Food Heals and forms everlasting bonds

After two failed attempts at removing a tumor, Sachin (name altered)*, a four-year-old boy, traveled from Kolkata to Mumbai, a distance of more than 2000 km.

His parents spent all of their savings to get to Mumbai and save Sachin, who had a rare form of cancer in his oral cavity known as Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Sachin was unable to chew due to the unbearable pain. He almost stopped eating. When Cuddles Nutritionist Khadiija weighed him, it was no wonder that he was severely undernourished.

On arrival, doctors were alarmed by the condition of the patient and began feeding him via the Ryles tube. This bypasses his mouth through his nose in order to reach his stomach.

Sachin’s daily-wage worker father had no money for a room to rent in an expensive city such as Mumbai. The hospital took over and provided shelter for the family. Sachin’s dad could not feed his family without work. Khadija began rationing them monthly under our Food Heals Program in order to ensure Sachin’s nutritional needs were met and that his parents did not go hungry.

Two months later, the doctors told the nutritionist Sachin needed to gain weight in order to be prepared for his third operation. The child was unable to chew food and only just started eating through a tube. Khadija, a Cuddles Nutritionist, provided intensive nutrition counseling to Sachin’s mom to encourage her to prepare healthy meals using the rations, to use supplements, to feed him ghee, and to increase his weight gradually.

Khadija’s devotion to Sachin created a special bond with the family, who trusted her advice throughout the treatment. Sachin now calls her Pishi, which is Bengali for “paternal uncle.” She was the one who gave him his crayons and coloring books.

Sachin gained three 3 kilos in six months! Sachin returned to Bengal after a year. The tumor was successfully removed, and he is now on maintenance. Sachin is also back in school. When he is not at school, he plays with his little sister.

Sachin’s mom has benefited from nutrition. She monitors Sachin’s weight regularly and does not let it fall. She understands the importance of nutrition in Sachin’s recovery and surgery. Pishi Khadija, Sachin’s wife, who lives 2000 km away, makes sure to call and check on him.

The doctors and nutritionists at Cuddles worked together to treat and care for Sachin so that he could return to being the naughty little boy he was.

*The patient’s identity has been changed to protect their privacy. The image used is only for illustration purposes.

The money that was left after selling the only land her family owned to repay loans could only buy them food for 15-16 days per month. Her father was often on construction sites, and her mother worked in roadside tiffin centers. She would work until evening cleaning vessels and then return home to bring Nila’s 10-year-old younger brother leftovers. Nila’s family survived on this one meal per evening for part of a month before her diagnosis. Her family falls under the category of food insecurity.

When food insecurity occurs, a person cannot afford to eat enough healthy food.

India was ranked 101st out of 116 nations in the 2021 Global Hunger Index Report, as it continues to suffer from poverty, food security, and malnutrition. The State of India’s Environment Report for 2022 estimates that healthy diets are out of reach for over 70% of Indians.

Malnutrition is more likely to occur when food insecurity leads to poor food choices. Primary acute malnutrition is a form of malnutrition that occurs when there is an inadequate supply of food due to social, economic, and environmental factors. It manifests in the form of wasting.


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