The Children's Cancer Hospital

The Children's Cancer Hospital takes care of 200 children with cancer. It is supported by Children In Trouble, some of whose funding is provided by the Chernobyl Children's Project.

The hospital is a modern building, and is well-equipped, thanks in large part to a donation of equipment from the Austrian government. It is a recognised centre of expertise in child cancer treatment, some of its patients sent in from other countries. The hospital hosts visits from foreign doctors keen to learn from their expertise - sadly bourne of much experience.

Most of the children we met were on permanent IVs for chemotherapy. Pushing or pulling the IV carts around with them wherever they go is normal for these kids.

Many of them also have to wear masks to guard against infection, the cancer suppressing their immune system.

Some cancer drugs are not available in Belarus. For example, drugs required for bone marrow transplants, without which the chances of success would be slim. The CIT last year arranged for over €900k's worth of foreign drugs to be donated by pharmaceutical companies.

Cancer treatment typically requires a hospital stay of a year or more. It is usual for one parent to live in the hospital with the child in order to provide the degree of individual care required. The hospital has kitchens in which parents can cook for their children.

The hospital has an excellent success rate of 75%. It was, however, sobering to think of the other side of this equation: one in four of the children we met would not survive.

With adults subjected to contaminated environments, some babies are born with cancer.

When you are spending a year in hospital, toys and games are not a luxury.

Children In Trouble also arranges days out for the kids, to the cinema, bowling alley and so on.

The surroundings are cheerful and child-friendly.

CIT volunteers help by repainting when paintwork starts to fade.

Teachers work in the hospital so that children can continue with their schooling. These were the results of a crafts lesson.

One boy who took up painting two years ago had an exhibition in one of the education rooms.

An anthology of poetry written by the children is now in its fifth edition. There was a ceremony taking place at the hospital to mark the acceptance of the children into a society of authors.

Another book was published of the poetry of one girl. She was one of the 25%; the book was published posthumously.

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