For six months, Denise had been helping a 5-year old girl named Gryka who has retinoblastoma, causing rapidly growing tumors, first in her eye and then in her neck, that cause her constant pain.
Aside from taking her to doctors appointments, chemo and treatments, Denise has been raising funds for her medical care since her parents, Margie and Ramil, are very poor. Denise has campaigned tirelessly for Gryka from the Philippines all the way back to Germany, trying to get the best care and keep up with the mounting cost of the little girl's chemo and radiation.
Everlasting Hope is a non-profit in Cebu City that houses young children with cancer. Just a short commute to a hospital, it's a clean, safe, organized place for these kids to receive the treatment they need during surgeries, chemo, etc., as well as encouraging, supporting and educating their parents.
From their EverlastingHope.org website or Facebook page:
"Our primary focus is to help children with cancer by providing pediatric hospice care. Our heart is to support the child and his/her family by coordinating resources, medical care, advocacy, and connection to various organizations in order to provide quality care for these children. We help provide the much needed emotional and spiritual care to the child and family during this difficult time."
As December 25 approached, I was big on enthusiasm but short on a Santa Claus suit – not easy to find in the tropical Philippines, yet alone in my XXXXXL Filipino size. But true to the holiday spirit, a good friend of mine (thanks, Ate Faye!!!) arranged for the fabric to be purchased, the tailor to custom make a Santa outfit based on my approximate measurements, and even ship it to me from Manila. Another friend who was in Cebu even volunteered to come along and help towel off the perpetually- sweating Santa!
Denise is truly an everyday hero in my eyes, and it was her social media post about needing a Santa Claus that I came across that first led me to Everlasting Hope.
Now that Christmas and New Year's is done, I'll continue to support Everlasting Hope, as well as Denise's brave and dedicated work to help Gryka live with less pain and some comfort as long as she's able.
If you'd like to get involved or help Gryka, please email Denise or click here.