Davao hospital leads child cancer awareness campaign

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 Apr) – April being “Cancer in Children Awareness Month,” the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is holding a month-long public information drive on child cancer.

Various topics tat involve the patient and the caregiver will be the main focus of discussions. More substantive topics like the “Thoughts of a Sick Child” and a spiritual discussion on the family with a cancer victim will also be tackled.

Last year, 192 cases of child cancer and blood diseases were admitted at the SPMC Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Unit (SPMC-CCBDU), hospital records show. A total of 75 percent of those admissions had cancer while another 52 percent of the patients endure acute leukemia and lymphoma. Some 36 percent of the children have acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Despite being a major referral center for Mindanao, SMPC-CCBDU only has 25 beds.

According to Dr. Mae Dolendo, a pediatric oncologist, 1,000 cases of child cancer are expected to be diagnosed in Mindanao and more than 75 percent of these children are unable to access the health facilities that the patients sorely need.

“We are optimistic, however, as we look forward to a space that has a 50-bed CCBDU complete with radiotherapy, which we don’t have now, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging),” says Dolendo.

The SPMC-CCBDU has a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and support staff. It also houses a Child Life Program which is the House of Hope. It stands as a transient home for children with cancer who are undergoing outpatient and follow up treatment.

“We cater to patients and their parents who are also stressed with the situation of their child. Sometimes, they tend to neglect relationships with their spouses and their other children. Sometimes we even look for jobs for the parents, even if it earns little just so they would have income to support for their families. So if you have transient jobs to offer, please refer those to us so we can give it to the parents of the patients,” adds Dolendo.

Despite the lack of facilities, the SPMC-CCBDU is the only partner of pediatric oncology of World Child Cancer in Southeast Asia. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan / MindaNews)