Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Triumphant without sight! The inspiring story of Bhakti Ghatole

Little Bhakti is the epitome of an achiever, the role model for all youngsters.  Despite her visual challenge, she adapted and adopted various life skills and tools to deal with her loss.  Three cheers to the topper in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) 10th Class Examination 2012 in Maharashtra! Bhakti attributes her success to the mountain of strength - her mother Sushma Ghatole, who ensured she learnt to read and write in Braille and use JAWS software - the two languages that the blind swear by. Sushma recorded her text books in Abrar mobile audio software in Marati and Hindi, accompanied her every evening to three tuitions in Sanskrit, Mathematics and English, and saw her through 26 chemotherapies, laser and cryotherapy treatments and two radiation therapy treatments. This is not an easy commitment and only a mother can execute all these tasks without a sigh or complaint.

Bhakti was diagnosed with retinoblastoma as a six month old baby. Her left eye had to be immediately removed to save her life. Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that afflicts children below three years of age, at an age when the retina is still not fully developed. The doctors had told the parents that after age five, she need not return for follow up as she would be safe with a mature retina and a fully grown eye. And yet, most unfortunately, tragedy struck a second time, when Bhakti was nine years old – it was rare for the retinoblastoma to return at that age.

Bhakti was being treated at a hospital in Chennai and her doctors advised that her eye must be removed. Her father was too shocked to bear the predicament and refused to have Bhakti’s second eye removed. Two years passed before they heard that L V Prasad Eye Institute was offering a new treatment called Brachytherapy. Though Bhakti was found unfit for that particular treatment, she did have to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy to save her life. And yet again it was her mother’s initiative that ensured the correct steps were taken – when Bhakti’s father refused to face the trauma of having the second eye removed, it was her mother who brought Bhakti to LVPEI accompanied by her maternal grandfather.

These were trying moments not just for the family but more so for the young child.  At an age when she should be carefree, enjoying the pleasures of life, she was put to test.  A lot of negative emotions could have filled her mind, but this strong young girl willingly underwent eye surgery to have her second eye removed. From here on Bhakti had to consciously strive to hold her head high. She decided to learn yoga and pranayama to boost her spirits and help her concentrate better on her studies. Cheerfully conversing, attentively listening, narrating the long list of names of people who helped her clear her examinations in flying colours, this IAS-aspirant is a charmer all the way. In her avatar as a cheery and positive young person, Bhakti is a survivor in the truest sense.  

Bhakti Ghatole was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma (eye cancer) when she was a six months old baby. She has survived cancer, lost sight in both eyes and was a topper in class 10 exams. A true winner!

Bhakti with her mother, Sushma Ghatole, her pillar of strength.


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