Location: Hospital Materno Infantil, Asuncion, Paraguay
How can you make sense of this? Alice, sitting alone on a hospital bed - in a plain white hospital gown, poised, elegant, beautiful and waiting - for her chemotherapy treatment. It doesn't seem right, a sweet twelve-year-old girl and this cruel relapse of leukemia.
One of twelve children, Alice and her sister have made their way here to the Hospital Maternal Infantil, in Asuncion, from their tiny rural town of Minga Guaya.
Alice's story is particularly heartbreaking. Originally diagnosed when she was just five years old, she went through extensive treatments. The costs associated with her illness were crushing for the family of 14.
Jose, Alice's father, works in the fields, growing manioc. His meager income was woefully insufficient for such a severe illness and prolonged treatment. He found a way to continue Alicia's treatment and she appeared to be much improved.
Jose's resources were finally utterly exhausted. They could no longer afford to continue the grueling schedule, so tragically, they abandoned treatment. Alice looked well and the family never understood the complications this could cause.
Their beloved child seemed normal and healthy. Years went by and then the unthinkable occurred. A lump on Alicia's neck and familiar symptoms were confirmed - it was a relapse of leukemia.
But this time is different. To her family's great joy, Alice is receiving leukemia chemotherapy drugs free of charge. The National Cancer Coalition has made this possible, through their donations to Hospital Materno Infantile. These cancer medications mean treatment for many children who would otherwise surely go without. Without this resource Alice's family would be facing a truly desperate situation.
As hard as it sounds, Alice and her sister can make the difficult journey to the hospital alone now, allowing her father the opportunity to continue working. With this advantage and the free NCC donated medications, Alice is confident that this time she will not stop until she is well.
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