By Yeva Margaryan, MD, MPH, and Ester Demirtshyan, MBA
On International Childhood Cancer Day (February 15, 2021), the Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Armenia (PCBDCA) held a series of events in order to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and other related issues. However, this year, along with the organization of the traditional events and interventions such as seminars, training projects, and social events involving patients with pediatric cancer and their parents, PCBDCA came up with a unique pen-pal project that would unify over 550 pediatric cancer units around the globe and provide much-needed motivation.
The idea of coming up with such a unifying project was developed while brainstorming at the regular staff meeting. The team members realized the importance of organizing a joint project or event with pediatric cancer units based in other countries. After a comprehensive discussion of several projects, which included a small group of pediatric cancer centers, we realized that there should be no discrimination and all the centers across the globe should be taken into account. Networking and collaboration are essential in this sphere, and every single pediatric cancer unit in every single country should be considered.
Our little heroes wrote down their wishes on postcards, which will be mailed to other pediatric cancer centers around the globe. Each child wrote with the hope that an unknown friend in some corner of the world would read their words and get inspired. Every motivational quote was unique, but they shared the same underlying meaning: “Keep smiling, hard days will pass.” Admittedly, patients with pediatric cancer receive a different quality of care in different countries. Their socio-economic classes, nationalities, and languages may differ, but their hearts have the same aim—to get back home, meet their beloved friends, and create novel stories with happy endings.
So, with this project, we wanted to emphasize that we are all in this together. And only with this approach are we able to conquer pediatric cancer worldwide. Sharing experience, knowledge, and expertise is vital to overcome the problem we share. Hopefully these postcards made by children in Armenia will give kids at different centers of the world new strength, and will encourage them in their challenging fight against cancer.
Dr. Margaryan is an executive director of the Institute of Cancer and Crisis. She is the coordinator of the Solid Tumor Multidisciplinary Working Group at the Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Armenia (PCBDCA) and a youth ambassador of the European Code Against Cancer (ECAC). Disclosure.
Ms. Demirtshyan is an executive director of the City of Smile Charitable Foundation. Disclosure.