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12 April 2022

Bombs outside, bomb inside

This smiling girl spent more than twenty days in the basement of a house in her native village near Mariupol, occupied by the Russians.

The life of nine-year-old Maria has been threatened by bombs of two types: Russian bombs from the sky and a time bomb inside – a tumor in her brain.

Maria’s mother tells how she tries to save her daughter from both.

“We were shocked when we learned about the disease. It started with Maria’s sudden ‘freezing.’ We went to the hospital; doctors told us that it might have occurred because of fatigue and overload. For six months, everything was fine. Then, these ‘freezing’ symptoms reappeared. We decided to do an MRI to find out what the cause was.

Doctors in Kyiv removed the tumor, but only partially. It was impossible to eradicate it because it had grown deeply into the brain tissue. The recommendation was to do check-ups every three months to monitor the growth of the tumor. Some doctors said chemotherapy and radiation were needed, while others said the therapy would do more harm than good. There was no unequivocal decision.

And then the war started – another scary story. There were bombings and shellings; Russians had torn down Ukrainian flags on the buildings – they occupated our village.

We were sitting in the basement. Problems with food and medicine began. I worried that the tumor would start to grow due to the stress. And we started thinking about how to get out of the village. Kyiv was shelled, and we did not know if anyone was [in the hospital] in Zaporizhzhia. So we decided to go to Lviv. It was scary to stay home.

There were no ‘green corridors,’ but we took the risk. My husband drove us. We didn’t know if we would manage to escape; there were burnt and shot cars along the road. There was a lot of military equipment and Russian checkpoints. Russians checked us at every checkpoint – they even inspected children’s phones and backpacks. 

We arrived at Western Ukrainian Specialized Children’s Medical Center in Lviv on Monday. The doctor, Roman Kizyma, looked at our medical documents and advised us to go in a convoy abroad for an examination. So on Wednesday, we arrived at the Polish center. It was a trip from a nightmare to paradise.

We have already rested a bit. I want to go home, but first of all – to cure my child.”

“Mom, why are you upset again,” Maria sees tears streaming down her mother’s cheeks and cheerfully says, “the only reason I am upset is that we have to leave this nice place.”

Maria and other children, together with their relatives, spent a few days at the Unicorn Clinic, a temporary medical center where evacuated children with cancer arrive. Then families go for treatment to the best hospitals in Europe and North America.

Maria and her family are now in one of Europe’s leading children’s cancer treatment centers. Here she will be examined and, if necessary, treated.

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News / 25 February 2022

The Foundation continues to work and accept new applications for help

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