50 children diagnosed with cancer in Estonia every year

Every year, about 50 Estonian children and young-adults are diagnosed with malignant cancer. On Saturday, Estonia celebrated Childhood Cancer Day for the fist time and to show support, people wore golden ribbons.

The youngest children diagnosed with cancer are just one day old. The most frequent type of cancer diagnosed is leukemia, ETV’s current affairs show “Aktuaalne kaamera” reported.

“Leukemia is a disease of hematopoietic stem cells; hematopoietic stem cells are the cells which derive from all the cells that circulate in our blood – red blood cells, thrombocytes, white blood cells. Every one of them has a function and if they’re not present, they’re not able to fill the function,” Ain Kaare, Head of the Department of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation in University of Tartu said.

Kaare said that what helps children to cope with cancers is hope and optimism, and they are able to enjoy it, when they are feeling good.

These courageous children make an effort over years in order to get better. Kaare noted that there are children in the clinic who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation three times in a row, which often adults don’t survive.

“In my work office, I have a picture on a wall by a boy who was five at the time, where he has written that “doctor Kaare is my friend”. In the picture, there was I with a bag in my hand and in that bag there were supposed to be the hematopoietic stem cells that we transplanted to him,” Kaare said.

Kaili Lellep, president of the Estonian Association of Parents of Children with Cancer (Vähihaigete laste vanemate liit) said that a child with a cancer needs a supportive parent around all the time to comfort them and explain everything if necessary, and to get their thoughts away from their illness. Children with cancer often stay in hospital for months.

On Saturday, golden ribbons and the golden light on Tallinn’s TV tower and at Tallinn’s Children Hospital (Tallinna lastehaigla) sent a message to hospital wards and homes alike, that seriously ill children are not alone and are being thought of, hoping that tomorrow they will be better. The golden ribbon is well-known all over the world.

“This ribbon symbolises support for children with cancer and support for the suffering of children with cancer,” Lellep said.

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