lack of funds hence decided to do his bit towards this cause.
Fundraising page: https://www.unitedwaymumbai.org/scmm-fundraiser-6275
Links to his interviews, features on him in papers and magazines
Humans of Bombay: https://www.facebook.com/humansofbombay/photos/a.188058468069805.1073741828.188056068070045/578456332363348/?type=3&theater
Standard Chartered Marathon: There is an interview that got posted by Standard Chartered Marathon Facebook page.https://www.facebook.com/scmumbaimarathon/videos/1217911664970432/
Dreams for Life: http://dreamsforlife.co.in/2017/01/08/meet-the-7th-grader-who-has-raised-over-rs-9-lakh-to-help-cancer-patients-in-mumbai/
Nargis Dutt Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/Unitedwaymumbai/photos/a.155948844469712.36220.154451264619470/1243538812377371/?type=3&theater
Young inspiring India: https://www.facebook.com/inspiringyoungindian/posts/697863033726075:0