Many children undergoing chemotherapy in Lebanon now have nowhere to turn for treatment after an explosion destroyed hospitals and wiped out medicine stockpiles.
Text by Maria Abi Habib
The children being treated at Beirut’s St. George Hospital built an extended family with each other, painting and dancing together when they had the energy and rubbing each other’s backs when they vomited after chemotherapy sessions.
Now, these cancer-stricken children are struggling to keep up with their treatment and preserve the bonds they developed with each other over sometimes years of treatment, after a powerful blast ripped through Beirut last week and took their hospital — their home away from home — with it.
The blast destroyed four hospitals in Beirut, including St. George, one of the largest in the country, leaving many dozens of Lebanon’s youngest cancer patients with nowhere to go for care.
Adding to their trauma, many children were at St. George when the blast struck, causing widespread injuries and killing at least one of their parents.
Marita Reaidy has lived most of her seven years in and out of St. George from the time she was born, a fragile premature baby.
When Marita received her second cancer diagnosis last year, she returned to St. George and began rebuilding her hospital family, choosing her favorite nurses, and picking her friends from among the other sick children.
“My home is now destroyed,” Marita said in an interview. “This was my hospital. It’s gone. I don’t want to see my hospital die like this.”
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