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     Volume 4 Issue 22 | November 26, 2004 |

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The flower blooms forever

Dr. Nizamuddin Ahmed

Can the crying of a child in pain ever make a parent happy?
A close friend, then by his cancer-struck son's bedside in America, had emailed thus: 'Today he cried out loud. I have never been so happy in my life to see him cry.' His son, an energetic bright spark at 14, had been unconscious for several days before that poignant moment. In the child-parent relationship the medium of contact hardly matters.

Can one find the right words for a child in such pain? Silence seems so unbearable to the unaffected.

A kindly visitor struggled with what to say until he saw a new computer game by his hospital bedside: 'Aren't you lucky?' The child looked back at the visitor and said: ' I have cancer and you say I am lucky?'

A few days later he died. Silence can be unbearable.

Can we answer the questions of bereaved parents who do everything to cling on to a child?

'Why did he have to leave at such an early age? Why after he loved others so much and was loved by others so deeply? Why after he did everything in his power to help others and ease the suffering of others? Why after he continued to achieve brilliant academic results even with the life-threatening disease? Why after all the excruciating pain he had gone through for no fault of his own? Why after his own family, hundreds of his relatives, friends and well-wishers, irrespective of cast, creed or religion, prayed so ardently to the Almighty for his recovery? Why after he himself prayed to Allah subhanu wa ta'ala so regularly, humbly, and passionately, making total submission to His will?'

It is for the parents to find the answer. They are blessed with divine strength.

'For those of us who believe in the Almighty, there is only one answer to these innumerable questions, and that is the Omnipotent does what He thinks is best for us.' Mosabbir Hossain Khan died on 2 April 2003 at the tender age of 17 years 7 months 23 days.

Parents are human. Part of being a parent also means an almost constant tussle with what a child should be doing. He may insist on a new recipe when Mom has her hands full in the kitchen. He may want you to go shopping for a mouse when you have a report to file. He may want this for his computer and that for his bike, when you think he should study for his exams. He may stay up late browsing on the Internet and that definitely calls for a big yell in the morning.

For fear of not growing up to fit into the social icon, parents do not give in to every demand (as different from need) of a child. Only we never ever stop to think that one day he may demand no more.

Pritom, as their parents called him, was no different from any other of his age. His childlike insistence, his whims (Oh how very insignificant can they be!) and his achievements help build that special bond between child and parents.

Is there any solace for the parents?

In the words of his father, a freedom fighter, who escaped to Dhaka from the Pakistan Military Academy during the War of Liberation, and mother: 'There was a rose in our garden, which was only half blossomed. We were all stunned at its magnificent beauty, smelled its intoxicating fragrance and wished to continue smell it. God having noticed our craving, decided to appreciate its beauty and smell the fragrance Himself. He therefore took it nearer to Him.'

In memory of their beloved son's 'strong faith in Almighty Allah and his deep concern and love for humanity', Lt. Col. Mudassir Hossain Khan (Retd) Bir Pratik and his wife Mustari have with the help of their family, eminent advisers and consultants established the Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre.


Mosabbir Memorial Foundation aims at creating services and facilities in health, food, education and other socioeconomic sectors for millions of people deprived of these basic birthrights, particularly the children.

The Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre (House 37/1, Road 3, Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka-1205) is one such project established to provide care, comfort and best available treatment to patients suffering the dreadful disease.

Proshanti, an accommodation facility of MCCC at Dhanmondi for paediatric cancer patients and their attending guardians, started operating from April 2004. It caters to cancer patients who cannot afford to have accommodation in Dhaka during the course of their treatment. The patients are taken care of by doctors and nurses of MCCC during their stay at Proshanti.

Cancer is a word that is no less traumatising than the disease itself. Cancer takes its toll in the form of physical, emotional, psychological, financial and social devastation. The process starts from the moment one is suspected of cancer and continues through the different stages of diagnosis, treatment and ensuing complications till the moment when the disease triumphs over life.

MCCC has been established to dedicate its service through providing emotional support, information, and practical help to people with cancer and their loved ones. It is a non-profitable, philanthropic organisation, devoted to offering professional services nationwide through its counselling, helpline support and awareness building programmes, office-based services, as well as patient care in the form of diagnoses, consultation and treatment. All services are provided at a subsidised rate and are available to people of all ages, with all types of cancer, at any stage of the disease. Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre's reach, including its cancer awareness initiatives, extends also to family members, caregivers and professionals.

At present, there are over one million registered cancer patients in Bangladesh with at least another fifty percent more cases undiagnosed. Every year another additional 200,000 people are diagnosed with cancer. Most alarmingly, this number is increasing in an exponential manner due to causes like increasing population, disproportionate rise in geriatric number, changing lifestyle and environmental pollution.

In Bangladesh the National Institute of Cancer Research & Hospital at Mohakhali, Dhaka is the only government institution of its kind. With accommodation for 50 patients it can also provide chemotherapy to 60 more outpatients and radiotherapy to 120 patients daily. These facilities, however commendable, are nowhere close to the requirements and are far less than adequate.

In the private sector, the Ahsania Mission Cancer Hospital and the Delta Oncology Centre provide diagnostic facilities and treatment in the form of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and reconstructive surgery. The services however are still inadequate in the context of increasing cancer patient pool in the country.
Inadequacy of treatment at home is one big reason why every year almost 35% of our cancer patients go to the neighbouring country for treatment.


People and their families dealing with cancer diagnoses often need professional counselling, individually or through professionally facilitated support groups, for emotional support, assistance in coping with treatment and side effects, home and hospital care, transportation to and from treatment, pain management, financial assistance, understanding and interacting with the doctor, nurse or other healthcare providers, and guidance to resources for better health management.

MCCC's in-house oncology specialists provide consultation regarding diagnoses, disease prognosis and treatment options. The treatment plan provided follows the ICC protocols and the subsequent implementation of the treatment plan is carried out through collaboration between the day-care chemotherapy unit and specialised centres for surgery and radiotherapy. The consultants also follow up the subsequent programme of a patient.

Information and referral
Cancer can have a devastating impact on a person, particularly because costs related to transportation, accommodation, pain medication, childcare, and homecare can be overwhelming for the patient and his loved ones. Whether the patient is from a small rural town or a large urban area, MCCC can help find resources in the community, the region and globally, contact a Social Worker, browse Internet links for a variety of cancer related topics and types of cancer, and cancer hospitals.

Preparing for treatment
People new to the cancer experience can get help making treatment decisions, understanding the effects of treatment, finding treatment centres and doctors, participating in clinical trials of new treatments, supporting a friend or loved one with cancer, and talking about cancer with friends and others.

Coping with treatment
Treatment may affect a patient's life in many ways. MCCC can help one cope with side effects of treatment, feel good about one's appearance, and get information on financial and legal issues, and track side effects and doctor appointments.

After treatment
Patients can learn how to maintain health, discover how to share the experience to help other patients, and find out how to get involved in the fight against cancer.

Donations may be sent to Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre Account No: 01-2346168-02, Standard Chartered Bank, Dhaka.

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