Children helping children

Children helping children

On the International Children’s Day Concert music students in  New York participated in an annual non-competitive performance that became a fundraiser to benefit Podari.Life.

Virtual Money =             Real Help

Virtual Money = Real Help

It's been only four months since we started accepting donations in cryptocurrency and the results are really amazing. More than 175 Bitcoins have been donated to Podari.Life to the moment!  

But the most important thing is that virtual money have already become real help. We are ready to tell you the stories of those whose treatment has been financed with the help of the bitcoins you donated! These are only three stories, but in fact your help gives dozens of chances for recovery. 

Thank You and Happy New Year!

Thank You and Happy New Year!

Thank you very much for being with us during this year. Your help and support provided us with a chance to make more than you think. We were able not only accomplish all of the initial goals for 2017, but exceed them and address larger causes than expected.

 

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Besides subscription to different scientific journals (2017 and 2018) and ongoing support to academic exchange between Russian and American doctors, you helped Podari.Life to raise money to enlarge medical libraries with contemporary manuals, disease atlases and reference books - while they have very particular cost, they are a priceless piece of knowledge so necessary to provide Russian children with diagnostics and treatment. Podari.Life also - with you kind support - bought and delivered to Russia 15 “Giraffes”, special suction machines designed for kids.

But this is not all: this year we were able to buy some important medications i.e. Kidrolase that will help 18 kids fighting specific form of cancer at Dima Rogachev Pediatric Hospital.

In November  we also started to accept donation in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. That was an amazing success! Our anonymous donors gave us more than 86 bitcoins! We believe that it is a huge opportunity for us to stand up for larger causes, providing funding and assistance in fighting childhood cancer in Russia and other former Soviet republics.

For all our three charities, Russian "Podari Zhizn" Foundation, UK-based "Gift of Life" and "Podari.Life" this year was a display of a miracle of your generosity. On behalf on those who need your help and support we condone our wholehearted thanks to you for your effort to make the world a better place. We also hope you continue to support us, and we are short in words to say how much we appreciate your trust.

I hope to provide you soon - sometime in January - with our plans for 2018 and further updates regarding Podari.Life development. Undoubtedly, we have bigger goals and tougher challenges ahead, but I want to reiterate: with you, we are convinced to succeed!

Happy New Year 2018! I hope we’ll be together.

Sincerely yours,
Lelia Shergova

Do you love Boston as we do?

Do you love Boston as we do?

And do you know that getting to know your favorite city can become a life-saving event?


Mass We Are - Наш Массачусетс is a group for people who moved to Boston from Russia. Members of this group went on a date with Boston and decided to grant all the money paid for this wonderful excursion to our charity.
The walk started at Quincy Market and covered all the most interesting spots of North End.
The excursion touched upon historical and cultural background of our city. It became a great chance to get to know different Boston and fall in love with it again.
We are very grateful to all the participant for this decision to support our charity and we believe that is is a start to a great, life-saving tradition.

I thought it would be cool to end up so far from home. The illness couldn’t be that scary.

I thought it would be cool to end up so far from home. The illness couldn’t be that scary.

17-year-old Seryozha Sergeev, a former patient of Podari Zhizn and a cancer survivor, had to battle his illness twice. The first time, he didn’t take it seriously; he was too young to understand what he had to deal with. At six years old, the illness, the hospital, and the city of Moscow— all of it seemed like one big adventure. But when it came back, things went very different. Seryozha didn’t want to undergo one more treatment, and he didn’t have much strength for it either. Today, eleven years after he had first become ill, Seryozha tells us his story.

I learned how unpredictable this illness can be!

I learned how unpredictable this illness can be!

We already told you about Anton Gillespie — the doctor-to-be and junior student at Harvard University — who went to Moscow to get an internship at Federal Center for Pediatric Onco-Hematology.  Podari Zhizn and Podari Life helped him to get an internship and now, when the trip is over, Anton shares his impressions about work and fun at the clinics.

"I think that my time in the hospital was very valuable for me. First about my time shadowing the doctors:

It was a really useful experience to watch how the doctors interact with their patients. Before this summer, I did not have many opportunities to watch doctors interact with patients who were actually staying in the hospital, only with patients who were coming into their offices for appointments.

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It is definitely a very different manner because the patients in the hospital are much sicker, and especially because they are all children here. And I learned that there is not only one way — some doctors keep their visits very short yet present themselves as very knowledgeable and decisive, while others are very sweet with the children and take their time to make them feel comfortable.

I also had the opportunity to see how the family members of the patient are affected by the illness. I never realized how much of the care has to fall upon the parents, usually the mothers, who have to constantly keep watch of the child’s temperature, bodily functions, etc. I’ve seen how the children react to their own illnesses — some seem very sad and quiet as if they are contemplating the gravity of their situation, while others are upbeat and become very excited by even the smallest joys.

This firsthand experience watching the doctors, the children, and the family members was very useful in helping me to understand all of the emotions and dynamics of the relationships in the hospital room. Sometimes the doctors would try to explain the details of the diseases and procedures to me, but this wasn’t super useful to me, since I am not even in medical school yet and there was not much I could understand. However, just being able to observe everything was very valuable. It would have been nice to see a few more surgeries, but I did get to see one at least. And it would have been nice to switch around more between different departments of the clinics.

And about the volunteering — as I got a chance to spend some time with the children as a friend:

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The game nights and movie nights were a lot of fun and it was great to get to know some patients as friends rather than in a professional manner.

I saw that despite going through very difficult times with their illnesses, they are all really still just normal kids, and they love to play games and goof off and wrestle and tell stories and watch Youtube videos and learn bad words in English just like any other kids.

Sometimes I saw children at the events whom I had visited weeks earlier in their own private hospital rooms when I was shadowing the doctors, and it was very sweet to see that they had recovered enough to come to the guest house for rehabilitation.

On the other hand, there were happy, seemingly healthy children in the guest house one day who suddenly became very sick again and were moved back to private rooms the next day, and I learned how unpredictable this illness can be. 

It was a really great experience!".

I realised that I just really wanted to live!

I realised that I just really wanted to live!

We haven’t been seeing Yana Zaimenko who is now 29 years old for more than 6 years, i.e. her recovery from Burkitt lymphoma. It’s hard to recognize the Yana from 2009 in this serious and stern woman.  Yana doesn’t look and doesn’t consider herself as a cancer survivor, she enjoins herself and her life, and we asked her how she’d learned that during and after her treatment.

Life is the most important thing we have. Treasure it!

Life is the most important thing we have. Treasure it!

Dmitry Belyakov recalls how he discovered his illness, and confesses how he wept as he came to understand what he was in for. Who helped him get over the initial shock? What does true friendship mean to him? How does he feel about his illness now? We hear about it all through the manly frankness of Dima’s retelling.

How’s it going now?

Everything’s good. I am sophomore at the Moscow University of Technology; I want to be a programmer. All my spare time goes towards my education. I also read a lot. Sounds a little boring, I know, the typical good student. But of course I find time for friends too. We go out, we have fun, and in that respect things are entirely typical.

One of your friends, Artur Avetisyan, was once in Podari Zhizn’s care. Did you become friends at the hospital?

That’s right. Artur and I became friends right after I arrived at the rehab clinic attached to the Russian Children’s Clinical Hospital. Artur was the one who managed to get me moving again with his chatter, his jokes, and just with his presence and his companionship. He pulled me out of my state of shock. After we got better, we were both home-schooled, so we could spend hours sitting in Skype and talking about everything and nothing. We became real friends—but not because of our shared suffering. I felt a colossal amount of support from him, and he did the same from me. Even though fate brought us together in a rather tragic way, I’m glad Artur became the part of my life. He’s a true friend whose loyalty has been proved through the most terrible challenges of our lives.

Was it hard to go through treatment at first?

Yes. I’ll always remember my first thirty days at the hospital. It was a fitness test of the mind and body strength. Before the illness I was a very active kid. I did a lot of things, went for walks, played football, crafted things at home. I was top of my class in PE. And when I found out I had cancer, I reacted in an unmanly fashion, to put it kindly. I cried like a little girl, that is! The very thought of having to spend a long time in hospital, far away from my home, my family and my friends, terrified me. To be honest, until the last moment I hoped that it would pass, that the illness would disappear somewhere, that it was a side effect of puberty. My plans for a happy, quiet and peaceful life had no room for leukemia. At the hospital I wanted to do nothing, especially to get treatment. I’d been just lying there and staring at the ceiling. I had zero motivation.

How did you climb out of that abyss?

I guess time really is a great healer. During that awful month, I found myself to be left completely alone. I knew that no amount of talking, persuasion, jokes or gifts would help. I had to personally come to terms with what was happening, and most importantly, I had to figure out how to live with it—to accept it and go with the flow, or to fight.

And what did you decide?

To fight, of course. Without fighting, without a crazy desire to recover, there’s no way to beat this disease. Besides, I was already ten then, and I understood a lot. For example, I understood that I was precious to my parents, and that for their sake, and for the sake of my future, I had no right to give up. My mum was always by my side, of course, and she experienced my all my highest and lowest moments firsthand. She cheered me up as best she could, and during the most challenging times she was the pillow into which I could cry until I felt better. I remember what I was like while I was taking hormones—a flat-out unbearable, capricious child. So I’m endlessly grateful to my mum for her patience and understanding.

You spent quite a lot of time in hospital. There must have been good things as well.

Yes, of course. In fact, the good outweighed the bad. We had a little friendly group of boys and girls. We’d often gather in someone’s room to chat or play board games. Any game played with my peers felt like it was placing our lives on pause. We’d forget that we were in hospital and that each of us had a mortal enemy we were trying to overcome with all our might. Another thing that really saved us from dwelling on unhappy thoughts was the trips organised by the charity. Even an ordinary outing to the cinema was something to celebrate. I can say with absolute certainty that these events really help children because they leave no room for unhappy thoughts like, “Another round of chemotherapy, I’m going to feel sick again… And how long am I supposed to stay on this drip anyway?!”

How did you find out about the Podari Zhizn Foundation?

It was from my mum that I learned there was a charity which would help me fight my illness. She was the one who told me how much Podari Zhizn does for people like me. I was stunned. I decided that if there are magicians in this world, that charity has to be where they work. And then volunteers started to come to my ward. From them I found out that the charity not only gathers money for medicines, but also offers moral support. Thanks to the volunteers, life in the ward became more fun. They know how to interact with every child, no matter how withdrawn. I was no exception.

What is “the charity”?

In my experience, charity is freely-offered help and support. People feel compassion for others, empathise with their suffering and try to help. Some share their inner strength, the way volunteers do, while others donate money.

Would you say that the Dima before the illness and the Dima after it are two different persons?

I don’t think so. I’d say I stayed the same, just without my former carelessness. Many say that illness makes children grow up. It really does. I became more tolerant of the people around me, and don’t worry so much about daily troubles and problems. The only thing that can drive me mad is when my peers talk about suicide. I have no idea how someone can even think about it. Life is the most important thing we have. You mustn’t waste it—you must treasure it.

What would you wish the children receiving treatment right now?

The most important thing: don’t get stuck on thoughts about your illness. Try to distract yourself, spend time with other people, smile, laugh! All this is really important right now. It will make your treatment go more smoothly.

By this letter I’d like to express my gratitude to the “Podari. Life” supporters

By this letter I’d like to express my gratitude to the “Podari. Life” supporters

Thanks to all our donors Alexander Druy from National Research and Clinical Center for Pediatric Hematology participated at the 4th Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Basic and Translational Research Conference held in New York, NY. Here is Alexander's letter with the explanation why such participation is important for the future of childhood cancer treatment in Russia.

By this letter I’d like to express my gratitude to the “Podari. Life” donors for the support of my participation in the 4th Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Basic and Translational Research Conference held in New York, NY. This conference was conducted by the Society for NeuroOncology of the USA and Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

The spectrum of the discussing topics was wide and included all aspects of the brain tumors in children: biology and molecular genetics of embryonic and glial tumors, comprehensive diagnostic and disease monitoring procedures as well as innovative therapeutic approaches. Embryonic brain tumors, such as medulloblastoma and atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor, enterprise the major research interest for us because two studies (clinical and translational) are now performing in our center. Findings in biological basis of these tumors reported in the presentations as well as fruitful discussions with foreign colleagues, led to new ideas how current research and diagnostic procedures could be improved by the introduction of revealed molecular markers.

We sure that increasing of diagnostic accuracy will result in the benefit for patient’s survival because of precise risk-adapted treatment conduction, reducing therapeutic intensity for prevention of late adverse events in low risk patients and intensification of the multimodal treatment for high-risk patients.

Problems and perspectives of precise and targeted therapy were raised in the Translational Therapeutics session. Several new substances were presented to be active against different kinds of brain tumors in preclinical studies.

These drugs could be salvage for those patients who do not respond to the standard chemotherapy or who do not have reserve for the treatment intensification.

High grade gliomas, the most aggressive brain tumors, are still a challenge for oncologists and researchers all over the world. There are not curative treatment options for this deadly disease. But past few years resulted in significant benefit in the understanding of biological basis of these tumors. We are looking forward to start performing comprehensive genetic testing for these patients in our Center. And all professional society hopes that the achievements in molecular biology will transform into finding of the key for successful treatment of such patients.

After the Conference the collaborative meeting of the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium was conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  During this meeting perspectives of collaboration between our Center and Consortium were discussed. The Consortium was represent by the leaders in clinical and translational research of brain tumors in US Adam Resnick (Philadelphia, PA) and Javad Nazarian (Washington, DC). After the fruitful discussion the directions of mutual research progress were outlined.

In conclusion it is necessary to state that participation in the Conference and subsequent research meeting was extremely useful and new ideas are now incarnating to the life in our Center.

We sure that this progress will result in significant benefit for children very soon and we see such examples right now.

The attendance of the conference was impossible without valuable support of “Podari. Life”. I sincerely appreciate all the donors of the "Podari.Life" public charity.

Alexander Druy, MD, PhD

National Research and Clinical Center for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology

Lab of cytogenetics and molecular genetics

I didn't expect how good this Federal Hospital really is!

I didn't expect how good this Federal Hospital really is!

Anton Gillespie was a junior student at Harvard University when he's realized that he's dreaming about becoming a doctor. Before entering the forth year he's decided to volunteer in Russia. Podari Zhizn and Podari Life helped him to get an internship at Federal Center for Pediatric Onco-Hematology.  

The initial thought was - I want to become a doctor, not necessarily an oncologist. But it's important for me to get an experience shadowing a doctor. To see how they interact with patients.
I came to Moscow at the end of June and since than I was with Sergei - he works with patients recovering from stem cell transplants and they have pretty strict sterile conditions.
I have not had any official medical training yet because in the US you get the academic training first. So I cannot participate in medical manipulations. So what we do is we go see a patient - the doctors sometimes let me listen to the lungs and explain for example that when you listen lower and don't hear anything, that means there is fluid.... all those little details.
The language barrier is not a problem because the doctors speak English and as for me - I have always been interested in learning Russian as my family is originally from Russia and I have this heritage. I'll start applying to medical schools at the beginning of next June so now is my time to settle with my interests.

 

Everybody talks about - when you have free health care, clinics are really bad and you better get to a private clinic. So I didn't expect how good this federal hospital really is. The quality of care, the attention to children, the volunteers and the quality of life are amazing. It totally blew my expectations.

When I first reached out to Podari Life - I thought whatever I'd do is great. And now I see daily work of a doctor, I spend 6 hours a day there. So I get a pretty good sense of what they are doing. How they communicate with parents and what the parents have to do and go through. I see all the paper work the doctors do. In America everything is more computerized.
I shad doctors in the USA, but never shad doctors while they are seing patients in a hospital - never had this "field practice".
As for the difference that I see right now - I think the doctors definitely give more personal attention here. Here the doctor's office is literally next door to the patient.
I'll be in Moscow till the end of July and I will also practice as a volunteer - I start that tomorrow and I am very excited.
I also plan to see the apheresis - when the donors donate stem cells. I've signed up for the bone marrow registry myself by the way - so I'll see how they separate blood components and I will shad in the operation hall.

It's hard to say right now what I want to concentrate on in the future. I shadowed in so many branches and that's how it works, you come to medical school interested in one thing. But then you start shadowing and understanding how it all works and that's when you make up your mind. I think oncology is very interesting, but also the pressure here is really high. For example some of the patients have very poor immune system and if they have fever you have to think really quick — their lives depend on it.

But you also help people survive - literally. And that is very inspiring. 

We are super-proud that the hospital we support impressed Anton so much. It is our goal to help Russian children get the best medical care available, and help doctors exchange experience and get access to the latest research.

We thank all of our donors for their help. 

Galya Bolshova

Galya Bolshova

"When I get better, I’ll…” and then whatever—get married, have children, study at university, learn cross-stitching. You see, when you’re trying to deal with a severe illness, it’s very important to motivate yourself, otherwise you might just get stuck feeling depressed.

Anya Trishechkina: My illness gave me a chance to begin a different life

Anya Trishechkina: My illness gave me a chance to begin a different life

Anya Trishechkina, our heroine for May, spent a whole year in a hospital. Her treatment was tough, and she found herself in intensive care several times. It was almost impossible for her to always keep her spirits up. But she found support from her grandmother, who fought illness alongside her, and from volunteers and doctors. After her recovery, Anya’s life has changed completely, and she considers that a victory.

Sergey Svyatkin:  Illness Didn’t Have a Chance

Sergey Svyatkin: Illness Didn’t Have a Chance

Everyone who’s worked at the Podari Zhizn Foundation for a while remembers our star for April, Seryozha Svyatkin— not someone you could forget. Seryozha spent four years being treated at the Dmitry Rogachev Centre for Pediatric Hematology in Moscow, and another two in Saint Petersburg before that. Today, Seryozha is no longer running that marathon. Instead, he’s become an extreme sprinter.