Mumbai: Student who lost battle with cancer, emerges winner in SSC exam

Shubham Gholap, who passed away last month from acute myeloid leukemia, scored 89.20 per cent in the SSC exams

Fifteen-year-old Shubham Gholap might've lost his life to blood cancer but his SSC report card, which came one month after his death, displayed the boy's exemplary willpower, as he secured 89.20 per cent.

Also read: Despite gruelling battle against cancer, Pune teen scores 91 per cent

Shubham Gholap, during a practice session
Shubham Gholap, during a practice session 

The Kalyan resident and national level baseball player for the U-15 baseball team was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in October 2014 and spent the next eight months undergoing exhausting treatments at various hospitals in the city. However, that didn't stop him from appearing for the SSC exams.

Juggling studies and chemo sessions
Family members remember Gholap, who was a student of Sacred Heart High School in Kalyan as a cheerful youngster, filled with aspirations. "He could easily juggle his tasks, be it studies or games. We never saw him buried deep in his books or complain about his busy schedule which used to be filled with practice sessions, tuitions, homework and school.

Everybody in his school and family loved him," said Dhananjay Junnerkar, his uncle. Gholap's ailment came to light during the preliminary exams in October 2014, when he collapsed during an exam. Blood reports revealed that Gholap suffered from leukemia. The family immediately admitted him to Fortis Hospital, Mulund, where he was diagnosed with AML and was shifted to the ICCU of the hospital.

"There are two types of leukemia — chronic and acute. The patient already slips into M5 stage when AML develops into Acute Monocytic Leukemia. He also had high fever, which was a major cause of concern for us. He had to undergo chemotherapy ... But I must say, the boy remained positive throughout," said an oncologist at Fortis Hospital who treated Gholap, on condition of anonymity. Due to the mounting expenses, the family shifted Gholap from Fortis to another private hospital in Mandpeshwar, Borivali, where he continued chemotherapy.

Against all odds
His family and doctors where shocked when Gholap informed them that he wanted to appear for the SSC exams. "His parents were emotional. I spoke to the doctor and he clearly explained that Gholap's chances of surviving were minimal. Yet, he wanted to write the exams and we didn't stop him," said Ratnaprabha Junnerker, his aunt.

The family brought Gholap home so that he could go to the exam centre. Due to his deteriorating health and the IV drips he was put on, he was offered a writer by the board. "A surgery was scheduled on the same day as his Marathi exam and he requested that the surgery be scheduled in the evening so that he could attend the exam. When I saw that he scored 88/100 in Marathi, I could barely hold back my tears," said Dhananjay.

In the meanwhile, Gholap started consulting Dr Nilesh Suryavanshi, MD Ayurvedic medicine, at D Y Patil Hospital, Pune. "During the treatment, I never saw him lose patience or curse his luck," said Suryavanshi.

Although the family never informed Gholap about his ailment, he was aware about his condition. "While on one side he was throwing up blood, on the other side, he kept saying that we will distribute pedhas to the doctors post the results. Two days before his death, he looked at the sky and said he didn't want to die. I lied that nothing will happen to him, but on the night of May 10 at around 8.30 pm he breathed his last,' said Junnerkar.

The school organised a prayer to announce his success in the SSC exams last week. "We didn't know how to express our joy when we saw his results. His teeth were falling out, his memory was weak, he could barely walk and was away from school for eight months but he still achieved what he wanted to," said Ratnaprabha.

His family hopes that Gholap's story will encourage others to achieve their goals against all odds. "People will always remember him as the guy who fought the battle against cancer and won. Death didn't mean that he lost the fight — it was only a repercussion of his ailment. His victory was announced in the marks that he got," added Dhananjay.

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