Not a normal childhood: A story of two kids with cancer

By Kathy M. Villalon
THE NEWS TODAY


A normal childhood consists of happy moments like repeated visits to the park. But for Angelica Wayne Lucine or “Angel”, seven years old, the number of visits to the doctor and the hospital seems to surpass her playtime at the park.
This is because Angel has Ewing’s Sarcoma in her right hip. It is a malignant round-cell tumour found in the bone or in soft tissue. The most common areas where it occurs are the pelvis, the femur, the humerus, the ribs and clavicle. Genetic exchange between chromosomes can cause cells to become cancerous. Ewing sarcoma is the result of a translocation between chromosomes 11 and 22.
It was on September 2010 when Angel’s mom, April Rose, 31, noticed a mass on her right hip. Angel complained of pain at that area, but it eventually disappeared. However, the mass re-appeared a month later, coupled with pain in the right hip. Angel was losing weight as well.
So, they consulted a doctor and she was asked to undergo x-ray for the chest and the hip. She was diagnosed with primary complex but was given medication. Her hip x-ray result was normal.
However, the pain increased and on November, Angel was unable to ambulate. She also had intermittent fever, which was managed by taking paracetamol.
She underwent pelvic x-ray in February this year and it showed fracture of the hip bone for which traction was done. The MRI showed a 10-centimeter right iliac soft tissue mass.
A biopsy done in April showed that Angel has Ewing’s Sarcoma. On May, Angel was admitted to the West Visayas State University Medical Center for chemotherapy.

BABIES NOT SPARED
Babies are not spared from cancer. Nine-month-old Mariel Jastia was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is a rapidly developing cancer that develops in the cells of retina, the light detecting tissue of the eye.
When Mariel was only two months old, her mother Mardy, 37, saw a whitish spot at the pupil of her left eye. This increased in size, covering the entire left eyeball, when Mariel was four months old. This required removal of the affected eye, so Mariel had to undergo the operation last March 21 this year.
Mariel also went through chemotherapy treatments. “With God’s grace, Mariel was able to complete her four chemotherapy treatments,” Mardy said.

SUPPORT NEEDED
Angel and Mariel belong to a family that can barely afford chemotherapy and other treatments.
Angel and her family live in Barangay Guintas, a rural area of the municipality of Leganes, Iloilo. They stay in a small compound with their extended family members who also help support the Lucine brood. Most of them work in the farm. They own their house, but it’s mortgaged. They borrowed money from family members and friends so that Angel can receive hospital care and chemotherapy treatments.
April, who used to have a stable job, had to give up working so that she could take care of Angel. She was even supposed to leave for the United Kingdom last March of this  year. Her husband Roselo, 39, works as a tricycle driver. He owns his tricycle, but due to rising expenses for Angel’s treatments, this is now mortgaged. He earns P400 pesos a day, which is enough for the family’s daily needs. They also have a sari-sari store that has a gross average daily income of P500 a day. Again, this is not enough. The couple still has to care for their other child – Rose Ivan, 12, a grade schooler.
Meanwhile, some of those who helped with Mariel’s treatments were the Department of Social Welfare and Development of Pavia, Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta, village officials of Purok 4, Rep. Augusto Syjuco, trisikad drivers and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
However, this month, the ophthalmologist suggested that the right eye of Mariel has to undergo laser treatment and this would cost them P10,000.
“Our problem is, we cannot afford that amount. We can’t even afford to buy her medicines. We don’t know how we could come up with the money,” Mardy said.
Mardy’s husband, Juvy, 44, works as a welder and trisikad driver and earns only an average of P6,000 a month. That is not enough to meet the family’s needs, considering that the couple has three more kids – Julie Ann, 14; Joseph, 10; and Jomar, four years old. The three are studying in Pavia, Iloilo.
They live as squatters in a small house that’s made of mixed materials. The bedroom, living and dining areas are located in one room.

HOPE
Prior to her diagnosis, Angel studied at the Leganes Central School. Now, she just stays at home with her mom. Her time is spent on her hobbies like reading, writing, drawing as well as playing with dolls and stuffed toys. Sometimes, she pretends to be a chef and a doctor.
“Angel wants to get well,” April said. “She hopes that someday, she’ll be able to play outside the house without sitting on a wheelchair,” she said.
The well-being of a child is every parent’s wish. Mardy continues to hope that some kind-hearted individuals or organizations would help them save their child.
One organization that took Angel and Mariel as one of its beneficiaries is the Mga Kaibigan ng Mga Kabataang May Kanser (KKK).
KKK (http://www.iloilokanserkids.webs.com/) is composed of individuals who, by one way or another, had a family member who had cancer. This organization funds the chemotherapy treatments of these children, along with six others that came from indigent families. The funds came from donations from well-meaning individuals and groups who want to help but want to go through the proper channel to do so. The organization also creates projects in order to raise funds. In the past, it held a fashion show and musical-dinner for a cause wherein designers and musicians rendered their services for free. The group also encourages other clubs to support. At one time, the Emerald Lions Club held a Christmas party for the KKK kids and provided them with food and gifts. There were others who, instead of spending for a lavish birthday party for their family and friends, decided to spend it with the kids. Last March, an American named Patrick Murray did a bed push from La Paz to Mandurriao to help KKK raise funds as well as create awareness about childhood cancer.*

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