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7 moving cancer stories from around the world

On World Cancer Day, we’re sharing 7 powerful stories from child cancer survivors.


real life cancer story

Real-life cancer survivor stories

When you hear the word “poverty”, you probably don’t think of cancer. HIV and AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases are likely to be the first ones to cross your mind, but not cancer.

Cancer is a disease that has undoubtedly impacted every one of us in some way, whether we’ve battled it, or we’ve known someone who has fought that fight.

But when cancer strikes children in poverty, they not only face the fear we can all relate to, they also encounter the fact that treatment is likely to be out of financial reach. Cancer medicines are simply unaffordable. Even if they can pay for treatment, the nearest treatment centre is often hours away.

But today, on World Cancer Day, we want to share seven powerful stories of child cancer survivors. They’ve been supported by Compassion and our child sponsorship programme. We’ve been privileged to be part of their cancer survivor testimonies.

Let these kids’ personal stories of surviving cancer make your day:

From incurable cancer to survivor

The doctor’s diagnosis was bad. Emilia, aged ten, might not survive: she feared she had incurable cancer. Diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015, the young girl from Ecuador, says, “I felt like the entire world crashed down on me. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” As her condition worsened, she was rushed into intensive care, where she and her mum prayed earnestly to the Lord. Within days, Emilia surprised her doctors and began to get better. Six months later, she was cancer free!

leukaemia cancer stories

Thanks to her sponsor and the Compassion programme, Emilia received critical resources such as medicine, clothing and food. Today, Emilia is a joyful, loving girl from Ecuador and she credits her recovery to God’s faithfulness.

Moving real life story of a Kenyan cancer survivor

When Mackline started to experience stomach pains, her mother Rael was grief-stricken. Cancer stories were already a tragic reality for their family: Rael had previously lost one daughter to cancer. And her worst fears were realised when Mackline was diagnosed with liver cancer.

But this time, Rael and her husband didn't have to bear the burden alone. Since her sister's death, Mackline had been registered into the Compassion sponsorship programme in Kenya.

The team from Mackline's project and members from the church surrounded the family with love and support. They prayed, fasted, visited and encouraged. They wept alongside Rael, Sameson and their children.

cancer stories from Kenya

Mackline bravely went through session upon session of chemotherapy. To the surprise of her doctors, she responded remarkably well, quickly regaining strength.

Mackline’s early diagnosis saved her life. Today her real-life story is a powerful one. The young girl is in fifth grade, studying hard and growing into a confident young woman. She is astutely aware of the importance of access to medical treatment: "I have been blessed to be a blessing," Mackline comments with a smile. “I want to become a doctor when I grow up so that I can also use my education and training to help people triumph over disease."

A cancer patient story from Nicaragua

Francis was seven years old when she was diagnosed with cancer. After months of treatment for routine kidney stones with no improvement, an ultrasound at a hospital in Nicaragua revealed a kidney tumour. Francis' battle with cancer was long and challenging. But after rounds of chemotherapy, the test results came back clear.

cancer survivor story from nicaragua

Francis' mum, Dámaris, testifies, "God's blessings came from everywhere; the project, my church and other churches around. I got on my knees anywhere in the hospital and cried out to God in mercy. I fought in the name of Jesus. It was hard but good things happened. My husband came to Christ through this situation and now we are all serving God together. I praise God and give Him the glory, because we need to learn to thank Him in the tribulation too, not only in the good times."

Now in remission, Francis has been given back her childhood. Reflecting on her illness, she gives God the glory.


With God's help and the doctors help, I no longer have cancer. I thank God. My sponsor tells me that I'm God's miracle and that He has me here for a purpose. I thank God for letting me live.


When a young baby battles cancer

Baby Madeline’s first year hasn’t been easy, but mum Veidi Garcia is thankful for the support of the Compassion programme.

cancer support for a young mum and baby

At only a few days old, the doctors realised that Madeline was unable to open her left eye. Tests and analysis revealed a tumour which led to chemotherapy and surgery. Veidi Garcia says, “Every three weeks, we had to travel to Santo Domingo and that was very expensive. The [Compassion] programme helped with the transportation costs to the hospital, they covered some of the medical costs and also my daughter’s blood transfusion.”

Today, Madeline has a prosthetic eye, but she’s healthy. Her mother says of the ten-month-old, “She is just happy and cares more about having fun!”


Beating chemotherapy: a cancer story from Honduras

cancer survivor from honduras

Daniela is from Honduras. She loves to draw and skip. But when she was seven years old, Daniele fell ill with severe pain in her legs and feet.

After a trip to the hospital, the little girl’s condition grew worse and she was transported to a larger hospital three hours away where she was diagnosed with an immunological disease Wegener’s Granuomatosis and liver cancer. Fortunately, Daniela’s Compassion project helped the family by covering much of her treatment, tests, medication and transport.

Today, you wouldn’t know that Daniela had endured several months of chemotherapy. Her overcoming cancer story is inspiring. She is a bright, happy girl with a big smile.


When I grow up, I would like to become a doctor and help other people!


Remarkable cancer support in Bolivia

In 2012, 10-year-old Bolivian schoolboy, Luis, started to have fierce pain and itching in his left eye. His mother Jimena says, “We discovered the tumour because I took him to the doctor [who] said, ‘This eye is useless.’” Jimena couldn’t afford surgery, so the Compassion project stepped in, providing everything the family needed. Luis and his mother went everywhere with the project staff because Jimena couldn’t read or write, and Luis was able to receive the surgery with a private doctor. His eye was removed and he received a prosthetic eye and glasses.

cancer stories

Luis loves football and having only one eye hasn’t help him back – he’s the best football player in his school!

Luis’ mother is thankful for his sponsor’s support: “They are like a father and a mother.”

Overcoming cancer in Colombia

In Colombia, the numbers of childhood cancer cases are alarming. Each year, about 2,200 new cases appear. Pilar never thought her son would be one of the statistics. But when Bratner was six, he started to experience pain in his right leg. As the days passed, the pain grew constant and he was having difficulty walking. Bratner was diagnosed with malignant osteosarcoma, a cancer that pervaded his entire leg.

overcoming cancer in colombia

It was a life and death decision: allow her son’s leg to be amputated, knowing that this would change his whole life, or try to fight the disease with treatment and risk the cancer spreading and becoming fatal. Pilar decided for her child's life, and Bratner's leg was amputated.

Toda, Bratner is a smart, friendly and outgoing 12-year-old – and he has even learned to play football with his prosthetic leg. Bratner loves to attend his Compassion project, where he finds friendship and kindness in the staff and other children.

Pilar is thankful to the project staff for providing affection, support and help to her son. "I thank you very much to the project. I am so grateful because of their help and support. I cannot imagine our lives without them."


Each of these cancer stories tells a tale of hope and support as each child received vital medication, support and care from their child sponsor and our RESPOND Fund to carry them through their diagnosis and treatment. Maybe you have your own moving cancer story or perhaps you’d like to share these uplifting stories to encourage a friend?



WORDS : Corinna Stubbs

PHOTOS : Compassion International


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