Small pleasures for kids with cancer

Since age two, RJ Jarandilla struggled with leukemia. Now four years old, RJ has endured traveling from Barotac Viejo to Iloilo City in order to receive chemotherapy treatment at the Western Visayas Medical Center.

In those two years, his parents Randolph and Anabel have been trying their best to give RJ care and attention. That is a challenge if they also have to take care of seven other children.

Most of the time, Randolph stays with the children while Anabel travels to the city as early as 5 a.m. daily in order to sell fish.

“I really have to work hard to have transportation money to bring RJ to his chemotherapy sessions,” Anabel said.

They are not rich. In fact, RJ is a service patient of WVMC. Being a service patient qualified RJ as beneficiary of Mga Kaibigan ng mga Kabataang May Kanser (KKK), a non-profit organization that funds the chemotherapy treatment of children who come from poor families.

Recognizing that medical treatment is just a part of a child’s healing requirement, KKK has launched Camp Kalipay, a weekend camping activity for the beneficiaries so that they, too can enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

KKK is holding Camp Kalipay on May 8-10, 2014 at Sol Y Mar Family Resort, Tigbauan, Iloilo.

“Life is full of uncertainties for children and their families living with cancer.  It is a roller-coaster ride of remissions and recurrences, hope and despair. For children with cancer and their families, Camp Kalipay offers a respite, with fresh air and nature, from the stresses of living with cancer.  The social interaction with others who share the same experience allow a safe and secure environment for sharing and allow them to see that they are not alone in their struggles. At the same time, spending time at camp allows the children and their families to gather their strengths anew to face the days ahead,” said Dr. Ma. Socorro Martinez, president of KKK.

Camp Kalipay will benefit the children and their parents. For children, the camp will provide avenues for fellowship, nourish positive self-esteem and help them gain skills they never thought were possible, build self-confidence and help them cope with their disease.

For parents, the camp will provide recreational respite and peer support and to help them cope with their children’s diseases.

The activities for children are; healing story and circle time, games and sports, arts and crafts, free play, swimming and camping.

For parents and caregivers, the activities are; health and nutrition, trauma release exercise, arts and crafts, and swimming, campfire and singing with the kids.

Randolph narrates last year’s experience. “RJ and I stayed overnight at the camp because after that, we had to go to the hospital for treatment. I saw that RJ was happy at the camp. I have eight children and we cannot afford to go to these places. But because of KKK, we had this opportunity to enjoy. At the camp, we learned how to relax and sing amid our problems. We did not get to finish the three-day camp but RJ received many toys. People have not given up in helping us and we will not give up, too,” he said.

Melody, mother of Sander Hitalia, also a KKK beneficiary said, “Camp Kalipay has helped us so much in the mental, spiritual and emotional aspects.”

She added that it was an opportunity for the KKK family – beneficiaries, members and volunteers – to bond. “KKK has made us stronger,” she said.

Last year, Camp Kalipay was limited to KKK’s beneficiaries. Now on its second year, the camp is open to other children with cancer.

Children and teens aged 5-17 who have had cancer diagnosis, whether in or out of treatment, can participate. Those interested should get the approval from their physicians, including a note of what activities they could join.

Camp Kalipay is also looking for sponsors who can make the event more fun for the children and their families.

For more information, visit and message KKK in Facebook.

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