A four-year-old Pakistani boy who could not walk due to cancer has got a new lease of life after Dubai’s Al Jalila Foundation helped his parents with a fund to meet his advanced treatment expenses.
It was in December 2019 that Esa, then aged one, had suddenly stopped walking. The only child of his parents, he had just moved to Dubai with them.
“Amidst our settling down here in Dubai, one day our child woke up with unusual behaviour,” Esa’s mother Rabia told Gulf News.
“He had been a very active kid since his birth. He just could not walk,” she said.
Esa was then taken to the doctor and a series of tests, including a brain and spine MRI, was recommended.
“Our mind was not ready to accept it, but we took a deep breath and agreed on proceeding with the doctor’s recommendations. We had no family and friends in this foreign land, we were heart-wrenched and emotionally drained. We took a decision to go back to our home country where our families could be by our side,” said Rabia.
Soon after they arrived in their country, the child underwent brain MRI and he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a paediatric solid tumour.
The shocking diagnosis coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and the international travel ban, due to which Esa and Rabia were unable to return to the UAE.
Esa’s parents pushed for his treatment in Pakistan and thankfully he was able to start chemotherapy, surgery for the tumour removal and radiation. “With Allah’s help, our little body endured all these pains,” Rabia said.
However, Esa still required ongoing treatment including an oral chemotherapy drug. As soon as the flight ban was lifted, they returned to the UAE.
“We managed to find a paediatric oncologist who would take his case forward. But we had enormous challenges waiting for us. My husband, who is a chemist, was on salary cut due to COVID-19, and all our savings were already invested in our child’s treatment. I was jobless.”
The family then reached out to Al Jalila Foundation for support after getting to know about it from a friend.
“We were almost on the verge of breaking down by then. I first emailed them about my concerns. I received a prompt and a positive response from a foundation member. Their team was very generous and enquired from us the detailed case history of our child. It was very hard for us to pay the expenses of his medicine, bimonthly MRI, and fortnightly laboratory tests. But by the grace of the Almighty, Al Jalila Foundation helped us out,” said Rabia.
A’awen patient treatment programme
Thanks to the support from the A’awen programme of the foundation, Esa was able to receive the remaining treatment he so desperately needed. Today, Esa’s condition has significantly improved, and the young boy is in good health.
“He can walk and run around. He was so cheerful and participated in the ‘superhero’ event organised by the foundation for children undergoing treatment,” said Rabia.
She profoundly thanked the foundation for the life-changing support for her son.
“We, as a family, have no words to thank this great organisation. Of course, it goes without saying that it is because of the benevolence of the leaders of this country that such programmes have been initiated to support not only the citizens, but also the expatriates. No wonder expatriates love this land,” added Rabia, who has now got a job as a teacher in Dubai.
Help for young cancer patients
Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, pointed out that every three minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer around the world, according to the World Health Organisation.
“It is heartbreaking to imagine children suffering from cancer and at Al Jalila Foundation, we are dedicated to helping young cancer patients whose families are unable to afford life-saving treatment. Through the generosity and support of our partners and the wider community, we are able to give children like Esa a second chance,” he said.
“Every day, we witness the culture of giving that is embedded in our nation’s DNA – something that we are very proud to be part of. Nothing gives us greater joy than to see a child beat cancer and grow up healthy and strong after successful treatment. This makes our job rewarding,” Dr Abdulkareem added.
Note: Esa’s story was published by Gulf News on 26 September 2022.