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Struck by cancer costs



By the time 11-year-old Aditya's parents got him to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to be treated for blood cancer, they had already spent close to two lakh rupees. No one in Mathura, where they live, could detect what was wrong with their son and why he was suffering from regular bouts of fever, developing rashes, and had several other problems that seemed unrelated. Finally, a hospital in Agra rushed them to AIIMS after detecting the ailment.

They got to Delhi in June this year and have been here ever since. Aditya's mother has been at her son's side ever since and his father and elder brother take turns to care for him. The family moves from one dharmshala to the other as the 11-year-old is put through one chemotherapy cycle after another. "The emotional trauma is bad enough, the financial burden could have made things impossible for us, " says his mother Kirti. She adds that her husband lost his regular job since he had to be away from work. "We would have been willing to sell whatever we possess for the treatment of our son, but don't know if even that would have been enough, " she says, talking about the prohibitive costs of the drugs.

There is no doctors' fee or hospitalisation charges to be paid at AIIMS, but just the cost of routine medicines is around Rs 20, 000 a month. And that is not including the side effects or the complications that can arise with the use of these strong drugs. It does not end there. If the patient has to respond well, he has to be given a nutritious diet. This translates into additional costs.
Aditya has been lucky. His essential drugs are taken care of by the hospital or the Cancer Patients Aid Association, with whom he is registered. "Despite this we end up spending close to Rs 10,000 every month on tests and medicines, which are not included, and also on staying here and food, " says his mother. For now, the family is trying not to think of the costs, but focus on the well-being of their child.

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