In doing so, this cancer survivor has set an example for hundreds of other cancer patients who are fighting the dreaded disease. The National Society for Childhood Cancer and Cankids Kidscan have committed to supporting his family to meet his higher education costs of Rs 400,000 over four years and are seeking donors to help him.

"When I lost an eye at the age of five, no one imagined that I would go far in academics," said Yadav, a resident of Haryana whose father is a constable in the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force."Even when I started my preparations for the IIT entrance exam, not many of my peers believed that I would crack it," he added. Pankaj is a survivor of retinoblastoma eye cancer, and sports a plastic left eye.

Sushila Devi, Pankaj's mother, is all praise for her son's courage. "It is a miracle. After his fight against cancer, our middle class family had little hope of his making it big. But Pankaj made it through IIT and MBBS entrance. Now, after his IIT course he should serve others like him who have overcome adversity," she said. Pankaj's younger sister, Mamata, 14, is in Class 10. "I will try to do something like him," she said.

The IIT-entrant was among the 23 cancer patients and survivors who were recently honoured by Cankids in New Delhi with scholarships under the 6th Annual National Childhood Cancer Scholarship Programme 2013. Over 830 child cancer patients and survivors, aged 5 to 21, from 24 cancer hospitals across the country had applied for the scholarships. The programme was hosted in association with Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

"Twenty-three children were given cash awards, citations and trophies in different categories. But every cancer fighter who applied is being given a medal and certificate. We are sending them to the hospitals to hold small ceremonies and award all the participants," Cankids education officer Tannu Sharma said. Among the awardees was Aman Saxena, who is fighting a nose and throat cancer relapse.

Kapil Chawla, Awareness Advocacy Officer of Cankids, said, "The scholarships for supporting education of cancer patients and survivors are aimed at showing to other patients that they too can become role models for other little bravehearts."

(Agencies)

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