In July 2012, the Art of Hope and Healing cancer treatment program for indigent women and children ended its first year with encouraging results: Of the first 30 women in the program suffering from breast cancer who were placed and whose treatment was coordinated by the Philippine Cancer Society in Manila, fifteen have completed their treatment with Tamoxifen provided by Asia America Initiative with the support of Global Giving donors. All have been found to be cleared from the tumors that threatened their lives. The remaining fifteen women are currently completing additional hormonal treatment to prevent recurrence of the illness.
The medicines are donated by the National Cancer Coalition with headquarters in North Carolina and KrebsAllianz headquartered in Germany. The livelihood component of the Art of Hope and Healing has recently been joined by psyche-social mentors from the Health Futures NGO, accounting teachers from Micro Ventures, Inc and gardeners from the Armed Forces of the Philippines have volunteered to teach growing decorative plants and flowers and herbs for local restaurants.
While the health improvement in the program's women beneficiaries was heartwarming, most heartwarming surprise was the resilient smile, dancing and singing of 7 year old Pauline. When we first met her one year ago, she was not given much chance to survive due to a rare genetic disease. She had stopped attending school because of constant teasing by classmates due to her swollen mid-section caused by a radically enlarged liver and retention of fluid. Her family lives in a rural town a three hour drive on rugged provincial roads away from specialized treatment centers in the Capitol. Her parents could not dream of affording the medicines and professional care that would save her life. But thanks to the medical programs of AAI and support from cancer treatment and rare diseases organizations in the United States, Europe and the Philippines, Pauline has made a wonderful recovery.
On July 26, the AAI team visited the Pediatric Rare Diseases Ward at Philippine General Hospital where we met with Pauline and 13 year old twins Fatima and Erika who were all undergoing intravenous treatment. We joined them in celebrating their respective July birthdays with their families and the doctors and nurses who care for them. While they dream of being school teachers some day, AAI is hoping to continue our medical support of these very special children until a more long term and less arduous medical treatment is discovered.
The support of the more than 150 Global Giving community of donors is essential to sustain our program. We are profoundly touched by the support shown by those partners who share the $10 or $20 they can afford. We believe that "Every life does matter." And we appreciate that you are there in support of those children such as Pauline, Fatima and Erika.
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