May holds significant dates for our family, including Mother’s Day, my late mother’s birthday, and her death anniversary.
My mother, affectionately known as Mama Linda, passed away on May 17, 2002, due to pericarditis and lymphoma shortly after celebrating her 61st birthday on May 14. One year and a half later, Papa joined Mama.
Lymphoma, a cancer affecting the lymphatic system, has also claimed the lives of three of her sisters among the nine siblings.
On this year’s Mother’s Day, which coincided with Mama’s birthday, I spent time with cancer-stricken children and their mothers at the CHILD Haus, a center providing support for health improvement and life development.
Cancer, particularly in children, carries a significant stigma.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 4,700 children in the Philippines are diagnosed with cancer each year. Leukemia accounts for 49% of childhood cancers, while others affect the brain, nervous system, lymph nodes, retina, kidney, and bone and soft tissues.
Childhood cancer-related deaths amount to approximately 1,700 per year. Tragically, my cousin Lawrence succumbed to leukemia at the tender age of 8.
Detecting malignancies in children is challenging, as symptoms may mimic common childhood diseases.
The Department of Health (DOH) recommends regular medical check-ups and awareness of symptoms such as prolonged unexplained fever, unexplained pallor, increased bruising, localized pain, unusual masses or swelling, frequent headaches, eye or visual changes, and unexplained weight loss.
Caring for a child with a chronic disease like cancer takes a toll on every aspect of their life. Parents face emotional exhaustion, leading to a decline in physical, mental, social, and economic well-being as the disease progresses. The long-term effects include anger, resentment, guilt, adjustment difficulties, anxiety, psychosocial distress, and burnout, which can deteriorate mental well-being.
Recurring issues in childhood cancer care include limited access to healthcare facilities, long waiting times, extended hospital stays, insufficient chemotherapy drugs, and inadequate information about the child’s condition and treatment.
Established in 2002, CHILD Haus offers a temporary shelter to indigent patients from various provinces who require medical evaluation or treatment in Metro Manila. It provides free room and board, following hospice care principles and promoting holistic healing through its programs, services, and activities. Located near the Philippine General Hospital, CHILD Haus serves as a refuge for many children seeking treatment.
Every May, members of the Maritime Law Association of the Philippines (MARLAWPh) gather at CHILD Haus to celebrate the birthday of our former president, Atty. Pedrito Faytaren.
In 2015, I celebrated my 45th birthday at CHILD Haus to honor my late mother who lost her battle with cancer.
That same year, the movie “CHILD HAUS,” written by Socorro Villanueva and directed by Louie Ignacio, was released, featuring child stars portraying the stories of resilience within CHILD Haus.
A mother’s love is unparalleled, characterized by selflessness and serving as the pillar of strength in our lives. No one can surpass a mother’s love for her child, a love that necessitates sacrifices only a mother can make. She endures the pain of childbirth and continues to bear the burden of a child’s questions and self-pitying perceptions when facing cancer. Her spirituality becomes a source of strength and bravery for the child.
For children and mothers affected by cancer, CHILD Haus offers hope for a future free from the grips of this disease.
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