Spending time on Mother’s Day with cancer-afflicted kids

By: ATTY. DENNIS R. GORECHO - Columnist/CDN Digital | May 16,2023 - 08:45 AM
Spending time on Mother’s Day with cancer-afflicted kids. In photo are cancer-afflicted kids and their parents at a cancer facility for children in Manila.

Lawyer Dennis Gorecho says that he spent his birthday, Mother’s Day, at a cancer facility for children in Manila. | Dennis Gorecho

The month of May has three significant dates for our family: Mothers’ day, Mama’s birthday and her death anniversary.

My mother, fondly called Mama Linda, died on May 17, 2002 due to pericarditis and lymphoma three days after she celebrated her 61st birthday on May 14. One year and a half later, Papa joined Mama.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting network.

The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes (lymph glands), spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow. Lymphoma can affect all those areas as well as other organs throughout the body. Her three other sisters also passed away due to cancer.

I celebrated this year’s Mother’s Day, which coincided with my mother’s birthday, with the cancer-afflicted children and their mothers at the CHILD Haus, or Center for Health Improvement and Life Development Haus.

No ailment has sustained as strong of a negative stigma as cancer, specially on children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that an estimated 4,700 children (aged 0 to 19 years) are diagnosed with cancer each year in the Philippines.

Leukemia accounts for approximately 49% of childhood cancers while other cancers affect  the brain and nervous system (9.7%), lymph nodes (9%), retina (7.5%), kidney (3.4%), and bone and soft tissues, gonadal, and germ cell sites.

Deaths from childhood cancer are estimated at 1,700 each year. A cousin of mine, Lawrence, died of leukemia at the young  age of 8 years old.

The Department of Health (DOH) said that malignancies in children are difficult to detect because they may present similarly as other common childhood diseases.

The DOH noted that parents should have their children undergo regular medical check-up and be alerted to the following symptoms which may be associated with cancer in children: prolonged, unexplained fever or illness; unexplained pallor; increased tendency to bruise, unexplained localized pain or limping; unusual masses or swelling; frequent headaches, often with vomiting; sudden eye or visual changes; sudden or progressive weight loss.

A child’s chronic disease, like cancer, affects every sphere of their life.

Childhood cancer is a “stressful experience” for parents as caring is an emotionally exhausting task, causing physical, mental, social, and economic well-being to decline as the disease progresses.

The effects and consequences include the risk of developing anger, resentment, guilt, adjustment pain, anxiety, depression,  parental stress, psychosocial distress,  and burnout, often leading to a deterioration of mental well-being.

Recurring issues include limited access to health facilities, long waiting times, prolonged hospital stays, lack of chemotherapy drugs, and limited or inadequate information about their child’s disease condition and treatment.

Established in 2002, CHILD Haus is a temporary shelter for indigent patients from different provinces who have cancer or other dreaded diseases and have no place to stay in Metro Manila while undergoing medical evaluation or treatment. It provides free room and board to its residents.

CHILD Haus run along the principles of hospice care and promotes the concept of holistic healing through its various programs, services and activities.

CHILD Haus is a seven-story multi-purpose complex located on Agoncillo Street in Paco, Manila which is walking distance from  the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) where most of the kid patients seek treatment.

Members of the Maritime Law Association of the Philippines (MARLAWPh) usually gather every May at CHILD Haus as part of the “birthday wish party” of our former president Atty. Pedrito Faytaren,

In 2015, I celebrated my 45th birthday in CHILD Haus in honor of my mother who died of cancer. It was also that year that the movie “CHILD HAUS’ written by Socorro Villanueva and directed by Louie Ignacio was shown that features child stars Miggs Cuaderno, Therese Malvar, Vince Magbanua, Felixia Dizon, Erica Yu and Mona Louise Rey.

A mother has the ability to love selflessly as  the pillar of strength in everyone’s life. She is the one without whom life is incomplete as she  bears the pain of child birth. And for the cancer-afflicted children and their mothers, CHILD Haus gives them hope of continuing their lives free of cancer.

(Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)

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TAGS: cancer, Leukemia, May, Mother's Day
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