Press Release
April 21, 2013

Senator Pia Cayetano brings hope to kids with cancer in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY - Senator Pia S. Cayetano today led the groundbreaking ceremonies of a transient home for children with cancer receiving treatment at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) here.

Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, was joined by SPMC officials and medical staff led by Chief of Hospital Dr. Leopoldo Vega, children-patients with cancer, and their parents, in simple rites to signal the start of the construction of the House of Hope Annex Building on Sunday.

The facility, funded through the senator's PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), is envisioned to provide 10 individual rooms which will serve as temporary shelter for the young patients and their parents. It will also have a receiving area, separate toilets and bathrooms for men and women, and a kitchen. A classroom will also be included to allow the children to continue learning during their stay at the hospital.

The annex building will be constructed beside the SPMC's original House of Hope which was built in 2007. The existing structure is a single-floor facility with seven rooms that currently houses 62 children and parents, according to pediatric oncologist Dr. Mae Concepcion Dolendo, who heads the Children's Cancer and Blood Diseases Unit (CCBDU) of the SPMC.

"The concept behind this project is to ensure that these young patients will have a temporary shelter, conveniently located inside the hospital itself, in the course of their therapy," explained Cayetano. "Treatment for cancer lasts for several months, even years. This project will help decrease the cost for the children's families and help ensure that they would not abandon the treatment sessions, especially since the patients come from poor families and faraway places from all over Mindanao."

In a dialogue with the children, their parents, and medical staff, Cayetano also committed to help further by donating children's books and toys, playgrounjd equipment, and help purchase medical equipment for the CCBDU. The senator said that her office will also coordinate with TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) to provide skills training for the parents who are staying with their children at the shelter to help them put up livelihood projects.

She noted that the location and timing of the groundbreaking could not have been more appropriate, noting that Davao City was recently given the Presidential Award as a 'Child Friendly City' while April is marked nationwide as 'Cancer in Children Awareness Month.'

According to Dr. Dolendo, SPMC is the biggest public tertiary public hospital outside of Manila and serves as the referral center for pediatric cancer cases in the island of Mindanao. The CCBDU receives about 100 new cases of child cancer every year and admits more than 1,000 patients annually. Dolendo added that every year, about 2,000 children and 4,000 parents and guardians from all over Mindanao - some from provinces as far as Zamboanga, Cotabato, Sarangani and Surigao - have made House of Hope their temporary home in the course of their child's illness and treatment.

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