Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Five-year-old Bùi Thị Hồng Ngọc smiles and chats to her grandmother just like any other child of her age would do.
The only difference here is little Ngoc, of Tân Yên B Village in the central province of Nghệ An, is talking to her grandmother at the Hà Nội-based National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion where she is treated every day for cancer.
“Do you know what disease you’ve got?” her mother, Bùi Thị Chính asks.
“Yes,” her daughter replies. “It’s blood cancer.”
The child may well be smart enough to know what her illness is called, but she’s still a little small to understand how dangerous the disease is, and how much harm it is doing to her tiny body.
Ngọc was diagnosed with leukaemia two years ago. Symptoms included fever, jaundice, tiredness, and anorexia.
“Our family was very worried,” her mother said. “We quickly took her to the hospital. The day we found out it was blood cancer, we stopped seeing any hope and all became very depressed.”
Chính said the fight against the disease officially started while Chính and her mother took Ngọc on a bus route from Nghệ An to Hà Nội, a seven-hour journey, for treatment.
It usually takes Ngọc at least one month, sometimes, nearly two months, for each session at the hospital.
It is normal for her to receive fluid transfusions from about 20-25 bottles daily.
After each treatment, doctors would allow Ngọc to return home about 20 days, Chính said.
Ngọc rarely said she feels any pain. Whenever she does, all she says is: “Mom, take me to the hospital.”
And when mum and grandmother can’t hold back their emotions, it’s Ngọc whose strength shines through.
“She often says, mom, grandmother, don’t cry,” Chính said.
The medical expense is also a burden for Ngọc’s family.
Chính said although the health insurance agency already paid a part of the medical expense, Chính still had to pay VNĐ200 million (US$8,800) for Ngọc’s treatment over almost two years.
It is the reason Ngọc’s father, who works in Germany, could not give up the job to return to the country to take care of her.
He had to stay there to earn money for the treatment, Chính added.
“If he does not, we have no way to earn enough money to cover the medical expense,” she said.
Chính said the fight against the disease became more severe because her husband could not stay by her side.
“I sometimes do not know what to do and I live in fear,” she said.
“But after all, Ngọc’s smile makes me stronger,” she said.
Phạm Thu Thủy, a doctor from the hospital said Ngọc had been treated there for a long time but her health condition did not show many positive signs as expected.
"The pain that blood cancer could cause is overwhelming for a child but Ngọc rarely complains,” Thủy said.
It is estimated that more than 100 children are currently being treated in hospital with leukaemia.
The five-year-old little girl, who has spent all her day and night to fight against cancer, just has a little dream – coming back to her kindergarten school to learn dance and draw just like children her age are doing all over the world. — VNS