The Por Una Sonrisa Association Hosts ‘Magic Week’ for Children Suffering from Cancer
“You can’t imagine how therapeutic a few days away from hospitals are for these children and their parents”
This summer, the ‘Por Una Sonrisa’ Association celebrated ‘Magic Week’ in Guadacorte: a few days where children and young people suffering from cancer can “disconnect” together with their families
“Only those who have gone through something like this can imagine how therapeutic a bit of fun and enjoyment can be… just the possibility of both physically and mentally getting away from the daily reality of hospitals and treatments even if just for a few days on a ‘magical week’” explains Ivana García Ros, with the sincere conviction of someone who understands.
‘Magic Week’ is the star project organized by the ‘Por Una Sonrisa’ (For a Smile) association, which has been in operation for nine summers with the sole mission of providing a few days of respite for children and young people suffering from cancer, as well as their families.
This July the event was held at the Guadacorte hotel, and activities included painting and crafts workshops, storytelling sessions, swimming pool games, a day at the Palmones beach, a social lunch in a well-known restaurant in Los Barrios and a show for children produced by ‘Animagic’.
The end of the week was marked by the Noche Blanca (White Night), which included flamenco, which sponsors and authorities in the region were invited to attend.
According to Ivana García Ros – the current secretary of the organization which is presided over by Eva Ledesma – 31 families from around Andalusia, and even from the hospital 12 de Octubre Hospital in Madrid, were able to enjoy Magic Week.
The invitations are sent through the hospitals, whereby the oncologists themselves meet with different associations and families to select the attendees in accordance with the children’s needs and conditions.
“One of the requirements is for the children to be in treatment and for them to spend their time with their parents or siblings, if any… It is not just a matter of gifting them a few vacation days, which has proven to be tremendously beneficial for them, but also to strengthen the concept of the nuclear family, which faces a lot of strain throughout the rest of the year under these type of situations, and also to connect families with other families that are going through the same situation.”
The secretary of ‘Por Una Sonrisa’ explained that in cases of leukaemia and childhood cancer, treatments last for many months, years even. In many cases, these include long stays in hospitals and multiple operations.
“For long periods of time, families battling cancer are not able to lead a normal life. One of our patient’s parents practically live in the hospital during certain periods, taking turns with their partner depending on their work schedule. Siblings, if they have any, are often left in the care of other relatives, and they too suffer from separation … That is why it is so important for parents and their children to enjoy a few days together, as they used to before the illness.”
At first parents were reluctant and fearful, and so were the doctors … But the passage of time has shown that the idea Eva Ledesma and her husband came up with, both founders of Por Una Sonrisa, was a great one, with Magic Week proving to be tremendously beneficial and therapeutic for patients.
“Those who haven’t personally experienced something like this can’t imagine what this time off means to the parents, who in many cases, need to keep returning to hospital for long periods”.
Ivana García Ros clarified that the work carried out by the volunteers of Por Una Sonrisa (the only association in the province of Cadiz that is dedicated specifically to childhood and juvenile cancer) continues beyond the summer and throughout the year.
“Basically, we are aware of the conditions patients find themselves in in hospitals. The medical treatment part is great, but then there is also the emotional aspect of being locked in a place where you cannot lead a normal life… And that’s where we try to make up for the shortages, with projects such as the ‘Jugando a Curar’ puppets (‘Playing to Heal’), and setting up playgrounds for children and young people, like the ones in the Jerez hospital for example.”