Swaraj was diagnosed with Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia at the young age of 5 years and was admitted in Bharati Hospital, Pune. He underwent a painful treatment that included chemotherapy and supportive care lasting over 8 months. He belongs to an extremely marginalized and underprivileged family with a combined household income of Rs 80,000 per year. At the time, his parents did meager jobs to make ends meet- father was a painter and mother worked as a daily wage farm laborer.
The emotional turmoil that comes with cancer took a toll on baby Swaraj’s family which led to his father separating from his mother and abandoning the family. To make matters worse, due to the taboo associated with cancer in our society, her family and neighbors tried to convince Swaraj’s mother, Sunita to stop his treatment, saying that “there is no point of spending so much money on his treatment because he doesn’t have any chance to survive…. After all, who survives cancer? Just accept the inevitable”.
Sunita stood as a pillar of strength, courage and undying hope and refused to give up. She was confident that her son would defeat cancer and have a healthy and happy childhood, irrespective of what people may say and she continued to persevere. She moved back with her 6 parents along with Swaraj and somehow managed the funds for his treatment, by borrowing money from relatives and taking the support of NGOs. She recalls her toughest days when she had to leave for work and Swaraj stayed in the hospital all alone for several hours at a time, often in great pain.
After his treatment was completed, his mother could not afford to pay his school fees and decided to keep him at home. That is when she found out about the YouWeCan Scholarship for cancer survivors, from the family of another cancer survivor, and approached the foundation. The team at the foundation guided her through the application process and after all the necessary due diligence procedures were completed, Swaraj’s application was approved and he was awarded the scholarship.
Today, Swaraj is a healthy child who loves studying and making people around him smile. He is studying in lower kindergarten in Shobhatai Sopal English School. His teachers are thrilled to see the talent and positive energy he brings to the class. With the help of the YouWeCan Scholarship, his dreams of becoming a doctor are being fueled further.
Swaraj hopes to share details of his experience of fighting cancer to help other children who are battling the disease, by showing them that there is hope and there is life after cancer. He is now able to live the life he always wanted!