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$2M for cancer care - Kiwanis Club’s big project aimed at children with this life-threatening sickness

Published:Sunday | May 8, 2016 | 5:00 AMAndrew Harris
Professor Russell Pierre (left), consultant paediatrician, sharing a laugh with (from left) Dr Sharon McLean-Salmon; Pamela Lowe, public relations officer of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston; and Dr Michelle-Ann Richards-Dawson at the Club's annual prayer breakfast yesterday.

The Kiwanis Club of New Kingston is moving to create more awareness about children suffering with paediatric cancer as part of its efforts to mark Child's Month 2016.

Yesterday, members of the club staged their annual prayer breakfast at the Stella Maris Pastoral Centre and launched the project, which is expected to cost more than $2 million.

President of the club, Audrey Brown, noted that it is the responsibility of every president to carry out a major project, and this year her focus is on paediatric cancer.

Brown said she decided to focus on this area after she did an in-depth research and realised that this is a heart-wrenching situation, and she saw the suffering and pain of a five-year-old struggling with this illness.

"It is really heart-wrenching. I visited the University Hospital of the West Indies and met with the team there and was given a wide focus on paediatric cancer. So my thing was to see how I could work with this," said Brown.

"We decided that we would replenish an accommodation area for the parents, because we don't have one like that there for parents," added Brown.

She noted that a child can be admitted to the hospital for months and the area to house parents is critical to proper health care.

Brown said not only will the club be looking to refurbish the waiting area but it will also be trying to get donors and sponsors to assist them with ambulatory infusion pumps, which are used to assist in giving the sick children their medication.

So far, the club has managed to secure one of these machines, which was donated by Sagicor Life.

 

More awareness

 

Dr Sharon McLean-Salmon, who was awarded by the club for her contribution in the field of paediatric cancer, and Dr Michelle-Ann Richards-Dawson, who have both been working with children with paediatric cancer for more than 15 years, agreed that it is very important that Jamaicans are made more aware of this issue.

"One very interesting thing I see out here is that persons think that children don't get cancer," said McLean-Salmon.

"It is now a big sensitisation in picking up the symptoms, recognising that it does exist, and that it is not a death sentence, but it is a fight, and I will not lie to you, it is life-threatening, yet there have been survivors," added McLean-Salmon.

The Kiwanis Club of New Kingston is also partnering with Angels of Love Jamaica, a non-profit organisation, which has dedicated its services to abused and neglected children and victims of domestic violence.

Angels of Love has continually provided aid and support to children living with cancer in Jamaica.

andrew.harris@gleanerjm.com