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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A break from politics

Even though this has nothing to do with politics, I decided to post it because I thought it's very important and touching, and also a good break from politics.
The Fight Against Cancer

Nancy is three years old and she has cancer. Arriving at the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon for her weekly session of chemotherapy, with an almost imperceptible layer of fuzz on her head where her hair used to grow, Nancy beams at all the friends she has made since first coming there several months ago.

"She knows the names of all the doctors, nurses, therapists, and volunteers and talks to me about them all the time when we are at home," says Nancy's mother. "She looks forward to her visits and feels completely at ease here." This is exactly the reaction that those who worked so hard to set up the Children's Cancer Center in Lebanon (CCCL) had hoped to achieve.

Situated on the grounds of the AUB Medical Center (AUBMC) and affiliated with the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, CCCL was inaugurated in April 2002. In the two and a half years since it was set up to work in association with AUBMC, the non-profit medical institution has treated some 196 children, both as inpatients and outpatients. It has covered the medical costs that are not reimbursable by third-party payers, such as the Lebanese Ministry of Health or private insurance, as well as total costs in cases where no other funding was available. At present, CCCL is committed to covering the treatment costs of 50 new patients per year, but the hope is that additional funding will increase that number.

"This center is the first of its kind in Lebanon," says Dr. Miguel Abboud, medical director of the CCCL and professor of pediatrics. "In this country, children with cancer are usually treated in general hospitals, but we believe in giving them the special environment for treatment they require."

The center offers a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of children with cancer, involving specialized pediatricians and nurses. Therapists are also on hand to help relieve the stress felt by children and their families as a result of the disease. "After all," remarks Abboud, "a cancer diagnosis can be catastrophic, not only for the child involved but also for the whole family...It can be very difficult for parents and other siblings when a child is diagnosed with cancer. We want to make sure we deliver the appropriate treatment, while minimizing the negative impact the disease has on the young patients and their families."

The atmosphere at the center where the children are received as outpatients, though businesslike in purpose, is warm and cheerful. With its brightly painted walls, well-stocked playroom, and smiling volunteers at the ready to entertain the youngsters through the several hours they have to spend over each treatment session, the center is not only intent on saving lives, but is also very concerned with helping alleviate the trauma of the disease for its most vulnerable victims.


Nancy M

A thriving volunteer program headed by Mrs. Christiane Makarem is an important component of the center's operations. Volunteers play with the children, join in craft and artwork with them, and read them stories. Others help them catch up with the schoolwork they miss while undergoing treatment. "We try to help the children continue to live their childhood," says Makarem. "We also talk to the parents and help them deal with the ordeal. A cancer diagnosis turns the life of the whole family around; everyone is affected and all family members need to learn how to cope."

AUB News Highlights, March 11, 2005
You can check out the CCCL website here.

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