Nina and I go for dinner with another couple, Alexis and Jimena, friends of ours, and Paco Arango joins us. We are at Casa Benigna, a great family restaurant in Madrid where grandma greets all guests at the entrance. Conversation is all over the place, internet, politics, the inevitable comments about the crisis, the Air France crash. The shock arrives with dessert. It is then that I find out, that while we are all going to work tomorrow, we realize Paco Arango has a very different job. A job that takes tremendous courage but it is probably the saddest that I ever came across. The video is in Spanish but even if you don´t speak the language you will get the story. Paco´s job takes place at a Children´s Hospital, el Hospital del Niño Jesus. And it is at this hospital where Paco tells children themselves, and his/her parents, that they have cancer. Doctors rely on Paco to tell them the news and deal with the shocking consequences. After the news is delivered Paco and his Fundacion Aladina help the children first, and then the parents, to cope with the terrible challenge of treatment, hope, but all too frequently, impending death. Many times children don´t die from cancer but of their lack of immunity. Treatment choices are still very primitive. We still understand way too little about cancer.
I arrive home and I have a hard time going to sleep thinking about the children I just saw in the video. As we go to bed, there are around 300,000 children with cancer in Europe alone. Children like Antonio, who died after making this video.
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