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Help Cancer Patients Pay for Travel Expenses!

by Advita Fund USA
Help Cancer Patients Pay for Travel Expenses!
Pavel
Pavel

Little Pavel is only three, but already he is facing a battle with cancer.  During Christmas holidays he started feeling unwell.  It seemed like a cold at first, but then he developed fever, vomiting and fatigue.  His stomach extended and he developed bruising around his eyes.  On January 9th his family took him to the hospital and an abdominal tumor was found on ultrasound. After extensive testing, Pavel was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a most common solid tumor in childhood.

This type of cancer can be cured, but about half of the kids relapse.  Recently, a new therapy with antibodies was added to standard treatment that improves survival by 20%.  However, this therapy is only available in developed countries, and Pavel would not be able to receive it in his native Ukraine.

Pavel's family started treatment in Ukraine, but decided to take him to Spain to access antibody therapy.  His family is facing a very difficult time, and your help will help alleviate this burden and allow them to travel to Spain.  Thank you so much for being part of this project and supporting families during desperate times! 

 

 

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Ivan in summer 2019
Ivan in summer 2019

Happy Giving Tuesday!  Thank you for joining us today in celebrating the day of giving, sharing and remembering.  As you know, our work centers around supporting cancer patients from the former Soviet Union.  Unfortunately, countries in that region are significantly behind developed countries in the quality of cancer care.  This gap is even more pronounced in pediatric cancer.  For example, procedures like bone marrow transplants are still not available to children with cancer in Ukraine.  New and more effective medications take many years before making their way to the countries in the region. 

Ivan's case is typical for child diagnosed with cancer in Ukraine.  His fight for his life began 9 years ago, when he was only 4. On September 2, 2010 to his parents’ utter shock he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Ivan was treated at the local hospital in Nikolaev, Ukraine and the treatment went well. Once he completed it, Ivan went back to preschool and then entered elementary. Suddenly, when he was 8, Ivan collapsed with partial paralysis and loss of consciousness. The testing revealed recurrence of acute leukemia, and this time only bone marrow transplant could give Ivan hope for recovery.  As it was not available to Ivan in Ukraine, in July 2015 his family took him to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, Italy.   In November of that year Ivan received donor’s bone marrow transplant. Again, Ivan was able to return to normal life – school and hobbies, math and kickboxing. His family hoped the worst was behind them. Unfortunately, four years later, in September 2019, Ivan started feeling unwell during practice.  As it turned out, he had a second relapse. His family was shuttered by the news, but they came together and decided to return to Italy for treatment, as the local doctors had no experience treating patients post bone marrow relapse. Currently, Ivan is receiving immunotherapy and he is responding well. Ivan’s parents are unable to work as they are taking care of Ivan in Italy.  They need our support to ensure Ivan is able to finish his treatment. 

Thanks to your kindness, we were able to grant Ivan's family with 1,000 euros to pay for the costs of living and lodging.  If you would like to support other patients like Ivan, please donate to our project today!  Your donation will be able to receive additional matching from GlobalGiving and help us earn bonus funds!  

Thanks again for your generosity and support of our efforts! 

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For many of us, summer break is over and we are back from our vacations to attend school or go to work.  Some may already be planning their next holiday.  Travel is not only fun, but it's genuinely good for our health and wellbeing.  We hope that all of our supporters had a great time this summer!    

Cancer patients, however, travel for different reasons.  Most often it's to access medical expertise and level of care unavailable close to home.  Sometimes, it's the doctors themselves who tell the patients to try their luck elsewhere, where the resources and possibilities are not as limited.  Ability to accept patients at a short notice is another factor, or having no visa requirements that delay travel plans.  A lot of times, it's the word of mouth, a recommendation from a friend or another patient.  In the former Soviet Union, most patients tend to go to Israel, Germany or Turkey for treatment when no further treatment options exist at home.

Stas, a 14-year old from Ukraine, is one such patient.  In early 2017 he had surgery to remove a tumor.  Local doctors determined it to be benign and Stas had no further treatment.  In March 2019 Stas began having stomachaches and went to see doctors again.  He was referred for comprehensive evaluation, and the scans showed multiple lesions in his lymph nodes.  These were metastases from cancer that was previously misdiagnosed as benign tumor.  Two of the lesions were removed during biopsy, but another one was deemed unoperable.  The doctors had a hard time determining the type of cancer, and Stas’s family decided to take him abroad for further diagnostics and treatment. 

The family flew to Israel where Stas was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of rare solid tumor.  The doctors are giving Stas a good prognosis, but the treatment is costly.  Stas's ability to remain on treatment depends on the kindness of strangers.  He already had surgery that removed all visible metastases, but he still needs to stay in Israel and complete 5 cycles of chemotherapy and 30 radiation sessions, to be followed by maintenance chemotherapy for another year.  

Your donation will ensure that patients like Stas have access to quality cancer care abroad.  It is an unfortunate reality that there is a significant gap in patient outcomes in developed countries and the former Soviet Union.  Traveling abroad allows patients with rare cancers to bridge that gap and improve their chances to beat cancer. 

Thank you for your support!  

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Ali
Ali

Ali is an 8-year old from Chechnya.  Already he spent half of his life fighting for his life.  He was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma in 2015 and spent two years in treatment.  Just a month after his family thought he was cancer-free, Ali had a relapse.  In June 2018 he underwent stem cell transplant from his older brother, but his remission lasted only 3 months.  The doctors in Moscow then attempted a cutting-edge procedure:  therapy with CAR T-cells, which appeared successful at first, but in only three months Ali's cancer returned.   At that point, Ali's family was told that no further options were available for him in Russia.  

However, there are clinical trials and newer medications available in developed countries around the world.  In Israel, therapy with an experimental drug, inotuzumab, was available, and Ali's family flew there to take one last chance to bring Ali into remission.  And it worked!  Ali had one injection of the drug and already all of cancer in his blood went away.  After another injection and additional testing, Ali would have to proceed to a second stem cell transplant to strengthen his remission. 

Ali is a happy, active kid who misses his family, siblings and friends dearly and cannot wait to go home.  At the same time, he understands how important it is for him to finish treatment however difficult and painful it may be.  Your support for kids like Ali is invaluable and we greatly appreciate your help!   Our grant of $1,000 will go to help Ali's family with their travel and living expenses in Israel and will help alleviate the financial burden of cancer. 

Thanks again for your support and have a great summer! 

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Irina
Irina

During 2018 this project had helped 13 patients with the costs of travel, lodging and treatment abroad.  We shared several of the stories with you.  Some of the patients are children whose parents are desperate to give them access to modern care.  Others are adults who were told that nothing could be done for them in their home countries, yet promising treatments exist abroad.

One of these patients will be receiving our support again this year.  She continues to need our help and will be unable to afford treatment otherwise.  

Irina was born and grew up in Crimea. She had a gift for languages and became a teacher of English and Italian. After takeover of Crimea by Russia in 2014, Irina’s family fled to Kiev where they worked hard to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, in late 2017 Irina was urgently hospitalized. The tests revealed colon cancer that resulted in complete blockage of her intestines and metastases in her liver. Irina was in a critical condition, and Ukrainian doctors only expected her to have 3 months to live.

Irina’s family decided to get a second opinion. They used their life savings to take Irina to Israel for treatment. There she underwent seven cycles of chemotherapy, and her disease retreated. However, Irina needs to continue her treatment to keep cancer at bay.  Every two months, she travels to Israel for chemotherapy, as medications she needs are not available in Ukraine.  Our support is vital, and she is very grateful to everyone whose help allowed her to continue accessing life-saving treatment. 

Thank you for supporting our project!  We hope to make more difference in lives of cancer patients like Irina this year.  

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Advita Fund USA

Location: Houston, Texas - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @advitausa
Project Leader:
Marina Ouano
President
Houston, Texas United States

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