“I want to tell all children with cancer not to worry, that all this will pass and that you have a purpose.” This was the message of hope shared by Sara Rodríguez, a 13-year-old former cancer patient, in her message of congratulations for the 40th anniversary of the AsociaciónLucha contra el Cancer Infantil – ALCCI.
Sara is part of the 75% of the boys and girls who manage to overcome childhood cancer in Costa Rica. For 40 years, ALCCI has provided, free of charge: shelter, food, transportation to appointments, medications and special equipment, as well as psychosocial and recreational support to all children with cancer in our country.
Zero desertion at the Children’s Hospital
As a result of this immense work, and always working in conjunction with the National Children’s Hospital (HNN), it has been achieved that none of the children suffering from childhood cancer abandon their treatment. This has given support and hope to all patients and their families.
On September 10, 1980, under the motto “Thank you for saving my life without knowing me”, ALCCI was founded. This initiative, promoted by Dr. Francisco Lobo and Dr. Elías Jiménez, was the first challenge in the history of childhood cancer in the country that sought to provide additional support to the HNN Hemato-Oncology service.
And so it was, with the support of the International Women’s Association, which first began to knit hats for patients. This small action was a pillar to build the great impact that ALCCI would have in the treatment of patients with childhood cancer in Costa Rica.
“During these 40 years we have managed to give life and quality of life to the children who fight against this disease,” says Jeannette Argüello, president of the ALCCI board of directors.
First ALCCI hostel
At the beginning of the 90s, despite the support work that ALCCI had been carrying out, the medical team expressed the need to expand this aid. For many patients it was made difficult for them to find a place to stay for their daily treatment. This decreased the chances of success of the treatment provided by the HNN.
On November 23, 1993, the first ALCCI shelter was inaugurated. The first of its kind for patients with childhood cancer in Costa Rica. Twelve rooms, a small task force and a board of directors, established with the sole commitment of saving lives.
After 12 years came the second great challenge: the capacity of the first ALCCI shelter fell short. “Sometimes we had to place several families to share rooms or place mattresses in other rooms of the shelter to give everyone space,” says Olman Vargas, secretary of the board of directors. However, no one was ever denied help, it was clear how to offer support no matter what was required.
Consequently, it was proposed to define the objective of starting the planning project for the expansion of the ALCCI shelter, which was consolidated in 2014 with a total of 32 private rooms on four floors. This project, valued above a million dollars, was possible thanks to the support of thousands of Costa Ricans who said yes for many years to be part of our main fundraising activity: 90 minutes for life ALCCI.
In this way, over 40 years, more than 25,000 patients and their families have been benefited. In addition, work has been done to impart an education message nationwide through various early detection campaigns in more than 5,000 educational centers, since early detection can save lives.
“ALCCI represents support, hope and a smile for children with cancer in our country. The support of ALCCI is essential in the management of the disease”, comments Dr. Gabriela Soto, head of the HNN department of Hemato-Oncology.
We are living in times when good news is appreciated and that is why ALCCI wishes to share part of its history and work carried out during these 40 years by all children with cancer in the country.
“Our work goes on. We will continue to carry out various campaigns in order to continue benefiting all patients with childhood cancer in the country”, says Mayra Peraza V., general manager of ALCCI. “We have changed our image, made virtual events and identified new opportunities that allow us to continue providing support and hope to all diagnosed children”, she added.
Sara’s final message: “I want to invite everyone to donate so that ALCCI can continue with its mission of helping.”ALCCI seeks to continue with its mission to SAVE LIVES for 40 more years and you can be part of this history and great work. If you want to support this important cause, you can visit their website www.alccicr.org