Hope, Strength, and Healing for families coping with a child cancer diagnosis

Manav ~ Keaton’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Ambassador

Meet Manav. A sweet 5 year old that enjoys riding his bike and playing outside! Manav began his journey in June of 2018 after being diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common type of pediatric cancer that affects B-Cells in one’s immune system. Since his diagnosis, Manav has been such a strong kiddo and has powered through years of treatment. Manav joined our Keaton’s family shortly after he was diagnosed in 2018 and after our first connection; we were happy to support his family with a financial grant and provided the joy-filled experience of a Hope Chest.

Over the past couple of years, we are pleased to share that we have kept in contact with Manav’s parents. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided nutritional aid and supplied Manav’s family and other Keaton’s families with Raley’s Grocery Donations which were hand-delivered to their home.  More recently, our Family Navigator Team has been of emotional support to Manav’s family as they experienced some personal hardships. Through resources and advocacy, we were able to make great connections and partner with other community organizations to ensure security and stability as they endured an overwhelming time.

At the time of his diagnosis, Manav was a single kiddo. He recently welcomed his baby sister and is now an awesome big brother! Our team had the opportunity to meet with sweet Manav and his sister at our recent Funderland event. As he prepared to go back to school, our team supported his education by providing him with a backpack and school supplies! Manav finished his final treatment on August 8th, 2021. He is now going back to in person school and is enjoying being a kid! With his mom and dad by his side every step of the way, Manav and his family has managed to overcome many obstacles. We are very happy to be a part of his journey and look forward to seeing how much this bright young kiddo continues to grow and overcome!

“Manav has always been an active kid however during the summer of 2018 his energy level was always down. He liked to sit in the sun even on hot days. He keeps on asking his mom to carry him. Along with that he kept on having intermittent low grade fever. When he got fever the 3rd time we took him to his pediatrician and she suspected something and ordered blood work with the same day result. When the result came out his Hemoglobin was 2.3 and the doctor has asked us to have him admitted immediately. Next day our little world was completely shattered when doctors told us that Manav has ALL.

It was the most difficult time for my family and I didn’t know what to do. Shall I continue his treatment which would go on for the next 3 years here in Sacramento or I should take him to St Judes where he can get the best treatment and it will be for free. At that time Dr. Meera Noona (Manav’s Pediatrician) and Dr Hsu helped us to make the right decision. They educated us about the treatment, and they said that it is going to be the same in entire America. 3 years is a very long time and it will be good to stay in Sacramento with the family.

Hence I decided to stay in Sacramento where I had my job, friends and either support system. During Manav’s entire treatment everybody has helped me including all my friends, Social workers Mariala and Ann NGOs like Keaton’s, Leukemia and lymphoma society, Okizu, B positive foundation, Pinky Swear, Hattie’s house to name a few. Help varied from financial help, emotional support, outing tickets, temporary housing etc.

I am thankful to Manav’s care team Dr. Yim, Dr. Hsu and Dr. Lee. Clinic nurses Mellissa, Sherry and Claire. They cared for my son like a family. Manav had a very tough 2019 and he was hospitalized very often that year. All the inpatient nurses made sure that he feels like home at the hospital. They made sure that we would get the bigger room if we had to stay longer. They made sure that Manav has a lot of toys and activities to be engaged in. They gave us all the time and attention Manav and we needed. Everybody at the hospital was so nice that Manav liked to go to the hospital.

My friends made sure we don’t miss our family and their support. They helped us in every possible way they could.

2020 brought all-new challenges for us as due to Covid my immigration paperwork was delayed and I had to lose my job. At that difficult time, Dr. Yim made sure that Manav’s treatment doesn’t get hampered due to the discontinuation of healthcare coverage. Keaton’s had a great program called the Family Navigator program. The Family Navigator program helped me in every possible way they could. The Family Navigator program and Mariela helped me find temporary housing when we needed it the most. All the people (Jasmine, April) in the program really understand the family’s problem and try to find the solution of those problems by all means they have.

One thing I want to say to the family who is undergoing this situation is to have faith in God and be strong. Initially, it seems like an uphill journey however this tough time will pass. When God gives you a big problem, he counters by proving a good support system around you. You will meet a lot of good people during this entire journey. Time will fly by and one day your brave child will defeat this disease. “

~ Manav’s Dad

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