Arpita’s journey ignite the fire in us that nothing is impossible
It was a typical day in Bogra in Bangladesh. But not for Arpita, a three year old child. She was excited to meet her new baby brother. "My brother is the loveliest, and he is so adorable," Arpita declared to the world, ignoring her "little one's" looks. But tragically her mother died just two hours after the delivery of her son. Arpita sat silently next to her brother!
Their grandmother reared Arpita and her brother. Their father is an elementary school teacher. Now, Arpita is 11 years old and she has aspirations and desire like any other young girl. But something in her right eye has been bothering her for weeks. One day, she noticed a bulge in her eye while looking in the mirror that made her right vision hazy. She needed a good ophthalmologist to treat her, but they did not have the required considerable amount of money.
Her fathers' teacher, Ms Sunanda Sinha, who was living in New York, came to know about this and spread the news all over the world with the help of their colleagues. They collected 100,000 BDT in no time. The journey gained a little hope.
Arpita accompanied her father to Dhaka to meet Dr Moinul Hoque, a famous ophthalmologist at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), the country's most prestigious post-graduate medical institute. He did a biopsy on her right eye.
The pathologist revealed lacrimal gland adenoid cystic cancer (LGACC), a tear-producing gland in the eye. LGACC is an uncommon kind of eye cancer with a terrible prognosis due to the invasion of the surrounding bone and neurological system. It usually leaves patients with a 15-year survival rate of only 20%.
No doubt that Arpita has a difficult journey ahead of her. Experts and caretakers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Hyderabad, India, and Boston, USA, have been working to save Arpita's sight.
Following the chemotherapy to treat and downstage the tumour before undergoing a surgery, radiotherapy specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary (MEEI) in Boston found second-stage eye cancer. The super specialists have indicated their serious desire to heal Arpita's LGACC while saving her eye.
We are pleased to learn that the bKash, GrameenPhone, and Ayat Education Leadership in Bangladesh are supporting Arpita.
Arpita arrived USA this week. I have seen the potential in this young Bangladeshi. I am confident that if we all stand together, Arpita will not only be treated and lead a productive life, but her narrative will touch millions of people and ignite the fire in us that nothing is impossible.
Arpita's journey, however lengthy and arduous, will be a success story, paving the way for many Arpitas to come with similar unmet needs.
The writer works at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, USA as a Bone Marrow Transplant Physician. E-mail: [email protected]