Join the Fight Against Childhood Cancer

Cancer is a difficult diagnosis for anyone, but for children, it is especially devastating. Even when we can’t provide medical help or caregiving support, there are things we can all do in the battle against childhood cancer.


For busy people with stable incomes, one of the simplest ways to support awareness of this worthy cause is to send a check to support a child cancer donation charity. Any amount will help. There is no obligation to keep donating on a regular basis. Just send a monetary donation through the mail or post it electronically at a secure online charity website. You might want to specify what your donation should go toward, such as research or home health care, if options are provided. Otherwise, trust the charity to put the money to good use.


Some of us have extra time that we want to use for meaningful purposes that help others. Donate your time at a child cancer center or hospital department. You don’t need special skills; many volunteers deliver mail or flowers, help with registration or direct guests to their destined location, or answer phones. You may be able to volunteer from home by doing phone work or assisting with mailings. As with money, you don’t have to pledge a certain amount of time every week or month. Just help when you can, and it will be greatly appreciated.


Many children’s cancer organizations sponsor major events once a year to raise awareness and request contributions. Fundraisers include silent auctions, ornate dinners, volunteer recognition events, athletic competitions, and other activities that bring caring people together for this special cause. You can sign up for events like these to either help with setup and cleanup or register to enter one of the competitive activities or fundraiser options.


Depending on your level of interest, you may be able to work with a local children’s cancer charity to organize an awareness or fundraising event. Start by contacting friends and family members to see if they are interested in helping. When you have a firm list of several individuals, contact the charity of your choice and ask about arranging an event to sponsor a child or contribute overall to the organization.

Whatever efforts you are able to make will help to battle childhood cancer and the toll it takes on children and their families. Give some thought to where your skills or interests can be best put to use and contact the children’s cancer charity of your choice.



When You Feel Like You Are Failing Your Family

Feeling like a failure. A mom of two. The feeling creeps up on me, every so often …

Every time I forget a class, zoom meeting or play date .
Those times when I lose my patience.
When I don’t listen enough or am distracted.
Those moments when other moms or their kids are KILLING it at something we don’t seem to be…
When they yell at me for not letting them (xyz) … or we argue …

It sneaks up, when someone questions my judgement. When someone passes a remark of “them not having those problems … ” or “I could never do what you do … ”

Like a jack in the box!

In the dead of night or early morning hours or at a party or while in a meeting …

All those times, I wonder if I could do better, maybe I need to do things differently.

If I’m lucky, I can voice it out and have those thoughts banished by someone who cares.

Other times, my feet keep going into the quicksand of self doubt. The only way out is holding onto the FACT that I KNOW no one can love my kids the way I do. I do my best, every single day, with the long list of to dos on my schedule in the amount of hours I have.

And out of the fog comes a memory. I remember the time, when I DID NOT HAVE kids…. and my mom said. “I didn’t do anything with my life. I failed… ” and I responded with, “We are amazing, because you are amazing. You did all you could to raise us, with the best decisions you could make at the time. … And that’s all that matters. ”

I KNOW that there are moms who wonder the same, in the dead of the night or those quiet mornings.

To all children reading this, no matter the age, I request you. Do let your mom know she loved you the best she could. You love her and value her and can’t imagine a life without her… Trust me, that’s ALL a mother needs to know.

Since there are NO bonuses, raises or appraisals for the never ending job of motherhood, your WORDS are all she has to measure her worth.

And if you are a mom who has this feeling creep up every so often, remember, there are many like me exactly where you are. And it’s up to us to dig deep within and get out of this hole coz it is not a happy place to live in but most importantly, it is NOT what we deserve, at all!

Know, with every breathe you take, that with all your do, how much ever, YOU are amazing!


A Guide to Indian Weddings

Chances are you may have seen vibrant pictures from Indian weddings. What do you think of, when you picture an Indian wedding?

Bright colors, dancing, singing, henna, festivities spanning several days, elaborate rituals and traditions, all of the above and more. Growing up as an Indian-American, I was always mesmerized by Indian wedding festivities. Traveling to India occasionally for family weddings, I fully enjoyed taking part in the various celebrations, and would relish any opportunity I had to dress up in full Indian attire.

However, it was not until many years later, when I actually had to plan my own wedding, that I understood the significance of the various ceremonies. I also came to appreciate first hand that Indian weddings are considered a union of two families, and therefore many of the customs involve both families.

The summary below is a general overview of customs that are common throughout India. It is important to note that India is actually a very diverse country, made up of several subcultures and each region has its own traditions.

Ganesh Puja – this is a religious ceremony that commences the Indian Hindu wedding rituals. It is a prayer to Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles and bestower of good luck. It is typically done at home with the couple, and close family and friends in observance. The ceremony blesses the couple and assures that the wedding can be performed without any hindrances.

Pithi/Haldi Ceremony– this is a ceremonial bath that usually takes place separately in the bride/groom’s homes. A paste of turmeric, sandalwood, and gram flour is made and applied to the bridge/groom’s skin. Turmeric is considered auspicious in Indian customs, and signifies purity and fertility. It also has an aesthetic purpose, and is believed to provide a beautiful glow to the skin. At the end of the ceremony, family members typically bless the bridge/groom. The bride will often wear yellow on this day, to represent the color of turmeric.

Mehndi Ceremony– Prior to the wedding, the bride and female attendees will typically have a mehndi (henna) artist come and apply mehndi in intricate designs on the hands, forearms, feet and legs. The bride typically has the most extensive and elaborate mehndi, sometimes taking several hours to complete. Common folklore is that the deeper red the bride’s mehndi turns, the stronger the bond between husband and wife. As a fun wedding game, the mehndi artist will often hide the name of the groom in the bride’s mehndi for the groom to find.

Sangeet/Garba – this is a musical night that takes place the night before the wedding. It is a joint event attended by both sides, and allows both families to enjoy singing and dancing to celebrate the couple. It is an “informal” night that allows both families to meet and greet.

Baraat– this is the groom’s procession, whereby the groom makes his way to the altar, followed by all his family and friends. The groom typically rides on a decorated white horse, with family and friends singing and dancing along the way.

Shaadi/Wedding ceremony– the specific rituals in the wedding ceremony vary from region to region. Often, a Hindu wedding begins with the bride and groom exchanging flower garlands (jai mala). A priest will then light the ceremonial fire (agni) in the center of the altar.  The couple will walk around the fire four to seven times depending upon which region of India they are from (mangal phera). Each circle represents a pillar of happiness, namely duty, prosperity, love and spiritual salvation. After that the couple will take seven steps, symbolizing seven wedding vows, and they will be officially married. The groom will then apply a red powder (sindoor) to the bride’s hair partition, and tie a gold and black beaded necklace (mangal sutra) around the bride’s neck, symbolizing that the woman is now married. The couple will seek blessings from the priest and family members. For the wedding ceremony, the bride will often wear the color red.

Reception- similar to an American reception, this is a party to celebrate the married couple after the official wedding takes place. All family and friends can provide their congratulatory wishes.

Indian weddings take place over several days. Attendees typically dress in bright colors. White is usually avoided, as it is the color of mourning. Black is also considered inauspicious and generally not worn. In general, Indian weddings are very lively and meant to be a celebration of life through food, song, and dance!

My vivid childhood memories of Indian weddings actually inspired me to write a children’s book, Bindiya in India. It tells the story of a young girl who travels to India for the first time to meet her family and attend an Indian wedding. If you’d like to introduce your child to Indian weddings, please check out the book, coming fall 2020!


Monique Chheda, MD is a dermatologist living in Maryland. She has been married for four years and has two young children. Becoming a mother inspired her to revive one of her hobbies, writing. Wanting to pass on her Indian culture to her children, she found a scarcity of children’s books that allowed Indian-American children to connect with their heritage. This prompted her to write her own children’s book, Bindiya in India. Her hope is that through literature, she can share India’s rich culture and language with the next generation. Website:, Instagram: @mkchheda

GUide to Indian Weddings