HOPE FOR KIDS LIVING WITH CANCER
Cancer has touched all of us in some way. It is likely that everyone who reads this has been impacted by its attack, either personally or because of a loved one. We are often asked how and why do children get cancer? Honestly, it doesn’t seem fair. Children should be able to enjoy their childhood, play and go to school, rather than having to fight just to survive. At Everlasting HOPE, we are doing everything we can to make a difference in the lives of Filipino children who have cancer and their families.
Everlasting Hope Childrens Cancer Mission (childrenscancermission.org) is an American 501c3 organization that exists to provide funding for services offered to children with cancer. We specifically work with Everlasting HOPE Cebu in the Philippines (everlastinghope.org). We are bringing awareness and enlisting financial support so that Everlasting HOPE Cebu can provide a safe haven for families during the most difficult time of their lives.
The Birth of a Dream
Kristina Andersen, the founder of Everlasting HOPE left America and made her home in Cebu, Philippines because she saw a need. She had the opportunity to help a family whose son had cancer. The family was overwhelmed and scared to go to a doctor or hospital, and they didn’t have money to pay for any services. They were confused and influenced by others who convinced them to try alternative methods of healing. In less than 4 months, this 10-year-old boy went from being a happy, healthy child running and playing and going to school, to having a knee bigger than a basketball, completely isolated from the community, unnecessarily suffering and dying in pain.
Kristina knew that there was a better way and wanted to provide a place where other children could have a different experience.
She met a mother who was seeking care for her 4-year-old daughter who had cancer. They had taken a 12-hour boat to Cebu because it was the closest hospital that treated cancer. They were in and out of the ICU unit and they didn’t have a place to stay when she wasn’t in the hospital. Kristina felt moved to invite them to stay in her personal home while they were going through treatment. The child couldn’t walk when they first met. She was somber and didn’t interact or engage with others. In a short time, there was such a big change. She was walking and there was brightness in her face, and she started sharing her light with others.
A Safe Place
Four years ago, Kristina and her team took a leap of faith and opened the Everlasting HOPE Cebu Center for children with cancer. Since then, they have helped more than 200 Filipino children and families. They offer physical, emotional, practical, and spiritual support to help families through this difficult time. They advocate for them and help find services and resources so their child will get the best care they can receive.
The Everlasting HOPE Center provides shelter for up to 12 children and their caregivers at any time. They have had more than 50 children stay in the Center since they opened. The families are given a free place to stay for as long as they need. In addition to the children living in the Center, there are over 150 community-based children that receive care and support.
Everlasting HOPE provides a comfortable place for children to be with other children like them. They have a safe place to laugh and play, do art projects, sing, dance and be silly; and enjoy monthly “Celebration of Life” parties where birthdays are enjoyed, and wishes are granted.
If we can’t stop cancer from happening to children – we at least want to give them the best days, months, and years that they have.
The mother and daughter mentioned earlier stayed in the Center off and on over those four years while continuing treatment. She is in remission and is thriving at home. She went back to school and has won awards for her work. The most beautiful thing to see is the smile on her face, the joy and laughter she has with her friends and the continued hope she has in her heart because of her time spent with Everlasting HOPE.
This is such a different experience from the first story. That family just encountered the pain, loss and isolation of cancer, and none of the blessings of community.
Of course, all of the children don’t go into remission and survive – but they are still success stories – because they died having lived their life to the fullest before. They were able to play with other children and have Wishes Granted, some as simple as going to the mall or seeing a movie in a movie theater for the first time. They were in a safe place, with love around them, and they didn’t die alone – and their families had people around them to offer comfort.
The most important thing we offer is Hope and Faith in God that even through the most difficult times, we are not alone. We can find peace and comfort in the midst of any storm that comes our way!
The Impact of COVID-19
As you can imagine, COVID-19 has impacted their situation and created additional obstacles for them. It is harder for them to get around because of very restrictive laws that are being enforced. Access to basic needs, food and supplies are limited. Children are having to stay longer in the hospital, more tests are needed and costs are greater.
It is important for the children to stay on their treatment schedules, but every time they go back and forth from the hospital, it increases their exposure and risk of developing any number of infections, including Covid.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
September is designated Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please take this opportunity to increase awareness for kids living with cancer. The need is great – our ability to help is greater!
We Need You!
Would you join our team in caring for children with cancer and their families? There are so many ways that you can make a difference.
> Ongoing Financial Support - $10,000/month ($120,000 a year)
Provides the day to day operations of the Center along with supplementing medical needs and transportation for more than 100 children and families per year.
> Reliable Transport Vehicle – Approximately $20,000
Our current vehicle is 15 years old and no longer reliable.
> Long-term Goal - Expand our services to provide a palliative care unit to support our medically fragile children.
We appreciate any help or contribution – no matter how big or small! Please consider sharing this link with your friends and family through social media, and to anyone you think might be interested.
We greatly appreciate you taking the time to read our story and learn more about the needs of Filipino children with cancer. We will keep you posted with updates and let you know how Everlasting HOPE thrives because of your support.
Please visit our website to sign up for our monthly newsletter and learn more at: https://www.childrenscancermission.org/