by Shristi Kafle
KATHMANDU, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Fashion shows are quite common in Nepal, but a cancer survivor kids' ramp walk in Nepal's capital city Kathmandu was an extremely rare sight on Saturday.
Dressed in both traditional and ethnic garbs and colorful modern outfits with fancy glasses and hair-bands, around 50 children aged from two to 18-years-old participated in the charity show, "a Super Kids Cancer Survivor Ramp Walk," under the theme of "Childhood Cancer is Curable".
Unlike regular fashion shows, the event organized for the first time by the Nepal Cancer Support Group was inaugurated by Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun and attended by people from different walks of life including politicians and celebrities.
With western music playing in background, the children walked on the ramp confidently with graceful smiles in front of an audience of around 600 people. Besides walking, the musical and dance performances of the cancer survivors also made many eyes in the hall wet.
Rimpho Gyalmo, 13, stole the show with his heart-wrenching speech about the struggle with cancer.
"Though I cannot attend school at the moment, I am active. I draw and help my mother with the housework. I feel like I am getting better every day. I will beat cancer soon," the teenager, who has been suffering from blood cancer, told Xinhua.
The young Gyalmo, who came to Kathmandu about two years ago from Pokhara city for treatment, not just walked on the ramp but also pulled at the heart strings of the audience with his long speech.
"I am happy that my doctors said I can go back to school soon," he beamed with a hopeful smile.
Pallavi Shrestha, 14, who has been suffering from an ovarian tumor for the past seven months, was one of the participants. Pallavi, who passed Grade 8, has not been able to continue her school due to cancer but is expected to resume studies like her friends from next year.
According to Pallavi's parents, she has already undergone chemotherapy and surgery and is under an ongoing treatment process.
They decided to take their daughter to the fashion show to fill her with positivity and confidence.
"We did not have much information about cancer before, so we were almost depressed. Lately, we realized that cancer is curable. We are just waiting for the day her life will return to normal," Dinesh Shrestha, Pallavi's father who is a photo journalist, told Xinhua.
According to the Nepal Health Research Council, around 30,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in the country. Of those diagnosed only around 10,000 patients visit the hospital to receive treatment.
Although there is no exact data, it is estimated that around 10,000 children are suffering from cancer in this South Asian country, according to the organizer.
Leukemia, lymphoma, brain and spinal cord tumor and retina blastoma are some of the common forms of cancer prevalent among the Nepali children.
Anjali Pandit, a child cancer specialist who has been working at the Nepal Cancer Hospital, said cancer in children is not always fatal and can be cured through processes like radio therapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
"Childhood cancer is curable. Unlike cancer in adults, 80 to 90 percent of cancer can be cured in children. The most important thing is to raise awareness and to remove the stigma attached with cancer," Pandit explained.
Along with Pandit, nearly a dozen doctors also walked on the ramp with the kids to motivate their young patients and elevate their spirits.
According to the organizer, the event was aimed to create awareness and help motivate the families and child survivors of cancer to get back into a regular lifestyle and enjoy their basic child rights.
Program coordinator Sworupa Shrestha told Xinhua that they organized the event to raise awareness about cancer in children and to raise some funds to support the treatment of cancer patients coming from poor family backgrounds.
On the occasion, Nepali Vice President Pun donated one month's salary, which is around 1,000 U.S. dollars, to help the children battling with cancer.