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Story of Alejandra Mendez
Alejandra Mendez

Mothers are all the same. We will always do whatever is needed to protect our kids, to prevent them from falling, having an accident, or getting sick. 

If the question was: What would you do to save your child’s life? I am sure that ANY MOTHER in the world would do whatever is needed to do so. Sell their home? Starve? Sell a kidney? What wouldn’t a mother do to save her child from death? 

And if a child is diagnosed with cancer, what would a mother do so that her child could access potentially life-saving treatment? 

I cannot even imagine how it would feel for a mother to know that there is treatment available to save the life of her child, but it is only accessible for other children. Not for hers. 

Mothers feel the same, irrespective of where they live. 

Children are children, irrespective of where they are born. 

Cancer is cancer, irrespective of where you live. 

Chemotherapy drugs are the same wherever you live. 

Yet access to treatment is not the same, depending on where you live. 

When my son Pablo was 2, he was diagnosed with and treated for a very rare and aggressive type of cancer: a clear cell sarcoma of the kidney. He relapsed 3 times during his childhood and each of those 4 times, Pablo was treated and cured in the US. In Chile, our home country, there was no treatment available for him. Nor in any of the other 21 Latin American countries. Here, in the southern hemisphere, he was only offered palliative care to die without pain. 

Pablo is alive, he is 25, he plays soccer, he’s finishing his studies to become a child psychologist, he has a girlfriend, he travels, and he has a full life ahead of him. 

This is only because of our circumstances: my husband was a student in the US when Pablo was diagnosed which meant that we had health insurance in that country. 

It hurts to even imagine that if we had been living in our home country, Pablo would not be alive today. 

This is not fair.  

I was fortunate enough to be on the happy side of this unfairness because Pablo is alive. 

But this unfairness still hurts. 

We can do better. 

We can do more. 

It cannot be that the main factor determining the chances of a child surviving cancer is the place where they are born. 

Alejandra Mendez