Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 39, Tuesday April 5, 2005






Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre

Reaching out

It is not easy for any parents to watch their 17-year-old son, a handsome young man full of life and vigour, die in front of them.

It is not an easy task either to come to terms with this cruel truth or to understand why the Almighty chose him- your fine boy. In fact all these become even harder to fathom if cancer was the reason of this death.

Cancer as we all know is ruthless in its attack and in most cases, leaves no option other than sure death. No matter how much money you have or don't have, no matter how modern and sophisticated your hospital of choice is or method of treatment is, cancer picks lives when it strikes, leaving behind the anguished parents or loved ones to suffer the loss and mourn the shattered dreams of the lost one.

In fact Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre, a non-profit philanthropic organisation providing emotional support, information and practical help to cancer affected people, is a project of one such grieving father, who came to terms with his terrible loss by trying to fulfilling his son's dream of creating services and facilities in health for the needy and deprived people especially children.

"Mosabbir left us when he was 17. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and in spite of our best efforts we could not save our child. Our hearts bleed and I guess it will do so till the end of our lives but I could not let myself forget my beloved son's indomitable spirit even when he was in his death bed. It's his strength that gave me the willpower to set up this cancer care centre to help the poorest of the poor," says Lt. Col Mudassir Hossain Khan (retd) B.P, the bereaved father of Mosabbir.

The cancer situation in Bangladesh is extremely alarming. According to a conservative estimate, there are over one million cancer patients in Bangladesh and rising. There is only one government-run cancer hospital named National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital in Mohakhali, Dhaka.

There are two other cancer hospitals in the private sector, the Ahsania Mission Cancer Hospital and the Delta Oncology Centre. These hospitals provide diagnostic facilities and treatment in the form of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and re-constructive surgery. "Needless to say, with thousands of patients requiring treatment, counselling and rehabilitation, these hospitals along with their facilities are nothing but drops in the ocean," Khan emphasised.

Adding to it he said that child cancer is a greater curse in the socio-economic perspective of the country. More often than not, it destroys a family both socially and economically. Doctors strongly believe that with early and accurate diagnosis followed by proper treatment, 75 to 85 percent children could be completely cured. "It is therefore imperative that all resources available within and outside the country be geared to the fullest to meet the challenge posed to the whole nation by this dreadful disease," he mentioned.

Under the present circumstances- where scientific and technological advancement are undeniably laudable, if detected earlier in its attack the spread of cancer can be contained but the provision of relapsing is always there and unfortunately nothing can be done about it except suffer deeply for the loved one.

But this option of containing it at very early stage is only for people who can afford it. Frankly, be it for you, the well off upper class businessmen, well-paid executives in corporate offices, middle-class professionals; or them, the low income group, like the rickshaw-puller or the house help or even a rural government school teacher, the treatment costs are so high that not many can afford to continue it till the end.

There are people who can fly to India, Bangkok, or USA and avail state-of-art treatment facilities but then again there are people who travel in buses or trains or launches to the city hospitals and fall victims to dalals who do not even spare death when it comes to extortion.

The Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre helps the poor exactly in this regard. They provide assistance and advice in treatment for cancer afflicted patients. Free accommodation during treatment, special facilities for necessary diagnostic tests at nominal cost, specific assistance to patients in obtaining medicines at reduced prices. They provide assistance in blood collection and transfusion, in obtaining the advice of specialists in providing modern treatment. They provide appropriate information and advice relating to improved treatment at home and abroad. They create public awareness in the country on cancer prevention through electronic and print media.

This non-profit cancer care centre's main focus is to help the poorest of the poor in fighting the battle for survival. They have patients from all over the country who are attached to hospitals in the city but stay at this centre during the time of the treatment.

Take for instance Sumaiya's case. She is a five-year-old battling with leukaemia and she came all the way from Beani Bazar Sylhet for her treatment. They have no one here in Dhaka with whom they can stay during the time of the treatment and this centre became their refuge. The house help who works shifts in house lost everything: her jobs, their small cigarette shop, her husband's support, when her eldest son became ill with cancer. When the city hospitals told her about this centre, she was relieved because she not only could keep her son there while she worked but was certain that she could at least continue the treatment suggested by the doctors.

One of the important routine jobs that this centre does is when a detected cancer patient drops in at their centre from Mokhakhali hospital or Ahsania or PG, they follow up their case, administer the consultant's prescribed medicine, apply chemotherapy to those who cannot afford it or arrange for it, and even buy the medicines for the extremely poor.

If you take a moment to actually think what Mosabbir Cancer Care Centre is doing for the poor cancer patients you will agree unanimously that they in fact are doing an angel's job in Bangladesh. But this philanthropic effort also needs support from people like you who can afford to make contribution in whatever way possible to this centre so that they can continue to help the poor and the needy. So next time you think of making any contribution even in the form of zakat, think about the poor terminally ill cancer patients like five year old Sumaiya and come forward to help this cancer care centre to do its commendable job.

By Raffat Binte Rashid


Reader's Chit

Fairy Tale

"Look at the ugly, harsh …frumpy face", I uttered inwardly while gazing at myself in the mirror, "How could someone be so bad looking as me?", I thought. None of my siblings are as ugly as me. How could I have come out of blue with this weird, unattractive appearance? Nobody ever looks at me for the second time. I can rarely make friends. Does only appearance matter? Am I not a good person? Then what is wrong with people around me? What do they look for? Only good looks and attractive figures. When I pass along the corridor I can figure out people's indifference towards me. Nature has made it natural that a girl of my age with such monstrous looks is to be ignored. The mind and skill actually doesn't matter much except when people are to take some advantage from you; otherwise all that matters is immaculate skin with an alluring body.

My mother seems to be too worried about the fact that I may not be able to get married soon or find a good looking guy or may never have the taste of having an affair, so she always shows excessive emotion towards me as an act of kindness and to mitigate my feelings. But the result is rather negative. It weakens me, making me feel that I am different and unacceptable with the LOOK.

When it's party time, my sisters get dressed and put makeup and they look gorgeous. I try to accept my physical confines and so go back to studying rather than joining them. It's not that I never tried to lead a simple life and I am giving up so easily, I tried to mix with others, tried to enjoy and end up with disparaged and disheartened by others. So, I gave up now and trying to lead a life in my own way.

I was preparing to get sleep and behind my head some philosophical thoughts were taking place - Life has taught me the cruelties, an ugly girl can hardly expect to live gregariously or get involved in an unconditionally heavenly affair. So for them life is sere and sober. I burrow under the covers and wonder if I ever had the magic lamp, the threes thing I would have asked for would be beauty, Beauty and BEAUTY.

The alarm rang and I woke up, toddled towards the bathroom, took the brush and as usual give a nonchalant look at the mirror. "What the hell…?", I speak out loudly. My appearance has completely turned into that of a suave lady. "Wow! I completely look like Madhuri Dixit". I couldn't believe my eyes.

The alarm rang for the second time; I opened my eyes and discovered myself in the bed. I briskly rushed toward the mirror and found the same ugly appearance….I burst out crying for the cruelty of the creator who could make the dream reality. But unfortunately, it is not a fairy tale; it is the 3rd planet of the solar system, where cruelty is a frequent occurrence of everyday matters.

By Lipna Chowdhury


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