City anchor: Children fight cancer with colours, music and dance

Eight-year-old Prayag is shy and doesn't mingle much with other children. But give him a sheet of paper and some colour pencils and he will happily vanish into his own little world and then explain enthusiastically the various characters he has etched on paper.

Parag is among the 200-odd children fighting cancer and who have been attending therapy workshops organised by the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) for the past six weeks.

On Christmas, an exhibition of art by them and and dance performances were showcased at the hospital.

"Many are not aware cancer in children is biologically different from that in adults. However, children have no baggage in their minds and handle the disease better. But if a child is only bombarded with chemotherapy and medication without any attention on their minds, he just might lose the will to fight," said Dr Shripad Banavali, HOD of Medical and Paediatric Oncology at TMH.

Five per cent of the total load of cancer is on children. TMH, which gets close to 2,000 children for paediatric cancer treatment every year, launched the 'Impact Foundation' on Tuesday. Apart from medical aspects, the foundation focuses on holistic care for children battling cancer.

The outpatient department of TMH gets around 300-350 paediatric cancer patients a day. As many as 90 per cent of them are from outside Mumbai. Hence they are forced to drop out of school or put a break in their studies, like 16-year-old Amol who is from Uttar Pradesh and has been undergoing treatment for around six months.

"I know I have to discontinue my studies if I have to be cured. But I can't wait to resume studies, I want to be a doctor," says Amol.

To reach out to such patients, TMH has started weekend classes, 'Edutaintment' so that their studies are not entirely compromised.

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