A few weeks ago I hadn’t heard of the International Childhood Cancer Day. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to be oblivious to the significance of this date since that is a reflection of the good health of my family. My hope is that you too can make this claim as well. However there comes a time in your life when your gratitude calls on you to look beyond the scope of your healthy home and peer into the window of a stranger.
International Childhood Cancer Day is recognized on the 15th day of February (appropriately the month of love). It is a global initiative founded in 2001, to promote activities in support of children with cancer and their families. Here in Baja California Sur, the capital city, La Paz was the State host in the recognition of this day.
The event, chaired by Dr. Rogelio Ortiz Batanero, Coordinator of the Childhood Cancer Program with the State Secretary of Health presented recognitions to various organizations, including Los Cabos Children’s Foundation and Amigos de Los Niños, for their contribution to the fight against this disease. Filling the seats of the movie theater venue was an assembly of caring individuals gathered together as an army fighting the battle of cancer for children and their families. United and determined.
Several individuals spoke of the successes and challenges experienced in Baja California Sur. I learned that our State, BCS, has one of the highest annual rates of Childhood Cancer in Mexico. I learned about symptoms for early detection of cancer in children and that many symptoms are commonly overlooked. Mothers shared their story of their family’s battle and their gratitude of the quality treatment now available in La Paz at the Spirit of Joy Children’s Cancer Center which opened its doors in 2013. Previously children diagnosed with cancer were treated out of state.
They thanked medical professionals and non-profit organizations such as LCCF for their valuable contribution, sincerity and care. A name echoed repeatedly in the course of the event was Maria Elena Hernandez de Covarrubias, the first lady of Baja California Sur, the wife of State Governor Marcos Covarrubias. Maria Elena was recognized for her action in facilitating the effective relationship between non-profit organizations (which contribute fundraising and vision) and established State Healthcare. The result is a productive assembly of professionals making a positive contribution in the identification, treatment and victory over many cases of childhood cancer.
It was a beautiful, touching event, done from the heart. What impacted me most was the genuine care and love of these individuals together with their passion and drive to persist year after year. With the conclusion of the event, I felt encouraged and proud to be involved in something that is going to impact people’s lives in a positive way. I am left feeling engaged in life, feeling alive.
The burden of this battle is one worth being shared with everyone here in Baja and beyond. Seeing people from all backgrounds, Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, some young and other not so young, mothers, fathers, grandparents, families with much and families with little joined together for the same goal of bringing hope and care for people in need is truly outstanding. It defined sacrificial love in a tangible way.
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