Come July and all of the available options to treat cancer-stricken Sarah Jean Masinas will have been exhausted, other than a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Her mother, Rosalie Masinas, 45, is scared and worried that a shortage of funds will prevent Sarah’s treatment.
“A match has been found for my daughter’s bone marrow through an international donor registry, and this itself is a blessing. But we are still short of Dh200,000 from the total Dh900,000 needed for the transplant. The worst part is that we have just about five weeks to arrange for the funds,” the worried mother from the Philippines told Gulf News.
Masinas’ daughter, who is now 20 years old, was first diagnosed with cancer nearly three years ago while still enrolled in university in Manila.
“She had had a fever, and a blood test revealed suspicious results. A series of assessments later, the doctors told us she was suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia [a type of quickly-developing and relatively rare blood cancer that starts inside the bone marrow and can be fatal],” said Masinas, who works as a telephone operator in the capital.
She returned to the UAE and was admitted to Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, where, despite further cycles of chemotherapy, the cancer continued spreading.
“In April 2013, Sarah received the strongest cycle of chemotherapy possible, and now the only thing that can help her is the bone marrow transplant,” Masinas said.
The search for a bone marrow donor had been ongoing for a while, especially after doctors found that Sarah’s older brother was not a match. A suitable match was finally located last year. But the absence of bone marrow transplant options in the UAE, and a lack of funds to pursue treatment abroad, has delayed Sarah Jean heading to Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, where the transplant procedure was recommended by her haematologist.
“My husband and I together earn Dh7,500 a month, and when my daughter was first diagnosed with cancer, she begged us not to look for treatment as the costs would simply drown us in debt. Thankfully, the chemotherapy was provided free of cost for her,” Masinas said.
“But the doctors have said that these treatments are no longer effective and without the transplant, my daughter’s failing health will just deteriorate further. The bone marrow of the matched donor will become available in five weeks and if Sarah doesn’t get the surgery then, the effectiveness of any transplant in future will be much less. Any help and donations will therefore be the greatest kindness upon our family,” she added.
Previous fundraising initiatives have included efforts by various community members. Masinas herself sold cancer-awareness T-shirts to raise Dh40,000, and she said that liberal contributions from strangers and well-wishers had helped collect the rest.
“We welcome your generosity and donation in these last few weeks, as they will determine Sarah’s fate,” Masinas added.
You can attend the charity auction tonight (17th June) at the Gramercy hosted by Kris Fade or send your donations to www.youcaring.com/sarahjeanbmtfund