Meet Shabana and Samuel

“When my son was young, he was a great student of English. We had high hopes for him to become a business man when he grew up. But after he began to suffer, we almost lost all hope.”

Shabana (above right) works on the paediatric oncology ward at Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Bangladesh, which is supported by World Child Cancer. But her connection to childhood cancer began long before her current role. Her son, Samuel (above left), developed cancer when he was a child over a decade ago and it was then that she first began working at the hospital. We met with Shabana and Samuel to hear their story and find out what life is like after cancer.

“When my son, Samuel, was a young boy he came down with a severe fever. We did our best to help him recover and visited our local doctor to try and find a solution.”

In low and middle income countries like Bangladesh, there is little awareness of childhood cancer even amongst healthcare professionals. This means children are often misdiagnosed or receive treatment too late, which can significantly reduce their chances of survival. World Child Cancer is changing this by training more healthcare professionals to spot the early warning signs of childhood cancer, giving children a faster route to a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

“Samuel had been suffering from a fever and, day by day, he was getting weaker and weaker. We did not understand what was happening to our son. We went to our local doctor who ran some blood tests and told us he had an issue with his blood. We feared the worst.”

Returning home with some medication, Shabnam says the family did all they could to help their son recover and return to school;

“After no change in his health we went elsewhere to try and find out what was wrong with our son.”

The family eventually reached Dhaka Shishu Hospital, it was here that they were told Samuel had cancer.

“We began to pray to help save our son from such a severe disease. I have a strong faith in Allah and believed he would help us in our moment of need.”

When asking Samuel about his hospital experience, he recalled a helpless time where he relied on his mother’s prayers and the work of the doctors and nurses to care for him;

“I remember feeling weak, so weak. When I first became unwell, I missed going to school. But as I began to suffer more and felt my body get skinnier, nothing else mattered anymore. I saw my mother praying to the Almighty and thankfully I have now been able to repay our faith.”

After finally receiving the treatment he desperately needed from the team at Dhaka Shishu Hospital, Samuel went on to make a full recovery and is now an Imam at a local mosque.

“Before my illness I had dreams of becoming a lawyer. But once I stopped going to school and falling ill, all I wanted to do was feel better. My mother and I prayed for my health. I am so happy to be given the opportunity to grow up and devote myself to Islam and my faith.”

Approximately 6,000 children will develop cancer in Bangladesh this year, yet just a fraction of these will ever receive an accurate diagnosis like Samuel. Despite his cancer, Samuel was one of the lucky ones. His mother’s determination meant he received an accurate diagnosis, was treated quickly and was given the gift of growing up.

“Watching someone suffer is so difficult, but to see your own son suffer is something no mother should have to do.”

You can help thousands of other children, like Samuel, in low and middle income countries, like Bangladesh, by donating today. World Child Cancer has helped to give over 20,000 children a faster route to better treatment and with your support, we can help even more. Donate today and your gift will be doubled by the UK government meaning your support goes twice as far.

“World Child Cancer helped us in so many ways. Without their help, I would not have been able to afford treatment or have enough money to send my other children to school.”