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Dec 21, 2000

Child with cancer receives care in N.Y.

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There is one Belizean family that will have no problem listing the blessings to be thankful for this Christmas. Jose Sanchez, reports.

Maxine Gault, Belize Cancer Society of New York

“Clarissa is a very pretty little girl, when she first came to us she was very shy, but she is a bright child. She has never been to school since being up to New York, we registered her in school. She loves school, she loves to get on the bus. She is very visual, you could put anything in front of her and she could write anything you put. Unfortunately she doesn?t know what she?s writing, but she’s a very visual child, very bright child.”

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Looking at Clarissa now, it’s hard to imagine she has already come close to dying. Clarissa was diagnosed with cancer at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Realizing that the family could not afford treatment for the child, Dr. Egbert Grinage of the hospital’s Special Children’s Unit contacted The Belize Cancer Society of New York who made arrangements for Clarissa to be flown and treated for her illness in the U.S.

Maxine Gault

“Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow. The treatment is a two and a half year treatment. I was not aware of this until the child was brought up to me. We thought of it as something that would end in a short amount of time. The good thing is the first six months are the most crucial, so my husband and I have agreed to work with her for the first six months. Thereafter, depending on her prognosis at that time, we?ll probably either send her back home or keep her for remaining two years for the maintenance phase of the treatment.”

Clarissa is not totally alone in New York. For the past six weeks, her father has been right by her side. In the meantime Clarissa’s mother struggles to survive in Ladyville, while worrying about her loved ones.

Clarissa Ramos, Mother

“Well I just find out my daughter was sick. I just find her in pain, fever, then I took her to the hospital and the doctor said that she have leukemia. Dr. Grinage said to make her go take a first treatment in Merida. She has taken that treatment and when she came again, doctor said she has to make her take another trip to New York.”

“The people from New York are nice people to take care of the children that are sick.”

The doctors say little girl has a seventy-five percent chance of surviving. If the generous work of the cancer society was not enough to make this story a happy one, the Make A Wish Foundation is making it possible for dreams of a family reunion this Christmas, come true.

Maxine Gault

“I made contact with the Make a Wish Foundation and what they do is provide wishes to terminally ill or critically ill children. They are funding this project from flying the family up, putting them in a Hotel in the New York area, in a suite, there’s a stretch limo will be waiting for them at the airport. There’s going to be theater, dinner, whatever you can think of.”

The only thing we think is that this family’s Christmas, will be one that they will never forget. Jose Sanchez for News 5.

Gault says that the Belize Cancer Society of New York works closely with the Italian American Cancer Foundation which does free screening for prostate and breast cancer in the New York area.

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