Zoe4life, for kids with cancer

104’203 francs for a new Swiss childhood cancer research project

On February 11th, it is with great honour that Zoé4life, a Swiss based non-profit organization, presented a chèque of 104’503 francs (roughly 100’000 euros) to the developers of a new research project which will be conducted in Switzerland.

The members of Zoé4life’s have raised funds for over a year through various activities in oder to fund this specific project which the CHUV Hospital in Lausanne is organizing in colaboration with the University of Lausanne. This new project will study the effects of sports therapy on children during their treatments. It’s benefits are twofold: the results will be studied and shared in order to integrate this concept for all future children, and it will actually benefit kids in treatment right now.

Thanks to the funds raised by Zoé4life, the project will begin shortly for kids actually in treatment.

Zoé4life, for kids with cancer in Switzerland

“No one fights alone.”

It is with these 4 words that our story begins.

In the spring of 2013, the Guignard family learned that their 4 year old daughter, Zoé, had relapsed. Zoé had been battling cancer since birth.

Now, a new battle was about to begin.

Friends and family of the Guignards got together to support them. ZOE4LIFE was created to help them through this battle. An incredible wave of solidarity was generated around Zoé and her family.

Zoé passed away peacefully in her mother’s arms on October 26, 2013 two days before her 5th birthday.

Her smile, her laugh and her desire to find joy in all that life has to offer was a gift and a lesson for all of us. She will forever be our motivation and our guide.

ZOE4LIFE continues its mission to help other families of children with cancer. Zoé’s battle has become symbolic of the battle against powerlessness, despair and injustice.

Together we can make a difference

Our mission is to:

  • support research elliotsuper (2)
  • provide financial support to families in need
  • support kids during their treatments
  • raise awareness about childhood cancer and the problems related to treatment

Creating Beads of Courage!

A fun evening! Last week we got together with our team of helpers from the Vaud Cancer League and the CHUV hospital personnel to create the beads of courage necklaces for children who are currently in treatment. The  necklaces will be given to these kids, who will then continue to receive their beads for each treatment. Newly diagnosed children will receive the start of their necklace, with their name, the LVC (Vaud cancer league) bead, and the bead of Courage (which is the Zoé4life bead 🙂 ).

The knit-o-thon! An amazing show of solidarity!

Pascale’s Knit-o-thon has been an amazing success! What a wonderful and original way to show solidarity and raise funds, while also having fun! Each small piece of this almost 6 meter long scarf represents a donation as well as a reminder that together, we can make a difference.

Congratulations to Pascale and thanks to everyone who participated!

The Quiet Rumbling That Turned into a Roar

Originally posted in July 2013.
Going GOLD for September.

This post is happy and it’s sad. It’s about hope, about taking action, about letting go, about grief. It’s about life, and death, and everything in between.

I dedicate this post to Adam.

 I mentioned in my last post that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Most people in the childhood cancer community are aware of this, but outside of our “world” few people know about the gold ribbon.

It used to be like this for breast cancer, it was talked about very little. Now, the month of October is very well known as Breast Cancer Awareness month, there are pink ribbons everywhere (and I will most definitely be wearing one proudly!).

The White House is illuminated in pink for the month of October to support this cause. Other monuments and landmarks also will turn pink in the U.S., in Canada, in Europe, in Australia, in the world! For a cause that used to be so hush-hush, this is amazing news. Awareness of this cause has increased research, which has turned this type of cancer into something many women now survive.

This year, a group of parents have petitioned the American government to turn the White House gold for September, for kids with cancer. Other groups, like A Day of Yellow and Gold  have been working on turning September gold with great success: Niagara Falls, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Zakim Bridge,the Prudential building, the Atlantic Wharf in Boston, the Battleship New Jersey, the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bridge in South Carolina all will be lit up in gold. Major sports teams are getting on board, the Philadelphia Phillies will have a golden ribbon on their scoreboard. And there have many other plans. In Australia, support for the  GO GOLD AUSTRALIA for September action is growing like a wildfire. Just last month an amazing documentary about childhood cancer won three Emmy awards, watch it here: http://www.thetruth365.org/.

 There is a movement afoot… A movement that started as a quiet rumbling, and grew, and grew, and is now a loud roar… We, the people of the childhood cancer community, are calling out to be heard! We want to turn September GOLD, and have childhood cancer moved out of the hush-hush quietness and into the spotlight!

A few days ago, Adam, a boy I’ve mentioned in previous posts, passed away. I have been occasionally in touch with his dad in my search for neuroblastoma treatments on an international level for Zoe but mostly I read his dad’s blog, hoping against hope that they would find a treatment somewhere that would work. I was at first overwhelmed with sadness when I saw his beautiful photo, still alive and healthy, looking like he was heading off to school. The unfairness is so bitter I can taste it.

 But I want to believe… no I NEED to believe that if that boy had been born today, we could save him this time. We could come up with some new treatment before the cancer got to him.

But who am I, to try to fix the world, little me in my little corner of Switzerland? What can I do?

But wait. I can at least try. Gold in September? Ok. Let me think a bit.

I live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, in between Geneva and Lausanne. What kind of monument or landmark is symbolic of our region? What could we, here in our corner of the world, turn gold to support childhood cancer awareness?

What represents this area of the world, and is known and recognized internationally?
Well… I sit and think a bit. I tap my nails nervously on the table as I think it over. A crazy idea. There’s no way it will work, they won’t say yes anyway. There’s almost no point trying…
Jet-deau1
The Jet-d’eau, in Geneva, is a historical landmark. In existence since 1886, it can be seen from far away, even from flights at 10,000 meters above.
And they light it up at night.
What if I asked them to turn it gold in September? At least for a day?
No, I’m thinking crazy thoughts there, why would they do that for me? (Yes, I often have conversations with myself. Yesterday, for example, I realized that I was strangely not stressed about Elliot’s upcoming scans for his one year-post remission check up. Then I said to myself that in the past, I was always completely stressed, and it all turned out good. So then I thought, but does that mean that this time the results will be bad? So now I’m stressed. Yep, that’s right, I talked myself into worrying.)
.
But hey, I’m also an eternal optimist.
So I said to myself (not out loud) “Why not? The worst thing they could do is say no, right?” (Well actually the worst thing they could do is laugh hysterically at me and print my  photo in the local paper with the headline “Canadian woman loses mind in quiet, conventional Switzerland”).
Fine.  I’m going to do it anyway. For Adam, who couldn’t be saved, but who’s life was so meaningful despite being too short, touching many families going through the neuroblastoma battle even here in Switzerland.  And for the baby born today who isn’t even diagnosed yet. Because there is a baby being born right now, who ‘s parents have no idea yet…Can we save him? Can Adam’s battle somehow mean that this baby stands a chance?
And I’ll do it also for all the kids in the Geneva hospital right now, just a few minutes walk from the jet d’eau. And all the kids in the Lausanne hospital, where I’ll be on Monday with my son, worrying. The Lausanne hospital, where I sat last week with Zoé’s mom, on a balcony perched beautifully overlooking the city of Lausanne and the lake and the jet d’eau off in the distance, having a coffee and digesting the bad news about Zoé’s latest tests. For the other mom who joined us on that balcony, looking scared and exhausted, and for her son who has the “good cancer”, a leukemia with a cure rate of 80%, but who is fighting for his life because of a massive fungal infection caused by the low-immunity from the treatment. I can at least try to do something to make people know that our kids need a voice. They need to be heard, they are crying out to be heard.
So I looked up the people who are in charge of the Geneva Jet d’eau. It took a little research. I found out who to contact. I made my pitch. I actually had to make my pitch a few times, since I was not always in touch with the right person.
My pitch was nothing very spectacular. Basically, I told them I had a kid who had had cancer, and was in remission, and that it was the worst experience of my life, and that many parents of kids with cancer would love to be as lucky as I was… And that I would really really like it if they could light the jet d’eau gold for at least one day in September.
And guess what.
They said yes.
THEY SAID YES!!!
So if you think I’m stopping there… No way. Let’s go GOLD for September. What else can we do?

Research

Cancer Facts
It is impossible to measure the impact that childhood cancer has on it’s victims and their families by using statistics but research funding decisions are often based on numbers. Here are some facts about childhood cancer for you to consider:

• Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children and adolescents in Swizterland and Europe

• Each year in Switzerland, approximately 250-300 children and adolescents 18 and under are diagnosed with cancer, that’s more than a classroom of kids every month.
• One out of every 300 males and one out of every 333 females will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.

• Approximately 20 percent of all children with cancer will die for their disease, a secondary cancer, or complications from treatment.

• The causes of most pediatric cancers remain a mystery and cannot be prevented.

• Childhood cancer does not discriminate, sparing no ethnic group, socio-economic class or geographic region.

• About one in 500 young adults is a childhood cancer survivor. Nearly 2/3 of the survivors later experience significant and chronic medical problems or develop secondary cancers as adults that result from the treatment of their original cancer.

• The average age of death for a child with cancer is 8, causing a childhood cancer victim to lose 69 years of expected life years; a significant loss of productivity to society.

%d bloggers like this: