My son Kyle is not a normal boy. This week he took up a teddy bear and hugged it, then brought it to me and ordered, “Hug.”
RBC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society (TTCS) that will see the TTCS administering the RBC/RBTT Caribbean Children’s Cancer Fund.
Suresh Sookoo, CEO, Caribbean Banking, RBC presented a cheque for US$775,000 (TT$5 million) to Dr George Laquis of the TTCS. This represents RBC’s fifth and final commitment of US$200,000 (TT$1.2 million) to the fund and US$575,000 which represents the proceeds of various employee fundraising activities and generous donations from the fund’s well wishers.
The fund was established in 2009 to assist cancer patient 16 years and under in any region in the Caribbean where RBC and RBTT operate. Since its inception RBC has committed US$200,000 annually to the fund. Over the years the fund has made treatment possible for 35 children from Grenada, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Dominica and T&T, and 78 pathology tests have been funded to aid in diagnoses.
For more than 40 years, the TTCS has worked to increase the public’s awareness and knowledge about cancer and championed the need for early detection and preventative measures to reduce the incidence of cancer through education and advocacy. Suresh Sookoo believes this partnership will be vital to providing the kind of quality care so many children throughout the Caribbean need.
“Cancer is the number one disease killer among children, surpassing that of asthma, diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. While some forms of childhood cancer have proven to be resistant to treatment, approximately 75 per cent of the children diagnosed with cancer can be cured,” Sookoo said.
“However diagnosis often comes too late after the cancer is at an advanced stage. We are hoping that with this partnership with the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society that we can provide more opportunities for early diagnosis and treatment and help save the lives of children throughout the Caribbean.” Chairman emeritus of the Cancer Society Dr George Laquis agrees that this partnership is imperative.
“I have continuously reiterated the call for the establishment of a national and regional cancer control programme to comprehensively tackle this disease. Working together with RBC/RBTT we can finally have a holistic approach to childhood cancers which includes not only early detection and treatment but promoting lifestyle changes and providing psychological support for children and their families,” he said.
“The reality throughout the Caribbean is that parents find themselves financially unprepared to deal with their child being diagnosed with cancer. As a result, they are unable to attain the appropriate medical attention required due to cost.” Dr Laquis is urging parents and or guardians of children 16 years and under who have been diagnosed and reside in countries where RBC/RBTT operates to apply online at rbcroyalbank.com/caribbean/give-hope-save-lives.
Chairman of the Cancer Society, Dr Jacqueline Sabga, also expressed her gratitude. “We sincerely thank RBC/RBTT for placing their confidence in The Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society. We are both privileged and honoured to be the administrator of the Caribbean Children’s Cancer Fund. This initiative will not only help to save the lives of children in our region, it will also provide a glimmer of hope for their parents as diagnosis and treatment can now become a reality.”