We’ve had a very busy day here in the Philippines; it started with a 3.5 hour journey by road to General Santos City in the south of the island of Mindanao. Once we arrived we went straight to St Elizabeth Hospital,one of the satellite centres in the Mindanao Paediatric Cancer Care Network. The hospital administration are extremely supportive of the inclusion of this hospital in the network. Its position in the south means many families who would find it difficult to reach Davao have a reliable place to come for cancer diagnosis and treatment – and sometimes referral.
The team here have two beds available for children with cancer, provided free of charge even though this is a private hospital. Maria Christina (doctor), Camille (nurse) and Lovebel (admin assistant) take care of the patients here and maintain close communication with Doc Mae who visits regularly to hold case consultations.
Camille, Maria and Lovebel – the team at SEH
We spent the afternoon at SEH with patients and their families. They came for case consultations with Mae, giving us a chance to find out more about their stories. The children were amazing and even sang a song to welcome us to General Santos City.
Nomarsen (12 year old Ewing sarcoma patient) and his father
Majika, 7 year old Wilms' tumour survivor
This area of Mindanao is absolutely beautiful, famous for coffee, pineapples and spectacular extinct volcanoes! The families we met today had similar stories of finding it difficult to access care due to financial constraints, but they also said how wonderful it was to receive the support they do through the paediatric cancer network here in Mindanao. Tomorrow we travel back to Davao then on to Cagayan de Oro the following day. Further news to follow.