Shubham Pandey, 7, a blood cancer patient, tore off his mask on Friday and asked his mother for goggles and a handkerchief. As the Salman Khan song Dhinkachika blared in the auditorium of Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Parel, Shubham wanted to ape the actor's dance steps.
Shubham was diagnosed with leukemia in July and has been in and out of Tata Memorial Hospital since then. "He is very excited about this dance," said his mother, Kanchan. About 100 children including cancer patients and survivors will stage Hope 2011 on Saturday, Christmas Eve. The programme will showcase the children's dance, photography, painting, drama and drumming abilities and include performances by actor Johnny Lever and Shiamak Davar's dance group.
"This year, the theme of Hope is freedom. This is a chance for children to express themselves and provides a distraction from the daily hospital routine," said Dr Tushar Vora, assistant professor, pediatric oncology, TMH.
"All these years, we were only focusing on the children's treatment. Now we are able to cure 70% of our patients. We decided to have various programmes like Hope to recharge their batteries," said Dr Shripad Banavali, the head of pediatric oncology at TMH.
For Amey Kadam, a freelance documentary photographer who conducted a photography workshop with 11 children, the experience was an eye-opener. "Their (children's) photography is very pure. I asked them to shoot how they view themselves. A child photographed a room with a child in bed, with his mother and father on the side looking forlorn," said Kadam.
"This kind of exercise also builds confidence in children," said Bhavisha Sanadhya, general manager-development from St Jude India Childcare Centres, where many out-station patients stay during treatment.
Sanadhya cited the example of Wasim Ansari, a cancer survivor who would not look people in the eye, but now belts out dialogues from Sholay for the skit prepared for the programme.
Vaibhav Shinde, 20, underwent treatment for leukemia for over three years in TMH, but had a relapse this year. He was part of the photography workshop. "During these workshops, I forgot about treatment and just enjoyed myself," said Shinde.