Your child has cancer. These are words every parent dreads hearing. In Honduras, such a diagnosis could be terrifying, as medical treatment was not always available for childhood cancer.
But now, treatment is available in Honduras and parents have hope for their children recently diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
In this blog, we’ll explore how a groundbreaking pediatric cancer center is helping those young patients and their families.
The Medical Center for Children with Cancer opened in 2022 in Honduras and aims to improve the quality of life of children with cancer.
The center was built through a partnership between Food For The Poor, CEPUDO and the Honduran Foundation for Children with Cancer. Cancer therapy is offered and medical treatment, along with pediatric palliative care through pain management.
The four-story, 12-bed facility, spans 13,027 square feet and is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. A specialized team of professionals is dedicated to the children’s unique needs, from diagnosis to treatment. The center treats about 29 children with chemotherapy daily.
Most importantly, the new medical center provides cancer treatments to Honduran children who previously had no access to that kind of care. What do parents pay for treatment? Nothing. Impoverished families who had no way to pay for cancer treatment for their children now have something priceless – hope.
How Deadly Is Childhood Cancer in Honduras?
Cancer occurs in 1 in every 10,000 children born in Honduras, says Carlos Sanchez, program director of the Honduran Foundation for Children with Cancer.
The new medical center is located in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The capital has the highest number of cases of children with cancer in the entire department of Francisco Morazán, which has a population of about 1.6 million.
“This center represents an increase in the health care system’s response capacity to meet the growing demand for children with oncological pathology,” Sanchez said, “which means that current and future patients will not have to see an obstacle to being admitted and receiving their treatment.”
Innovative Treatment for Pediatric Cancer in Honduras
The median annual price of cancer drugs has increased, according to a journal article by the American Cancer Society. Before 2000, cancer drugs cost about $12,000. By 2015, the cost had skyrocketed to more than $120,000, “several times the per capita gross domestic of any country in Latin America,” the article noted.
When it is factored in how many families live in poverty in Honduras, the cost of chemotherapy for children with cancer is prohibitive. About 50 percent of Hondurans live on less than $5.50 a day, according to the World Bank.
But at the new children’s cancer center, treatment is free. Relying on the generosity of donors, the cancer center is dedicated to saving young lives.
Dr. Gerardo Castro is a pediatric hematologist oncologist with The Honduran Foundation for Children with Cancer. The types of childhood cancer and their treatments vary, Dr. Castro said.
According to the World Bank, common childhood cancers in low- to middle-income countries are:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (blood cancer)
- Hodgkin lymphoma (white blood cell cancer)
- Wilms tumor (kidney cancer)
- Burkitt lymphoma (A form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that affects B-cells)
- Retinoblastoma (eye cancer)
How the Cancer Center Is Helping Children in Honduras
At the cancer center, it isn’t merely medical care that is given to children to help them cope with the diagnosis.
There are three main therapies the center uses to aid pediatric cancer patients, according to Dr. Castro.
- Physical therapy, which includes medication and treatment
- Emotional support
- Spiritual support
The medical staff also gives instructions to parents and relatives on how to care for their children at home, based on the idea that children can return home and rejoin the family.
At the center while undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments, patients are given items so they can better cope with the process and make it as pleasant as possible, Dr. Castro said. Items include:
- Painting materials
- Writing materials
- Magazines and stories
- Toys, including stuffed animals
Meet two young pediatric cancer patients, whose families couldn’t otherwise afford treatments, and read how they are benefiting from medical care at the cancer center.
Lali, age 13
Lali was diagnosed with leukemia, a deadly childhood cancer. The costly treatment was an expense that her family could not afford. Then her mother Erania took her to the new children’s cancer in Honduras, a first-of-its-kind facility. Not only did Lali receive treatment, but the pleasant surroundings are making it easier on the young girl.
“She has always been treated well and kindly,” Erania said. “Right now, she has few friends because we are just starting. We have been coming with her for three months. I feel grateful, first of all, to God, to the medical staff, and to everything that is provided here. For me, it is a pleasure to know that my daughter is being treated with all the medications she needs. And for that, I feel thankful and I also feel happy that she is receiving the treatment.”
Saida, age 3
Saida’s mother, Miriam, knew her little girl was deathly ill. She became very weak, did not eat and had bruises on her body. Miriam took her daughter to a local hospital in Honduras, where she was diagnosed with leukemia. Chemotherapy was too expensive to afford. But Saida was able to receive treatment at the new cancer center. Miriam thanks God for the center and its staff.
“We are very poor and who knows how we would be doing,” Miriam said. “God always sends angels.”
You Can Help Beat Pediatric Cancer in Honduras
Food For The Poor has provided new hope for children with cancer in Honduras by building this children’s cancer center. With the help of this center, more children and their families will have access to the treatment and support they need to manage their illness and lead a better quality of life.
Food For The Poor makes it easy to save precious young lives. Visit Food For The Poor online to discover how you can give a gift and provide hope to children with pediatric cancer.