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Spirited, Smiling Young Warriors Take on Cancer

New Delhi: Dressed in colourful attire and frolicking to their heart's content, brave young hearts battling cancer and those who have survived came together here Thursday to// send the message - the disease is curable.

The occasion being celebrated at the National Stadium was International Child Cancer Day.

Prabhasimran Anand, a bubbly eight-year-old, who is still battling the big C said while playing with balloons: "I am fighting blood cancer. I also go to school and am in Class 1."

One hundred and fifty schools from Delhi participated in the daylong function, which included games, a rock band performance and a cycle relay extravaganza to salute the young warriors.

The children also took part in a "Taklu Takli March Past", calling it so because 'takla' means baldness, which could be one of the side effects of cancer treatment but which the child patients were not ashamed of.

More than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in India and while 70-90 percent cases are completely curable, the fact remains that due to lack of awareness, late diagnosis and expensive treatment, almost 80 percent children do not survive.

To help turn the tide, a separate branch of the Indian Cancer Society was formed three years ago and was christened Cankids...Kidscan. And it was this group that organised the function.

Poonam Bagai, president of the society and a cancer survivor herself, said: "We are a family support group which gives financial and emotional support to the child suffering from cancer and his family.

"We also support the child in pursuing his education. Most of the families that come to us are from the economically weaker section of the society."

Jyoti Joon, 16, who hails from a village in Haryana, was shocked when she discovered two years ago that she had leukemia, a type of blood cancer. "I was depressed. I thought I would die.

"But whe n my grandmother brought me to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), we came across the Cankids group. They not only assisted my family in financing my treatment but also helped me go back to my studies," she smiles.

Today Jyoti is completely cured and is in her first year of graduation.

The Cankids group has adopted 650 kids to provide them medical assistance in various hospitals like AIIMS and Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital (IRCH) in the capital.

They are also helping 170 children, who are battling cancer or are cancer survivors, in their educational endeavor for a minimum of five years.

Rattan Watal, director of the Sports Authority of India, also announced that free coaching would be provided to the children in the stadium in any sport they excel in.


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