The ability to help others is a great thing and I realised its sheer importance when I joined Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital as a volunteer. Keeping political gestures aside, I learnt the goodness of making someone smile while being assigned to a cancer patient at Outdoor Patients Department. That was my first day and I was led by my supervisors to attend my first patient: 16-year-old Sonia. Her leg was cut off due to the spread of abnormal cancer cells in her body and she was obliged to have it done, against her will, but for her betterment.

We, as volunteers, were asked not to ask personal questions or to talk on confidential issues relating their lives, sickness or background. We were only supposed to visit the hospital; use a sanitizer; entertain; and go back to our homes.

The most challenging thing yet one of the most rewarded deed of all was to make them happy and cheerful. Taking an edge of my humorous nature, I started to discuss little things with Sonia. She was lying on a sofa, beside her bed. Drip was connected to her vein in the right arm and she was waiting till the drip got finished. She was about to be discharged by evening and finally could go to her home. Her head was covered with a dupatta as the cancer patients lose their hair due to chemotherapy.

We were supposed to talk with the patients, play different indoor games and have gossips without prying into anything personal. The state of dilemma could not be expressed as a patient in her teenage instead of going to school, having fun with her friends, planning for her bright future, was at the hospital for her free-of-cost cancer treatment. Hopes were fading away. Her eyes were dried off dreams due to her sickness.

I was intended to be her best friend for one day; her sister with whom she could share her emotions. Her mother, belonging to the suburbs of Lahore, was in the state of bewilderment.

Adding some liveliness in our discussion by starting the most favorite topic of Lahoris, I asked Sonia: “What is your favorite food?”

“I like Karahi Gosht but I would like to eat some mango chatni,” she replied.

One of my fellow internees with a charming face jumps in the conversation: “Oh Sonia! I like mango achar too.”

And we all started laughing had some sort of understanding then. She looked into my eyes and the happiness which was lost due to her tough and painful treatments was visible.

I thank Shaukat Khanum Hospital for bestowing me with the ample opportunity to bring the feeling of joy which I could see twinkling in her eyes. I was surprised to see Shaukat Khanum giving a high standard treatment to the cancer patients. I witnessed them using the latest technology and expensive treatments with high standard of hygiene but to my surprise, that was all free of cost.

The deserving poor patients who could not afford regular checkups are given a proper treatment. Equipped with the latest technology, the hospital is providing regular injections and medicines, costing millions, to the patients free of cost. The doctors visiting their patients after regular intervals and keeping their record up-to-date is worth appreciating. I want to bring up this in my writing because noble causes should be supported and encouraged. As an internee working at the hospital, I can proudly conclude that Shaukat Khanum provides best treatment to its patients.