Inaam: At the age of seven, Inaam was diagnosed with cancer.

“When they cured my son, I saw the importance of what all those donations had achieved.”

Inaam and his family are from a small town called Sheikhupura in Pakistan. Inaam was diagnosed with cancer when he was only 7. It was an ordinary summer’s day when he was suddenly taken ill while playing with his siblings. Inaam’s mother remembers how he started vomiting uncontrollably. “I also noticed that he had a fever,” she says. “I didn’t remember him eating anything unusual. I thought maybe he’d secretly had some bad food from a street hawker and was not telling me.” After several days, Inaam’s condition still didn’t improve. He still had a high fever and was unable to go to school. He was taken to some local doctors but they weren’t much help until one of them suggested that Inaam be taken to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH). “I had heard that Shaukat Khanum treated cancer patients,” his mother recalls. “It didn’t make sense to be taking Inaam there. But I thought perhaps they had some good doctors who could help us.”

Inaam and his parents had to travel to Lahore to visit the hospital. They expected to stay a day and return home after he was diagnosed and prescribed the right medicine. But this would not be. “When the doctor came in to discuss his condition, I asked her what was wrong, even though I still believed it was just an upset stomach,” His mother recalls. “But she said it was cancer. I thought I didn’t understand her. So I asked again, and again she said cancer. Then she started telling us about a treatment plan, but I couldn’t comprehend anything beyond the word cancer. I started to cry. To us, cancer means death. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my youngest. The doctor held my hand and reassured me that Inaam could be treated.”

Inaam underwent chemotherapy. The long months of treatment were tough for him and for his family. But they all recall how helpful and supportive the hospital staff were. “The doctors, nurses and in fact everyone at the hospital helped us through it. And it felt like a dream that we didn’t have to pay a single rupee for the most modern treatment. We were told Inaam’s treatment had already been paid for by well-wishers and donors. Years ago, when Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital was being built, our town made a small charity contribution,” Inaam’s mother says. “When they cured my son, I saw the importance of what all those donations had achieved.”

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