‘Baby P asked for a purple cycle. Is there any way we can get her one?’
This was the question on the minds of the doctor, nurse, and counselor of the children’s palliative care department at MNJ hospital in Hyderabad last month. P was a 12 year old child with leukemia on chemotherapy since a couple of months.
We first met P during a play hour session for all the children in the cancer ward. She danced to a popular Telugu film song and she looked just like any other healthy child, only more brave and lively. She showed us the true measure of her bravery when she started losing her liveliness.
A couple of weeks after that dance we got a referral from pediatric oncology to see P for generalized body pain. She was in severe pain, confined to her bed, and her face had swollen up so we barely recognized her. She talked in a soft voice, telling us about her plans to re-write the school exams she was missing. Her mother started crying because the oncologist had told her that P wasn’t doing well.
Her blood cell counts were showing a downward trend. Over the next week P got worse. She was passing blood in her urine and vomiting several times a day. When we saw her one morning, she asked us for a purple cycle. ‘But, P , will you be able to ride a cycle now?’ ‘I will get better soon, and then I will ride the cycle.’ P’s cancer was diagnosed to be relapsed and beyond cure and we realized that her purple cycle was something like a last wish.
We approached the funds committee of the Pain Relief and Palliative Care Society with our proposal the same day. P was now bed bound and we knew she would most probably never be able to ride that cycle, but that didn’t stop any of us. By the next day we had found a second hand pink cycle online and purchased it. We brought the cycle to her bedside and she reached out with her hand and grabbed the handle.
One morning, P passed away two days later in her sleep with the cycle by her side