Help for Puchi

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By Nef Luczon


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

JUNE Anne “Puchi” Mascariñas is only three years old when she has been recently diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia according to her father, Erwin, and by the time sees print, the family is heading to Davao City from Butuan City for a possible chemotherapy session in a special center there.

Puchi is our “honorary” daughter “inaanak,” her parents are Erwin Mascariñas, who works as a freelance photojournalist and Gracienett Castillo, who writes various online articles and other Internet-related jobs.

The idea of Puchi undergoing chemotherapy is such a horror to imagine considering her young age and little body. When the doctor said she had leukemia and when Erwin relayed this news to us, our hearts were broken.


We know for a fact that medical expenses would not be enough especially so that we have the similarities in terms of freelance work and the income we eked out from it – is just unstable. But even if they would be earning more, it’s still not enough. The doctor advised for a four-year chemotherapy session.

Good thing Erwin and Grace have good friends and relatives who can temporarily support the situation but they are still cautious to the long-term expenses and still needs help from us.

I can only imagine if Puchi’s parents are already struggling to find resources for medication, how is it more to those parents who only earn so little on a daily basis? Illnesses don’t choose what kind of people they are going to hit, but in the end the most vulnerable and more affected will be those children who live in poverty.

Based on the “2010 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates” published by the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS), leukemia is the sixth most common cancer in the Philippines with reported 3,153 new cases for 2010 alone and 2,609 death cases of the same year.

In males, there are 1,669 new cases and 1,381 deaths in 2010 alone and in females, there are 1,484 new cases and 1,228 deaths of the same year.

According to the PCS’ 2010 report, that with the new Aquino administration, the Department of Health will continue and improve the systems and methods of a medicines access program for children afflicted with acute lymphocytic leukemia, of which according to the group is the most common type of leukemia in children and highly curable with chemotherapy.

“Started in 2009, the program has benefitted around 300 children in 14 government hospitals,” the report said although it was not mentioned whether these 14 hospitals were situated from different regions of the country or just in National Capital Region.

Puchi may not understand yet what’s going on around her and her health situation, she still needs our help, more so a courage and optimism for her family and her parents’ friends.

We would like to thank all those who have helped her and those who showed intentions to further help with her medications. If you are willing to help, you can contact me through my email and I’ll course you through contacting Puchi’s parents.

Thank you very much.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 26, 2014.


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