Join us in the Fight for our Children

This September, for Childhood Cancer Awareness month, we’re remembering a boy with unbreakable spirit.

One of Shaukat Khanum Hospital’s (SKMCH) many child patients, Huzaifa became the face of our Zakat campaign for Ramadan 2016. Two years later, despite all efforts, we lost Huzaifa. Though the pain of his death has shaken his family, his village and all of the hospital staff that strived for his survival, Huzaifa’s life and death will not be in vain.

Did you know that 4,500 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK?

That’s ten children every day. Thanks to investment in research and treatment, survival has increased dramatically over the past 50 years and four out of five young cancer patients can be successfully treated.

Let’s compare these numbers to Pakistan, where over 8,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year!

That’s double the amount. That’s over 20 children a day! With no national health service, and 40% of the population living in poverty, the survival rates in Pakistan are much, much lower. Yet if Huzaif’s story demonstrates anything, it’s that against all odds, Pakistan has a national spirit that refuses to accept that the poor simply do not get the same chance at life.

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Like many child patients at Shaukat Khanum Hospital today, Huzaifa’s is a poor family from a poor community in Nowshera. Their village was heavily affected by the 2010 Pakistan floods. Huzaifa’s father used to work as a labourer in Peshawar, before his youngest was diagnosed with Sarcoma. He had to leave his job and relocate his entire family to Lahore for Huzaifa’s treatment.

To make the family’s move possible, the people of Huzaifa’s village – family, friends and neighbours- pooled their money together. These were people who had lost their houses and cattle in the 2010 floods. They too lived in poverty, leading extremely difficult lives, yet to save little Huzaifa they gave what they had. “The move from Nowshera cost us immensely.” Huzaifa’s father had explained then, “The people of our village got together and raised this money for Huzaifa, to save his life.”

Following a successful surgery during, which his tumour was removed, Huzaifa started undergoing chemotherapy. The sessions were especially hard on him. He complained of excruciating pains and his body was wracked with a fever that went on for days after every chemo session. “He cried,” his father said, “but my son was also very brave and he had an unbreakable spirit.”

The memory of that unbreakable spirit is what continues to drive our efforts with renewed vigour.{

It is pointless to think, ‘what if Huzaifa had been diagnosed earlier?’ But we refuse to believe that all the efforts of his family, friends and village, were in vain. Today, the loss of this beautiful child spurs us on to do better to save other children like him. That’s why we need to act fast!

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In the fight against cancer, a late or incorrect diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death for a child patient. Yet the lack of reliable medical facilities in Pakistan, puts a strain on sick people who are forced to travel to get medical tests done. To meet demand and support patients in harder to reach areas, Shaukat Khanum Hospital runs Diagnostics Centres, Outreach Screening Clinics, and over 90 Laboratory Collection Centres nationwide. But we don’t stop there…

In 2015, we established a second Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Peshawar, offering a life-line for people like Huzaifa’s family, throughout the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Today, we are working to build a third hospital in Karachi. Out of the 8,000 children diagnosed with cancer in Pakistan every year, 12% do not survive. This is the least we can do to change those numbers.

Huzaifa’s story is so much more than the story of a child we lost to cancer. It is the story of human spirit: the spirit of a child, a family, a village and a nation. We will not give up on trying to save other children like him. This Childhood Cancer Awareness month, please join the fight in memory of Huzaifa.

Sponsor a Child Patient at Shaukat Khanum Hospital. Give one child with cancer a chance at life. 

Last year at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, we were able to provide free cancer treatment to 75% of our patients through your donations. Many of them were children who were saved through sponsorship. Find out More

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