What is the price of compassion? The Story of Pooja and the Purple Bicycle


A child in Canada diagnosed with leukemia, has an excellent chance of survival. Not so in many under-resourced countries including many parts of India. For Pooja, treated at MNJ Institute in Hyderabad, India, her late arrival at the hospital with advanced leukemia lead to a sad reality — the only care possible was palliative care. The care team members at MNJ — supported by Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration— are palliative care experts. When Pooja asked for a small gift, they didn’t hesitate.

The care team recounted:

“We first met Pooja during a play hour session for all the children in the cancer ward. She danced to a popular Telugu film song and she looked just like any other healthy child. A couple of weeks after that dance we got a referral from pediatric oncology to see Pooja for generalized body pain. She was in severe pain, confined to her bed, and her face had swollen up so we barely recognized her. She talked in a soft voice, telling us about her plans to re-write the school exams she was missing. Over the next week Pooja got worse.

One morning, she asked us for a purple cycle. ‘But, Pooja, will you be able to ride a cycle now?’ She said ‘I will get better soon, and then I will ride the cycle.’”

By the next day the team had found a second hand purple bike and purchased it with donor dollars. They brought the bicycle to Pooja’s bedside and she reached out with her hand and grabbed the handle. Pooja passed away painlessly two days later in her sleep with the bike by her side.Why do we support palliative care in India and Nepal? Because children like Pooja deserve so much more than they can afford. Their poverty makes cancer prevention and treatment a dream. Supporting a painless and compassionate death with proper care, medication, and yes, even a purple bike, are such basic needs that regularly go unmet. That means that children like Pooja frequently die in horrible pain with no professional care at all.

Our flagship project collaborating with the MNJ Institute in Hyderabad, sees an average of 30 new children and 300 new adults with cancer every month. Small donations go far at MNJ — less than $40 CDN was enough to purchase this bicycle for Pooja. And from now until the end of the year, every donation we receive will be matched by a generous, anonymous donor from Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

Please remember Pooja this holiday season and give what you can.