Bravely battling a deadly disease
N. Dilshath Banu meets the Munasinghe family as Sukumari , a wife and mother of two young children, faces the nightmare of leukaemia.
It was January 21, 2004- just another working day for Harsha Munasinghe, a lecturer at the Computer Centre of Sri Jayawardenapura University, except that his wife, Sukumari Kalukottege, a development officer at the Ministry of Urban Development and Water Supply, and their four-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, were ill.

Late in the evening Sukumari's condition worsened. When Harsha consulted Dr. Anil Gunathilake, a senior lecturer at the university and a close friend of their’s , he insisted that she be admitted to hospital immediately. The next morning Dr. Gunathilake explained to Harsha that he suspected leukaemia.

The report of Sukumari's bone marrow test confirmed that she had Chronic Granulocytic Leukaemia. "She didn't show any kind of early symptoms, but lost weight," said Harsha, struggling to contain his emotions. "I didn't want to tell her about her condition. But she knew."As this kind of leukaemia is not the most serious form of the disease, Harsha hoped that she could be cured.

For nearly two months, 37-year-old Sukumari carried on with her life as a wife and mother continuing to work. She was prescribed medicine, which cost Rs. 9,200 per day and seemed to respond very well. " She was full of courage and did everything at home, including the cooking," said Harsha, remembering the happy times together.

But this happiness lasted only for a few months. In May, Sukumari's condition worsened. Her disease had transformed into Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

On May 9, Sukumari left for a Singapore on the advice of her physician at the Cancer Hospital , Maharagama, leaving behind her family. The first time she went through chemotherapy her condition got worse. But the second time, she responded well," explained Harsha. Now she's awaiting a donor for a bone marrow transplant.

Sukumari's room in the Singapore National Hospital is filled with photographs of her two kids Vihanga and Sayumi. Back home, the family’s apartment in the University of Sri Jayawardenapura is forlorn. But Harsha says he can sense Sukumari's presence all the time. His two children play by his side, not knowing the gravity of their mother's disease.

Harsha and Sukumari's 7th wedding anniversary fell on July 24th. Last year they had exchanged gifts and treasured every moment together. Turning the pages of his wedding album, Harsha recalls how his love for Sukumari began." We both studied in the same university and I knew her family very well," he said.

The cost of treatment in Singapore is an estimated US $ 100,000. Having so far raised a little more than Rs.1 million from the family, Harsha has managed to pay part of it. But now Harsha and the family alone cannot bear the cost. "We really need public assistance to save her life," says Harsha.

Account number 0120-01443961-101 of H.K.Munasinghe has been opened at Seylan Bank, Nugegoda for any contributions from kind donors to help this young mother in her battle for life.

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