Bushra: I am a play therapist at Shaukat Khanum Hospital (SKMCH). My job is to address the psychological issues that come up as side effects of cancer treatment.

“It is amazing to see the friendships and bonds that develop among kids over here...sometimes kids even tell parents that they don't need them around at group therapy.”

Counselling goes a long way in helping children win the psychological battle that can often crush the spirits of a cancer patient. At SKMCH we have 
support groups, encouraging bonds between child cancer patients and motivating them to help each other out. All this is an important part of the holistic treatment we provide, and hospital staff like Bushra, make this happen every day.

“My mother died of cancer, and that is why I decided to come and work at Shaukat Khanum Hospital (SKMCH). I come from a family of women where we have always been encouraged to do something new. One of my sisters is a pilot, and I am one of the first play therapists in Pakistan. SKMCH has given us a huge platform to expand this field and make a difference in it in the country.”

“The basic idea of play therapy is to keep children psychologically stable as they go through prolonged cancer treatment. A number of psychological issues come up as side effects of cancer treatment, all of which we cannot eliminate, but over here we attempt to distract them and keep them engaged in various activities to make the psychological effect of their treatment a little easier on them.”

“Kids learn through looking at others; so group child therapy over here really gives them strength and coping strategies. If a child sees another child holding their cannula well, or performing their activities, they get encouraged to do the same. And it is amazing to see the friendships and bonds that develop among kids over here. I still remember we had a group of older children; majority of them were from KP and they would tell their parents that they didn’t need them around when they were at group therapy.”

“We have very strong support groups for children who have gone through amputations as well. In support groups they learn how to use and cope with prosthetic’s as they are introduced to past patients who have learnt to live well despite their amputations. We leave them alone, and that is when they discuss how to start moving (if for instance someone has had a leg amputation). It is a life changing process for them. The survivors who leave here all keep in touch with each other. Social media has played a big role in facilitating this.

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