Going through cancer is a tough experience for the person suffering from the disease and also for family and friends. The strategies used by each person to find the strength and continue with life are very different. Very often, they share their experience on a blog, or they organise awareness-raising activities; they may even create a non-profit association. Here we tell you about some of these experiences developed in Spain, many of which extend beyond the walls of a hospital and reach very far.
Candela bracelets, one million Euro for research
Recently, all Spanish media have picked up on the story of the Candela bracelets allowing many people to discover an initiative launched by three girls, one of them with leukaemia, who have managed to raise one million Euro for child cancer research.
It all started shortly after Candela was admitted into the Sant Joan de Déu hospital and was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2013. A volunteer at the hospital showed her to make coloured bracelets and she did the same with two of her friends. These two eight-year-old girls spent the entire summer making bracelets and selling them in exchange for a donation; and that is how the Candela Bracelets came to exist. Since then the children from the eighth floor of the Sant Joan de Déu hospital, their families and friends have all become involved in making these bracelets.
The ARI Project, the legacy of Ariana
Aged 13, Ariana Benedé was diagnosed with leukaemia. For years she received treatment; first at the Sant Joan de Déu hospital and then at the Hospital Clínic. She passed away at the age of 18 in September 2016. Her legacy, however, lives on.
Together with two friends, they planned a solidarity concert as their pre-university final project; and this concert actually took place thanks to the involvement of family and friends. The outcome is the ARI project, raising funds for research and intensive support. Ariana started the procedure to bring the CART (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell) therapy to the Hospital Clínic. This is an experimental, minimally invasive technique that has reduced the number of deaths from lymphatic leukaemia by up to 85% in the US. The ARI Project continues to organise activities and raising funds for research.
Flowers against leukaemia
Flowers against leukaemia is an initiative started by Hugo’s mother. Hugo has just turned 3 and has spent half his life fighting against cancer. His family accompanies him along this process and make rubber flowers that they sell for 3 Euro. The money collected goes to the Fundació Josep Carreras.
Colles geganteres against breast cancer
On 20th November last year, more than 100 colles geganteres (groups of Giants), together with 500 musicians, danced at an unprecedented solidarity gathering in Barcelona. This gathering was to support Les Gegantes amb Tu (Giantesses stand with you), an initiative organised by the Colla de Geganters i Grallers La Força, from Sant Pere de Vilamajor (Catalonia).
This project started when Mercè, one of the veterans in the group, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The whole group decided to support Mercè and other women affected by this disease by creating the initiative Les Gegantes amb Tu.
Box to donate to research in your income tax return statement
This is what Inocencio Alarcón, the father of a girl who died from cancer, is asking for. Last year he launched a petition on Change.org asking for tax return forms to include the option of donating to cancer research. His petition has gathered more than 500,000 signatures, but is far from the 1 million set as the goal.
Volunteers united by marrow
Unidos por la Médula (United by marrow) is a group of volunteers aiming to “end the existing lack of information on donating bone marrow”. They have not set up an association and work based on solidarity. Wherever they go, they explain that “donating bone marrow is not dangerous, is painless and saves lives”. They have volunteers around Spain and encourage anyone wishing to do so to join their initiative.
Pablo Ráez, raising awareness on the need to donate bone marrow
Bone marrow donations in Malaga rose by 1,300% in 2016. This is largely thanks to the awareness-raising task carried out by Pablo Ráez. The young man from Marbella has leukaemia and in recent months has been explaining his evolution on social networks, going viral. He has called on citizens to make them aware of the need to donate bone marrow.
One in a hundred thousand, from a blog for families to an NGO
The day after his son, Guzmán was diagnosed with leukaemia, Jose Carnero started a blog unoentrecienmil.blogspot.com, in a reference to the number of children affected by this disease. He did this to “turn our struggle, our pathway and his recovery into a network of positive energy”. This was in the year 2010. Today, Uno entre cien mil (One in a hundred thousand) is a foundation that carries out social projects.
 Translator’s note: Spanish income tax return forms include a box you can tick to donate a percentage either to social purposes or the church. In this initative the petition is for these forms to also include a box to donate to cancer research.