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Ukraine Update: Cancer Medicine Reaches Children in Wartime

  • May 22, 2024
  • Mental Health
  • Vitalina and her daughter Sophia* in Lviv, Ukraine (Photo/Jeff Kennel). *Name changed for privacy

As a doctor working in an ambulance in central Ukraine, Vitalina had endured a lot, but nothing prepared her for learning that her daughter had cancer.

Just a month after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Vitalina noticed that her daughter had weakness on one side of her body; an MRI scan revealed a brain tumor. Now, Vitalina needed both cancer medicine and safety from bombs — a seemingly impossible task in wartime.

In Lviv, Vitalina found the cancer medicine and care her daughter needed — because of a partnership between Americares and the Ukrainian health organization Tabletochki.

Americares began responding to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine just after Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022 and focuses its support on local organizations, including Tabletochki, which is dedicated to children’s cancer care. Tabletochki works closely with Americares to identify and distribute medicines to specialty hospitals across the country; Americares worldwide connections to pharmaceutical companies ensure that needs are met.

“The support from Tabletochki and Americares is a matter of life and death for our patients,” says Dr. Roman Kizyma, head of clinic of pediatric oncology at the children’s hospital treating Vitalina’s daughter. “They have a chance to survive.”

Importantly, these medications are free, which is critical. “We are immensely thankful to the organization for enabling our children to receive these life-saving drugs,” says Vitalina.

To help with the stress and trauma of war and cancer, Americares has also provided Tabletochki and 24 other regional partners with mental health training and support for health workers and patients. In total, in the two years since Russia’s invasion, Americares has provided aid valued at more than $121 million to 83 local organizations assisting those affected by the war. Aid includes more than 500 tons of medicine and medical supplies, including the precious cancer medicine for Vitalina’s young daughter.