Across the board, cancer is a heartbreaking disease, but this is doubly so in the case of children diagnosed with cancer. Leukaemia (cancer of the blood) is the most prevalent form of cancer in children, as well as cancers of the brain, bone, liver, kidneys, and eyes.
Yesterday (15), the Indira Cancer Trust, one of Sri Lanka’s foremost charitable organisations, broke ground on their latest initiative laying the foundation (literally) of Suwa Arana, a proposed dedicated paediatric palliative care centre – the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
The need for holistic palliative care for children
Approximately 750 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, and this number is increasing. This diagnosis, not only affects the child concerned, but also their families, emotionally, physically, and financially. Almost all children diagnosed with cancer are treated at the Apeksha Hospital, Maharagama.
A major difficulty faced by children diagnosed with cancer, and their families, is the need for accommodation for paediatric patients whose treatment regimes are long and require frequent visits. Many families are unable to afford this kind of long-term care, which only adds to the stress and trauma they are facing.
Suwa Arana is set to provide holistic care for children from the moment of diagnosis, providing active total care of the child’s mind, body and spirit, including multidisciplinary care for the child to give them their best chance at fighting their illness. The Suwa Arana concept is built on the idea that nothing else should matter to a family except the care of their child, especially things like where their next meal will come from, and where they can lay their head.
The Suwa Arana facility
The proposed Suwa Arana facility is a building of six floors with 32 individual family rooms, a rooftop garden, and a ground floor for dining with a recreational area.
Aimed at providing an optimal healing environment to stimulate and support the inherent healing capacity of children, families, and care providers, each individual family room comes designed to create a comfortable setting, with ensuite bathrooms with disability access, a sofa, cupboards, and beds for the child and their family. Each bedroom will also include a balcony with greenery and a soothing view. Some rooms are also designed with moveable walls in case larger family gatherings need to be accommodated.
The ground floor of the facility features a dining area and a recreational area. The dining room is designed to include nature and the facility will also include a specialised kitchen to provide nutritional home-cooked meals to patients and their families. The rooftop garden will also be designed to include nature in healing with different areas of the garden designed to inspire and renew the spirit, and cultivate a sense of peace, serenity, and healing through programmes on yoga, meditation, music and art therapy.
The Indira Cancer Trust’s new home
The proposed Suwa Arana facility is the latest initiative of the Indira Cancer Trust, which, since 2016, have worked tirelessly to support patients with cancer, both adult and paediatric. The second floor of the Suwa Arana facility will house the Indira Cancer Trust, giving them a new base from which to engage in their invaluable work.
The Indira Cancer Trust works on over 20 projects that support patients with all type of cancers, including Sri Lanka’s first helpline for cancer patients and their families, Sri Lanka’s first hair and wig donation programme, financial support, relaxation therapy, scholarship schemes, livelihood development, as well as many other activities, including those related to paediatric cancer.
PHOTOS Krishan Kariyawasam