These were the words spoken by 13-year-old Adil when we met him on the childhood cancer ward at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in Bangladesh. This was a teenager openly saying that he knew there was a 20% chance that he would not survive his cancer and yet he still had a smile on his face and told us about his hopes for the future.
Around him were children crying, mothers caring for their sick children and overworked nurses trying their best to care for the patients on the busy ward. But Adil still lights up when talking about his favourite footballer.
The conversation is a reminder that despite his cancer, Adil is no different from the millions of other teenagers around the world who idolise their favourite footballer. However, with a drip feeding into his hand and his lack of hair showing the effects of chemo, his life is currently very different to that of his friends at school.
Conditions at the hospital are very challenging for the doctors and nurses involved in caring for the children. Families are forced to sleep in corridors, on stairwells and in the grounds of the hospital. There simply are not enough members of staff to deal with the number of children in need of care and support.
World Child Cancer’s appeal to ‘Give the Gift of Growing Up’ aims to give children with cancer, just like Adil, hope for the future. His mother, Shusmita, says she used to want her son to study hard and earn a scholarship for university, but she now just hopes she can see her son survive his cancer and go back to his normal life. However, Adil has bigger plans.
All children have dreams and aspirations of what they want to be when they grow up. By donating today, you can help give children like Adil the Gift of Growing Up. Over 300,000 children will develop cancer this year and most of them will live in developing countries, like Bangladesh, where as few as one in ten survive compared to over eight in ten in developed countries.
With your support we can change this for the better. By training more healthcare professionals, supporting families through treatment and raising awareness of childhood cancer, we can give more children the opportunity to have the futures they deserve.