Superheroes in all sizes

Every time Asad has to choose a toy, he picks out a superhero figure. He also says that he he’s seen superheroes in real life; not those wearing capes, but those who wear white coats.

In 2011, Asad’s father was working in Faisalabad as a software engineer. A very active 4 year-old at that time, Asad developed a fever and rapidly started losing weight. As his fever failed to subside, his father took him to several doctors, but none of them were able to give a correct diagnosis. One doctor even misdiagnosed him as having contracted malaria. Asad’s parents were in the dark about his condition for the next 3 months, as they helplessly watched their son’s health deteriorate. “Finally, a doctor realised that Asad’s platelets were extremely low; almost undetectable,” said Asa’d father. “He was the first doctor who suggested we get his bone marrow biopsy done.”

“When the test results came back, it was as if the world turned upside down and darkness descended heavily on our spirits. We were told that Asad was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer. We decided to seek treatment as soon as possible and discussed options with doctors and our family. Everyone agreed that we should take him to Shaukat Khanum Hospital, in Lahore. I am so thankful we did. The moment we walked through the doors of the Hospital, our hearts were filled with calm and a great sense of faith. This was clearly not any ordinary place.”

After undergoing financial evaluation, Asad was admitted. The staff assured his father that he need not worry about any of the treatment expenses, because the full cost would be covered through funds donated by generous IKCA and SKMCH sponsors. “I was amazed after seeing SKMCH,” Asad’s father said, “because I did not think a hospital of such high standards, which treated all its poor and deserving cancer patients for free, could exist in a developing country like ours. Asad’s active treatment lasted for nearly three years and the clinical staff were always there for us, helping us to stay strong for our son.”

“He was so little when we first brought him here, but still Asad understood he was ill and was going to a hospital,” Asad’s father continued, “He was very brave. He is still very brave. As for my wife and I, it has been very difficult. It is difficult to describe the feeling when you are holding your child, trying to touch their hand and hoping the warmth lasts forever; trying to memorize their smile and not knowing the next time you will see it.”

Throughout his treatment, his mother was constantly by Asad’s side, but that meant she had to leave their one-year-old daughter with her sister. This was a very difficult period for Asad’s parents, but they held on to their faith and prayed to Allah (swt). “Gradually, we started seeing the positive impact of the treatment and eventually, his strength prevailed against cancer. I cannot explain how grateful we are to all the staff and the donors who have helped us get to this point.”

At the hospital playroom now, every time Asad has to choose a toy, he picks out a superhero figure. Thor is his current favourite. Despite only being 10 years old, he has displayed great strength, endurance, and resilience through his fight against cancer—just like his favourite superhero. Asad hopes to join the Pakistan Army when he grows up, and it seems like he doesn’t intend to let anything get in the way of that dream. Even undergoing weekly chemotherapy could not stop Asad from going to school. The Hospital’s Schooling Program helped him keep up with his schoolwork. Today, he is in class 4 and doing well.

Asad says that he’s seen superheroes very closely, in real life. Not the ones wearing capes, but those who wear white coats. He means the medical staff of SKMCH, who help children like him and their families, in fighting and defeating cancer. But we’ve seen superheroes too, and they come in all sizes, greeting us with bright smiles every day, despite the difficulty of their fight against cancer.

Can you be one child’s superhero? Sponsor a Child Patient at Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

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 about how you can Give one child with cancer a chance at life. 

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