Kids celebrate life one month at a time: group-A A +A
Monday, September 10, 2012
LESLIE Ann Sumampon loves carnival rides. At the St. James Amusement Park last Friday, her mother had trouble convincing her to quit the octopus ride when it was time to go home.
Eight-year-old Leslie Ann was diagnosed with leukemia in March last year. Two months later, she started undergoing chemotherapy.
The second grader was one of the 15 children with cancer who were treated to the amusement park in Mandaue City.
Called “Celebrate Life With Kids With Cancer,” the activity was organized by the Kythe Foundation-Cebu, Rotary International-Cebu Fuente, Rotaract Club-Cebu Fuente, Icanserve Foundation, and St. James Amusement Park.
The Kythe Foundation holds get-together activities for the children every month.
“We want to celebrate each month that the child survives,” said Shalom Rea Bernales, child life coordinator of Kythe Foundation-Cebu.
Established in 1992, the Kythe Foundation is a psychosocial support group that helps children with chronic illnesses cope with anxiety and fear of being hospitalized.
The foundation started operating in Cebu in 2008. It is based at the Perpetual Succor Hospital, where they handle 19 children, most of whom are afflicted with leukemia.
Bernales said their youngest patient is eight months old while their oldest is 18
“We assist children during their chemotherapy,” she said. They do storytelling, arts and craft and other activities.
“For children, celebrating life can be as simple as going to the amusement park,” said Me’ann Solomon, national president of Icanserve Foundation, an advocacy group of breast cancer survivors.
When Solomon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she began sponsoring get-together activities for children with cancer.
This year, she scheduled the activity on Sept. 8, to coincide with Virgin Mary’s birthday. “This is also my eighth year as a survivor,” she said.
Solomon was one of the first donors of Kythe Foundation in Cebu. Over the years, she has convinced many of his friends to sponsor activities for the children.
Bernales said they have different sponsors every month.
Some of the children who joined last Friday’s party are already well, like nine-year-old Raymond Dultra.
Raymond, a third grader from Talisay City, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was still three years old.
He underwent chemotherapy for three years. Gina Dultra, his mother, said Raymond still undergoes tests every year.
Chemotherapy for children with leukemia takes three to six years. Alphe Sumampon, Leslie Ann’s mother, said she and her husband are struggling to pay for their child’s monthly chemotherapy.
Leslie Ann’s father is a construction worker while her mother sells banana cue and other foods in school.
Alphe said they never miss a chemotherapy session for Leslie Ann, who goes to a public school in Borbon, Cebu.
Last Friday, despite her mother’s repeated pleas, Leslie Ann refused to quit the octopus ride. It was getting dark. Not mindful of the time, she smiled and called “Mama!” each time the ride swept past her mother.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 10, 2012.