Istiaq Ahmmed Aady, first came to the hospital in his father's arms at the age of eight, suffering from medulloblastoma (brain tumour which affects the spinal cord). Ten radiation therapies later, he was able to walk again.
Now 14 years old, Aady stood up in front of an audience at a programme yesterday and said he's thankful to his doctors for being able to move around.
The “Patient Forum with Cancer Survivors” was held at United Hospital in the capital marking World Cancer Day (today), where doctors and cancer patients shared their experiences of dealing with one of the most threatening diseases known to mankind. The theme of the event was “I am & I will”. Architect Mubasshar Hussein was present as chief guest at the event.
Doctors at the hospital's cancer care centre introduced their patients at the event; each spoke about the journey of their treatment.
Leela Rawat, a breast cancer patient from India, described her multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
“We try to provide comprehensive cancer care, not just treatment,” said Dr Ashim Kumar Sen Gupta. “It is important to develop a close relationship with a patient,” added Dr Saumen Basu.
Radiation oncologist Dr Rashid un Nabi said how another patient, Sazeeda Bari -- who is also a young doctor at the same hospital -- gave him the courage to proceed with her treatment for Ewing sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer).
“I was puzzled as to where I would begin the treatment, because the tumour was large and I was uncertain of her response,” he said.
Bari, on the other hand, said, “Once it happened [being diagnosed with cancer], I took it in my stride, and knew I had to deal with it. I never considered myself sick.” She eventually underwent 30 radiation therapies and 18 chemotherapies and is in remission now.
Patients who spoke at the programme pointed out that cancer treatment is extremely expensive, and it would be beneficial for them if these costs were somewhat reduced. Many of them also said they had to go abroad at some point for treatment, because some of the tests were unavailable in the country.
CEO of the hospital Faizur Rahman said the hospital is trying its best to reduce treatment costs where it can, but more importantly, to ensure cost transparency so that patients and their families can make an informed decision and plan their treatment.
“Cancer treatment is very expensive but if we can assure patients that the best treatment is possible here in the country, patients will automatically see their costs reduce. They will no longer have to undertake the stress of travel and spend money and time to go abroad,” he said.