Meet Muna & Babesh
Babesh is a five-year-old boy receiving treatment for stage four neuroblastoma in Kathmandu, Nepal. His family’s home is in Itahari, nine hours by car from Kathmandu. After Babesh was diagnosed, he and his mother Muna moved to a small apartment in Kathmandu so that he could receive treatment. His father works abroad to support the family and pay for Babesh’s treatment.
What Muna and Babesh’s story teaches us
When Babesh was diagnosed with cancer, treatment was not available near their hometown of Itahari in eastern Nepal. Following Babesh’s diagnosis, Muna and Babesh were referred to two hospitals in Kathmandu – one for cancer treatment, and another for surgery. Although Babesh’s family receives some financial aid from the hospitals, they are responsible for most of the costs, including rent for a tiny apartment close to the hospital so that they can easily access care.
Muna’s husband sends money home as frequently as possible, but his salary is not enough to cover all the costs of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and travel and living expenses. “Even if we sold our house,” Muna says, “we would not get enough money to pay for treatment. So, I have had to take a lot of loans to pay for everything.” In less than a year since Babesh’s diagnosis, the family has accumulated nearly $5,000 in debt, significantly more than her husband earns in a year.
Muna sits with Babesh during chemotherapy treatments and helps ensure his other medicines are taken on time. She also prepares nutritious food to help him feel better and get stronger and cares for Babesh as he deals with the side effects of treatment. The treatment Babesh has endured has affected his behavior, appetite, and energy levels. He has been unable to attend school while he has been ill.
In spite of the challenges Muna is facing, she is looking forward to the time when she can take Babesh back home so that he can go to school and play with his friends. Until then, she remains focused on his recovery.
To learn more about Muna and Babesh, see the NCD Roundtable profile on their story.