A Visit to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre

Posted on August 4, 2013



As I walked in, a boy about 18 years old was the very first sign, which welcomed me, he had one good leg. He was wearing a hat to cover his hairless skull, tan skin, the medicine had done its work.

Today it looked different, no kids with one good eye, no patients with wrapped eyes, few hairless skulls, a few brutally tan faces, desolate seating, a few staff walking around. At this very moment a voice has attracted my hearing. A pashton was talking to another man, he was actually waiting for the doctor. His little son’s today’s injection reacted, smoldering him to 103° F. His mother had wrapped him in her shroud; her arms tied arms around him. With the size of the package I imagined him of not more than 5 years.

shaukatHis father was telling the person expenses that may or may have incurred on the treatment, “kehte hain chalis lakh tak ay ga” (They say it would cost Rs. 4 million). Those were the words which took my hearing, whole portrait get portrayed before me, images walked in the subconscious. They were certainly not in position to afford the treatment and most probably the trust was supporting. He told that kid’s liver had tumor, and malignancy is now in the spine. His chemotherapy course was over and he is on periodical injection course. Father was not satisfied with the treatment; his kid’s health was not prospering. In the mean time, he was called in by the staff. When the mother unveiled the son, to my surprise he was of about 8-10 years. Now I realized why he has easily couched in his mother’s lap. Hairless skull, brutally tan skin, cane thin legs and feeble body, his father took him in arms and walked into the bay. I glanced at the mother who was some how staring at me, her eyes deep, sad, unsatisfied, wishing and praying for some miracle to happen, wishing an angel may land and take the malignancy, wishing if she had it in her power, if her will would matter. Wishing if time may go back to the second malignancy grew in her son and if she could take it for hers, wishing if time had stopped at those peaceful lullaby nights. Some hope, some fear, some contentment dwelled in them. Leaning her with the will of God. The father must have similar emotions, but I didn’t dare to gaze another mourning soul. Maybe I am that impassive to see, the medicine may quench the fever, what about the treatment which requires four million and what if……………………?

On my left a girl and a boy were circling around a pillar, maybe they don’t even know, why they were here at this hour of night, unaware of the facts these marbles bear at days. A place which gives a new hope to someone and takes away someone else’s. A pile of ‘quarterly newsletters’ rested on my right table. A ‘success story’ is its front page, I wished if their success story may become a part of some ‘quarterly newsletter’ some day.

It is one of 150 thousand victims of cancer which arise in Pakistan every year. SKMCH & RC was founded on 27th Dec 1994; it spreads over area of 20 acres. It has 1200 staff including 40 Consultant Physicians & Surgeons with 115 beds. Since 1994 it has provided 70% of its patients free treatment, with annual budget of Rs. 2 billion. SKMT is now planning eleven storied clinical building which will cost Rs. 350 million, it will not only double the capacity but will also facilitate patients with more sophisticated medical treatment. Karachi diagnostic centre is also under development which is Rs. 120 million project.

While walking in the premises one may observe that the craftsmen have spent hours analyzing and interpreting needs, each inch of the building speaks the devotion of the workers and the team. From junior staff to top management each personnel is cooperative and helpful, yet polite, humble and down to earth. They don’t even get annoyed with repeated eejit questions and guide to the respective ends. Their strength to stress is exemplary.

It’s easy to say, think and imagine in being a state of some deadly disease, being related to it is some what a harsh agony, suffering from it is something no one can elucidate unless he does n’t pass through it himself. The particular feeling is unexplainable, maybe a patient losses his senses from what he is suffering through. Anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, nausea, vomiting, mucositis, loss of appetite, alopecia, skin problems, diarrhea, constipation are the major side effects; a patient has to bear through.

‘Whatever we are suffering from is result of what our hands have sent………’

An incident ordinary for people impinged something in me. Certainly it is more than a mere feeling. If it didn’t make me act, it did make me think.

Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre is a state-of-the-art non-profit cancer research centre and hospital located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The trust is building a second hospital in Peshawer, Pakistan. For which they need to raise Rs. 2 billion, for a cause giving hope and life to people who actually could not afford it. Please follow the link to be a part of a great life giving cause. Donate for Shaukat Khanum Memorial.

Glossary:
SKMCH & RC – Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre.
SKMT – Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust
Anemia – low hemoglobin
Neutropenia – low neutrophils (white blood cells) count
Thrombocytopenia – low platelet count
Mucositis – ulceration on mouth and throat lining
Alopecia – loss of hair