Sports fest at Tata Memorial for Children with Cancer in Mumbai, happiness Surrounds

According to Nandini Save of the Duhita Foundation, they would select kids who could play sports at the district, state, and national levels.

A sunny Thursday afternoon finds cheerful pediatric cancer survivors receiving coaching in chess, table tennis, carrom, and six other games in the doctors’ dining room of Tata Memorial Hospital’s (TMH) Golden Jubilee building in Parel. They are some of the around 250 pediatric cancer survivors from the eight hospitals in the city that will take part in Nabhaangan 2024, TMH’s inaugural sports festival for cancer patients, which takes place this weekend at the Andheri Sports Complex.

“We started encouraging cancer survivors to participate in sporting activities and would send them to the World Children’s Winners’ Games in Russia six years ago,” stated Shalini Jatia, officer-in-charge of TMH’s ImPaCCT Foundation. This was done as part of the paediatric oncology department’s After Completion of Therapy (ACT) clinic and survivorship program. “Since then, over sixty kids have taken an interest in sports, with a few of them pursuing it seriously.” In order to include more children in Nabhaangan—rather than only a small number of cancer survivors—TMC and the non-governmental organization Duhita Foundation came up with the idea after the Covid-19 epidemic stopped shipping children overseas.

Different Sports for Kids with Cancer

According to Jatia, the word “nabhaangan” is Sanskrit for “the courtyard of the sky.” “We want the children who have survived cancer to soar to the stars and shine brightly. The mood among our patients and in our department has shifted from one of treatment to exhilaration ever since we announced the sports fest. The 250 participants will compete in rifle shooting, relay races, table tennis, swimming, chess, and badminton. They are pediatric cancer survivors, patients on maintenance chemotherapy, and thalassemia patients following a transplant.

Mubasshra Khan looks radiant as she watches her kid being tutored in table tennis from one corner of the TMH dining area. The mother of an Ahmednagar resident whose son is receiving treatment at the municipally run LTMG Sion Hospital remarked, “I have never seen my son as happy and excited in the last ten months of his blood cancer treatment journey.” He’ll have his first chemotherapy treatment on April 12 and his last one a week later. He used to be really grumpy and begged to go home all the time. But I saw how delighted he was when I brought him to TMH for rehearsals and registered him for Nabhaangan. He desires to take part in all sports.

Twelve-year-old cancer survivor Yatharth Pathak announced he would be taking part in the 100-meter sprint, football, chess, and the 400-meter relay all excite people equally. “I am excited to compete and confident that I will win as well,” he remarked.

According to Dr. Shripad Banavali, TMC’s director of academics, gaming and physical exercise are good ways to boost immunity, which in turn helps prevent cancer. “At Tata Hospital, we’re not just focused on the treatment aspect; we also want to help patients live better lives,” he stated. According to Dr. Banavali, TMH sees about 4,000 new pediatric patients a year. “The survival rate has reached an impressive 80 percent thanks to advancements in paediatric cancer treatment,” he stated. “We are guiding the survivors toward the opportunity to lead a normal life by introducing them to sporting activities.”

According to Nandini Save (49), of the Duhita Foundation, which coaches young cancer patients in sports and works with them, they will select kids for the festival based on their potential to play sports at the district, state, and national levels. Save lost her 12-year-old daughter Duhita to cancer. She claimed to have witnessed the benefits of sports therapy throughout her daughter’s treatment.

She said, “In 2014, we lost her.” Her aim was to travel to Russia and take part in the Olympics. We have since assisted young cancer patients with a variety of sports-related activities. We have brought in coaches to help the participants over the previous two days. The kids are in here from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Their confidence will be boosted by sports and the festival.

Although they had limited the number of attendees to 250, Jatia stated that they intended to organize the festival at the national level the next year. She declared, “This will be a test run before a bigger tournament next year.” “It will genuinely be on the lines of the World Winners Children Games in Russia, with participation from hospitals across the nation.”

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