A cancer diagnosis always comes as a shock. Faced with such situations, the families affected need the support of people who can provide sound advice and are genuinely willing to help. That is exactly what the parents' initiative Krebskranke Kinder München ("Children with Cancer in Munich") does for children. EPCOS supports this work and is donating EUR 20,000 to the organization.
Based close to EPCOS' own headquarters in Munich, the non-profit organization was founded in 1985 by parents of children with cancer. Its aim is to improve the lives of the young patients and support them during their illness. "We provide help, because we as parents know from our own experience how a cancer diagnosis changes your life," explains Hans Kiel, chairman of the parents' initiative. "Nothing remains the same. Values, attitudes and sensitivities all change. The emotional burden and fear make it almost impossible just to get through the day." Dietmar Jaeger, head of Sales Distribution for TDK and EPCOS products and one of the affected parents, knows what it is like: "When our five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor, our world fell apart. We were only able to take care of the bare necessities."
A cancer verdict brings with it a flood of emotional, financial and organizational challenges. The parents' initiative supports the families affected by providing immediate financial aid, pays for extra staff and equipment on the children's cancer ward, arranges accommodations close to the hospital, and provides an extensive range of follow-up care. In the process, it collaborates closely with doctors, nursing staff and psychosocial teams. A number of dialog and information services add the finishing touches.
Data from the initiative shows that around 1800 children in Germany aged 15 and under are diagnosed with cancer each year. This means that 13 out of every 100,000 children under the age of 15 develop cancer. Today, 80 percent of children who suffer from cancer can be cured. Even so, these young patients often suffer physically, psychologically and socially. "That's why medical and psychosocial follow-up care is an essential and often lifelong challenge," Kiel stresses. And that is also why the parents' initiative set up KONA, a coordination agency for psychosocial follow-up care for families with children suffering from cancer. EPCOS is channeling its support into KONA. One of the things KONA does after the disease has been overcome is to help families find new routines, discover a new understanding of their roles, choose a suitable school and find appropriate therapies such as educational therapy riding classes. These services are meant not only for the sufferers themselves, but also their parents and siblings, many of whose own problems are overshadowed by the suffering of the cancer patients.
"KONA has been supporting us with activities such as weekends shared with other cancer-affected families ever since our daughter died two years ago," says Dietmar Jaeger. "That has really helped us to reestablish something like normal structures in our family. Sadly, you only tend to see just how important such organizations are when you need them. Every donation counts. So I am very happy that EPCOS has decided to support the parents' initiative this year."
One project affiliated with KONA is "Jugend & Zukunft" ("Youth & Future"), which assists former patients as they look to continue their education and find a job. "For the people affected, it is often difficult to gain a foothold on the labor market," Hans Kiel explains. "That can be due to physical and cognitive impairments in the wake of therapy, pronounced fluctuations in performance and interruptions in their schooling." KONA helps such youngsters as they choose a career and accompanies the application process.