Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner: A Lifeline for Families Facing Childhood Cancer

Every day, 100 children in Europe are diagnosed with cancer. Annually, nearly 6,000 children succumb to this disease, yet less than 10% of these young patients have access to innovative treatments. When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it creates a tsunami of emotions and challenges for their family. Over the past year, the Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner in Luxembourg has helped 314 families, including 30 new patients aged between 0 and 17 years, continuing its 35-year legacy of service, driven solely by the generosity of the public.

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Reflecting on its recent achievements, the Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner outlines the patient journey within the Foundation. This journey begins at the National Pediatric Oncology-Hematology Service (SNOHP), which connects families with the Foundation. The Foundation’s multidisciplinary team offers a wide range of services tailored to the needs of patients throughout their illness and beyond. These services include psychosocial support, educational guidance, and administrative and financial assistance. The team works closely with medical professionals to ensure a holistic approach to each child’s care, addressing both immediate and long-term needs.

Three key infrastructures facilitate this comprehensive support: the Maison des Enfants in Strassen, the Convalescence Apartment on the Belgian coast, and the Maison Losch, Parent House in Brussels, allowing parents to stay close to their child during hospitalizations. The Maison des Enfants provides a nurturing environment where children can continue their education and enjoy recreational activities, helping to maintain a sense of normalcy during treatment. The Convalescence Apartment offers a serene setting for families to recover and bond, while the Maison Losch ensures that parents can be with their children during critical times, reducing the stress of separation.

As part of its awareness efforts, the Foundation is actively involved in the second National Cancer Plan, aiming to improve patient conditions and their immediate environment. The Foundation advocates for more flexible family leave policies, allowing parents to take leave jointly, particularly in palliative situations. It also supports extending extraordinary leave in the event of a child’s death from 5 to 20 days, as is the case in countries like Greece and Portugal, to provide adequate time for the initial grieving process. These policy changes are crucial in helping families manage the immense emotional and logistical burdens that come with caring for a seriously ill child.

Furthermore, four working groups have been set up to improve the transition between paediatrics and adult wards, palliative care, legal improvements and back-to-school programs for teenagers.

On a European level, the Foundation is working to raise awareness among future parliamentarians about making the right legislative choices and budget allocations to increase the number of children surviving through better, more innovative treatments. The survival rate for childhood cancer can vary by as much as 20% across Europe, depending on where a child lives and receives treatment. Every child deserves the same chance to survive, regardless of its location. The Foundation emphasizes the need for equitable access to cutting-edge treatments and clinical trials, advocating for harmonized healthcare standards across Europe to eliminate disparities.

The Foundation is hosting two major events this year to support its projects: the second edition of the Rallye du Cœur in Luxembourg and the 7th edition of the solidarity run LËTZ GO GOLD. Funds raised during these events will support the ambitious initiative Fight Kids Cancer, which aims to “cure all children with cancer,” as stated by Anne Goeres, the Foundation’s managing director. “This year, the funds collected from the run will be dedicated exclusively to research projects related to brain tumours, which are among the deadliest in childhood cancers.” The Rallye du Cœur offers participants an exciting way to contribute by joining a charity car rally, while LËTZ GO GOLD brings together runners and walkers united in the fight against childhood cancer.

Recognized for its public utility, the Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner operates solely through donations. Its annual accounts are audited, and it adheres to the code of good conduct of the a.s.b.l. Don en Confiance Luxembourg, ensuring transparency and accountability. The Foundation prides itself on its efficient use of resources, ensuring that the maximum amount of donations directly benefits the children and families it serves. This commitment to integrity and effectiveness helps build trust with donors and ensures sustained support for its vital programs.

“Our mission is not just to support children through their illness but to advocate for and contribute to the development of more effective and less toxic treatments,” says Anne Goeres. “Every child deserves a fighting chance at a healthy future, and through our initiatives and the generosity of our supporters, we are making strides towards this goal.” Goeres highlights the importance of community involvement and continuous research funding to drive innovations in paediatric oncology. The Foundation’s efforts are a testament to the power of collective action and compassion in addressing one of the most challenging health issues faced by children today.