Cancer Story of a Nepali Migrant


In early 2012, Junkala, age 30, uprooted from rural Nepal and transported her life to Delhi. It was a change in fate she never could have predicted. Junkala had to relocate to Delhi to receive treatment for her Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. On arrival, her husband found work as a manual laborer. They lived with their two boys in a shared housing unit with 10-15 other laborers and family members. Their modest income went towards paying the fee at a private hospital, but somehow stretched to accommodate her husband’s growing alcohol addiction. Struggling to put food on the table, Junkala’s family was the poorest of the poor.

CanSupport met Junkala not long after they first settled. Junkala’s extremely delicate frame was weak and impoverished. She had large, kind, pain-filled eyes. The team immediately felt concern and protection for the young family. Within a few visits, they had forged a close and protective relationship. They managed her anemia and provided the symptomatic relief to give Junkala strength to face her circumstances and establish a life in Delhi.

At that time, Junkala’s school-aged children were not receiving an education. Her and her husband did not have the resources or knowledge to register the boys into the local school. CanSupport was quick to facilitate this change. Dr Pavan describes that even the smallest, seemingly simple contributions made a ginormous impact on this family. They simply had no connections and no resources. CanSupport provided rations, and even made personal contributions to a transportation fund. Without this fund, Junkala could not have afforded the transportation to the hospital to get treatment. Fortunately, under CanSupport’s guidance, she switched to a public hospital that provided her with free oral chemo.

Meanwhile, Junkala’s husband flirted relentlessly with alcoholism. While his love for Junkala was strong, his alcoholic habit inflicted on her deep emotional and physical pain. Routinely, he would initiate unprotected sexual relations. Routinely, she would fall ill and bleed severely from her vagina. CanSupport empathized with Junkala and gently helped her to reach a decision to terminate a series of unplanned pregnancies. Battling already with anemia, cancer, and an uncooperative husband, additional pregnancy was unwise and hard on her weak body.

CanSupport confronted Junkala’s husband and counseled him on the use of condoms and contraceptives. They also addressed his underlying problem of alcoholism. While it took time, persistent counseling has protected Junkala from further pregnancies and decreased her husband’s drinking to a healthy level. Instead of being a daily drinker, he now only drinks once a month. He is open and honest with the team. Junkala has found new joy in her family and marriage which gives her unparalleled strength in fighting her disease.

The family plans to stay in Delhi where there is treatment, work, and education. CanSupport helped them move out of the shared room and find a rented room of their own. Junkala is pain-free and living a significantly higher quality of life. Her large, kind eyes now have a glimmer of joy.