In the past two years, the Children Cancer Foundation has helped thousands of children. Their donations to patients, interns, hospitals and organisations committed to cancer therapy have amounted to almost four billion forints. They provide non-reimbursed medicines, as well as vitamins and dietary supplements free of charge to registered cancer patients and grant several individual requests like creating a sterile room, buying firewood, paying for travel expenses or financing treatment abroad. István Balogh, president of the foundation, shows a letter they received from a 14-year-old girl. “Dear Foundation, please help me avoid losing my leg! Petra”
It seems patients sometimes ask for things that are almost impossible, you still try to help. Did you succeed?
In 2013 Petra P. was diagnosed with bone cancer in her left leg and received chemotherapy in the Paediatric Clinic of Tűzoltó Street. However, the aggressive tumour came back and Petra’s condition became increasingly severe. Considering the location of the tumour, the oncologists and the professor of the Orthopaedic Clinic agreed that the only solution was mid-thigh amputation.
Petra and her family were shocked and could not accept amputation. They started searching for a place where Petra’s leg could be saved. The head of a private clinic in Braşov, Romania, who happens to be an orthopaedic surgeon, offered his help. After consulting with experts, including vascular surgeons, he decided to perform the limb saving operation. The only thing missing was: money. Although the surgical team waived the medical fees, the cost of hospitalisation amounted to nearly 1.5 million forints, a sum beyond the family’s financial means. Our foundation had helped the family several times before, contributing hundreds of thousand of forints to Petra’s therapy, and now we paid the full sum. On 9 October 2016, Petra left the Braşov clinic on both her legs – despite the earlier Hungarian diagnosis.
I have seen the locks of hair you received in packs from all over the world to prepare wigs for sick children.
The aim of our hair donation project is to allow girls who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy to wear wigs made from genuine hair until their hair regrows. This is also a great help to parents who often cannot afford to pay for a wig made from real hair and are forced to buy a synthetic one reimbursed by social insurance, which is very inconvenient to wear and causes discomfort. The Children Cancer Foundation has undertaken to get the suitable wigs prepared using the donated locks and give them to the children free of charge. More and more people join the campaign launched three years ago. Many children sympathise with their sick peers and would like to help. The news of lock donations has spread beyond our borders and now we receive hair from several European countries and even from overseas. Handing over a wig made from real hair is always a heart-warming sensation – you will never forget the smile on the kid’s face.
After surgery, patients need medicines and vaccines. Are you able to take over the costs of these, too?
After they have undergone therapy, the kids’ immune system must be restored to be able to function in the proper way. It is essential that all children get the vaccines which make them protected again against infections. Most of these vaccines are not reimbursed by the social insurance so the families have to bear the costs which may amount to hundreds of thousands. Let me tell you one example. Dani is suffering from brain tumour and his parents turned to us for help. We paid for the vaccinations. We have been supporting the family for three years, also providing a hearing aid to Dani.
The foundation also has a guest house in Veszprém as part of the support provided to families. Do they take advantage of the possibility?
Having a vacation where members of the family can relax together after the tribulations of disease and hospitalisation is an important part of therapy, experts claim. The guest house is in Veszprém, just a few miles from Lake Balaton, providing an ideal facility for kids to recuperate with their parents and siblings around them. The costs of these vacations are paid by the foundation. As a prolonged disease is a huge burden for the whole family financially as well as psychologically, a family vacation is not only important for the kid but also for the parents and the siblings.