A painful Christmas … “My four-year-old has cancer,” a mother laments
By Romila Boodram
Christmas is the season of peace, love and joy when family members and friends reunite and loved ones create memories to last a lifetime.
As the Christmas season unfolds, there are many who are looking forward to going to church, attending parties, meeting with relatives or simply taking time off to enjoy a vacation. Children anxiously await today to receive gifts from their parents and loved ones.
For a family in the Ancient County of Berbice, the spirit of Christmas is understandably absent this year. The young parents who had made numerous plans for this joyful season recently found out that their only child, little Mahamaya, has brain cancer.
Four-year-old Mahamaya was a “normal” child only last month. She was very talkative, bold, brave, naughty and “very spoilt”, according to her mother, Simone Sahadeo.
A very concerned Sahadeo, after spending hours sitting next to her daughter in the hospital said that she once recalled when her daughter was “all happy and joyful”.
At the time of the interview recently, the little girl was hospitalised in the Pediatric Ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
The little girl was diagnosed with lymphoma – a cancer of the lymph system which is a part of the immune system and key in fighting off diseases.
Lymphoma cancer is considered “very serious” because it can spread throughout the body via the lymph vessels.
For better medical treatment, Mahamaya was supposed to go to Trinidad and Tobago to undergo surgery two weeks ago, since the necessary treatment is not available in Guyana. However, because the cancer has spread to her bones, she cannot travel and was forced to remain a patient at the GPHC.
A depressed Simone Sahadeo said that her family was making numerous preparations for the season. And as a norm for little girls, Mahamaya too wanted to enjoy her dolls and other gifts
“I got so many nice memories of her when she wasn’t showing this illness. Last year me and she went to the market and she tell me she want grapes so I buy it and give it to her and she start eat it right away so I told her that I will take her this year too, to the market, and I was so surprise when she ask me ‘and you’ll buy grapes for me again?’ I didn’t expect her to remember that,” the mother recalled with a smile.
Sahadeo said that she “had a perfect life and a great family”. She recalled when she and her husband found out that they were going to be parents, they were extremely happy.
“We were very happy and excited when we found out about the pregnancy,” Sahadeo recounted.
She added that she and her husband enjoyed every moment with their baby, especially watching her taking her first steps.
The mother recalled an incident which transpired on the first day her daughter attended school. Knowing that many little children would cry on their first day, Sahadeo said she decided to wait a little with her daughter at her school.
“After she didn’t see me leaving, she turned to me and say ‘mommy why you waiting, go home’ I had to laugh,” the mother said.
She claimed that their life took an unexpected turn on November 14, last, the day after Diwali.
With a drained expression, she explained that her daughter woke up the day after Diwali with a strange look in her face, “she look like she got cock-eye, so I think that she probably strained the left eye when she went to school the day before.”
Sahadeo recalled that she carried her daughter to an eye-specialist at the GPHC. There she was told that her daughter had to do a number of tests before a diagnosis was made.
“They do a set of tests and then they told me that she has a tumour at the back of her left eye and they say that they will admit her later and do surgery to remove the tumour but she will lose the eye. When I hear that I cried so much because my daughter would only have one eye,” Sahadeo lamented.
She said that she carried Mahamaya home, but when they reached, she got the biggest shock of her life. “Mahamaya started to vomit blood and the blood started pouring through her nose, so we rush her back again to GPHC.”
The mother said, this time, the four-year-old was sent to do a Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a number of tests were done on her again. She was then diagnosed with lymphoma .
Sahadeo said that when the doctor told her that her daughter has cancer, she sobbed incessantly.
“That day I felt like a dead; I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t even believe that my only daughter has cancer,” the mother said.
From the day Mahamaya was diagnosed with the cancer, she was admitted to the hospital’s Pediatric Ward where she remains under close watch.
The Sahadeo family plans to spend Christmas with little Mahamaya at the hospital.