As many in the KnowTheGlow community have come to learn, it is vitally important that you have a strong support system around you when you have a child that has been given a difficult diagnosis. Thanks to the support and compassion of Farheen Qureshi, many parents of children with Retinoblastoma in Mumbai came together in the chemotherapy ward to form relationships side-by-side, not knowing what the next step in their child’s treatment plan would be. Farheen has been a support to so many of these parents, particularly the mothers. Farheen credits her own mother for giving her the courage to be strong for her family.
Farheen shared her glow story with Megan Webber, Co-Founder of KnowTheGlow. When her daughter, Fariha, was a year old she noticed a glow in her young child’s eye and took her to see the doctor. The doctors kept saying that it wasn’t anything and that it was just dust; and since Farheen had allergies herself, she trusted their diagnosis and used the drops that the doctor prescribed for Fariha. Each month she would go back to the doctor as the eye was not improving and the doctor’s answer was to change the drops. Finally, Farheen felt something was not right and took her daughter to an eye specialist who in turn told her that she needs to take Fariha immediately to SRCC Children’s Hospital in Mumbai. Dr. Himika Gupta (https://knowtheglow.org/dr-himika-gupta/ ) told Farheen that Fariha could not see, which was hard for Farheen to believe since she was always crawling all over the place without difficulty or noticeable vision impairment. Dr. Gupta made sure that Farheen knew that any financial hardships they faced would not prevent Fariha from the proper treatment and that whatever needed to be done, they would do for Fariha. Farheen vowed to herself that if Fariha needed to lose her eye, so what? As long as Fariha was still with them, that was all that mattered.
Her older son (5 years old) had such a hard time understanding what was happening to his little sister and had many questions for which Farheen had no answers.
After 12 cycles of chemotherapy (Fariha finished her last cycle 2 years ago in 2019), she began physical therapy exercises to regain her coordination. Without the love and support of Farheen and the rest of the family, they could never have managed the entire medical ordeal. In September she will have completed five years of treatment. Today Fariha is trying to make sentences. She likes to dance and listen to music. Last month she even started to ride a bicycle—all activities under the tutelage of her protective and sweet brother, Muzakir who has taught her everything!
Still, there remain certain obstacles ahead for Fariha. She is still not in school since there is only a boys’ school nearby. The girls’ special school is too far away from the house and Farheen doesn’t have anyone to look after her son. Farheen is homeschooling her for now until a better option presents itself. She loves to write so Farheen has spent considerable time over COVID working with her and has hopes that one day she will even learn braille. KnowTheGlow pays tribute to young Fariha’s tenacity to keep taking on new challenges and to her mother Farheen who guides her and the many other Retinoblastoma parents around her who see Farheen as a shining example and a beacon of hope.