‘Kindness is not a medicine but it heals’

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
âKindness is not a medicine but it healsâ
I Want to Share Foundation head Sheila Romero delivers a message of hope for children with cancer and their parents.
Article Title ‘Kindness is not a medicine but it heals’ Page Title Author Büm D. Tenorio Jr.

When you see kids with cancer smile or hear them laugh, you begin to realize how generous God is with His ability to bring happiness even to the innocent who are sick. The impact of their smile and laughter is so powerful that your own problems become miniscule, mundane even. In front of you are children fighting for their life, and yet, even for a moment, they choose happiness. Their hilarity is contagious. You inevitably absorb their joy, too.

God uses conduits to bring delight to the children with cancer at the Philippine General Hospital. One organization that has continued to bring help and hope to these kids at the PGH since 2015 is the I Want to Share Foundation.

That afternoon when Sheila Romero, head of I Want to Share, and some members of the foundation started to bring out the gifts and placed them on a side table at the tent-covered front yard of the PGH-Cancer Institute, the well-behaved juvenile cancer patients of the hospital had glee in their eyes. One or two kids, forgetting perhaps that they were attached to an IV line as they sat immobile in their wheelchairs, attempted to stand up in glee. Other children clung wistfully to their parents’ arms; their eyes, once pale and pallid, suddenly had luster.

“Activities like gift-giving bring hope and cheerfulness to the kids with cancer,” said Dr. Joey Ignacio, head of the Cancer Institute of the PGH. He has seen a thousand and one gift-giving activities at the hospital but every time such an event is held, he is moved.

“Kindness is not a medicine but it heals,” he said.

(From left) Trisha Bermudez Calma, Sam Bermudez, Monika Ravanera, Bonnie Tan, Sheila Romero, Dominic Roque, Tessa Prieto Valdes, Monica De La Cruz and the author.

“The impact of this activity by the I Want to Share Foundation will rekindle hope among patients and their parents. It helps because the kids are assured that they are not alone in their battle, that there are people who care,” added Dr. Ignacio, citing there are 12 to 20 kids at the cancer ward for children of the PGH and between 70 and 80 outpatients from all over the Philippines who come to the hospital on a daily basis. These children are being treated for leukemia, lymphoma, retinoblastoma, sarcoma, among other forms of cancer that afflict children.

“Bless the souls of those who find a way to make the moment cheerful for these kids. We have different kinds of problems and we think everything is falling down on us. But look at these kids, look at the life they are fighting for. Despite that, they can afford to smile. It is a wonder,” he said.

The children with cancer patients of PGH ready themselves for the gift of love from I Want to Share Foundation.

“We are here because we want to share,” Sheila said.

Since 2015, the I Want to Share Foundation has given financial support to the pediatric hematology oncology department of the PGH for the medicines, MRI tests, securing second opinions from doctors abroad, and transportation of patients and their families from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The foundation has also given free alkaline water and WiFi service to the hospital’s cancer department.

Dominic Roque and Tessa Prieto Valdes, who celebrated her birthday with the kids at PGH-Cancer Institute. PGH-Cancer Institute head Dr. Joey Ignaci

In the afternoon of the gift-giving activity of I Want to Share Foundation, which was also graced by celebrities Dominic Roque and Tessa Prieto Valdes, Sheila announced the new project of the organization to renovate the oncology-pediatric ward of the hospital. The foundation will help build a 10-bedroom, air-conditioned ward for the children with cancer this year.

Next year, the foundation will launch the Pediatric Cancer Help Desk.

“The help desk will help parents address their queries about their children who have cancer. It will also help them get proper advice regarding treatment from the right doctors, hospitals or centers,” Sheila said.

“We recognize that the treatment of children with cancer and to support their families is a community effort. The government gives its part, the hospital and its manpower give their part. But the impact of foundations is really huge. They support not just the medical cost but also the non-medical cost of cancer. I Want to Share has been supporting the food needs, transportation needs and even the psychosocial activities of the patients that truly give quality of life,” said Dr. Anna Patricia Alcasabas, head of the division of pediatric hematology oncology at PGH.

Indeed, kindness gives hope. It heals. *


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