the last 28 years, the Kriibskrank Kanner Foundation has been providing daily support to families of children with cancer and other rare, life-threatening illnesses. The CMCM’s financial and logistic support has been particularly relevant to what we do.

Whenever a child is diagnosed with cancer or suspected of having cancer, he or she is routinely transferred to a specialized hospital abroad for further examination and treatment. In most cases, the family or physician will contact us immediately with questions. Naturally, parents of children with cancer want to know about the hospital their child is going to be transferred to and have questions about things like how to notify their employer or the school authorities or how to manage the situation at home with their other children.

Several years ago, the Kriibskrank Kanner Foundation decided to provide these families with concrete administrative assistance. Thanks to the Foundation’s assistance, families are able to devote themselves entirely to their sick child and ensure the best for the rest of their family. The Foundation helps parents by relieving the burden of other responsibilities. In addition, we also walk parents through essential steps, for example checking insurance coverage, gathering important administrative documents like the S2 form and making sure the family has complementary insurance. If the family already has complementary insurance, we offer to cover the costs for as long as the family is in our care. If they have not yet taken out complementary insurance, we cover the membership fees. We also give families the option of having all their bills sent directly to the Kriibskrank Kanner Foundation for payment. This ensures that no bills will go unpaid, as simply forgetting to make a payment can have major consequences for medical treatments. We advise hospitals, doctors and other medical parties to send the family’s bills directly to us. The bills are then forwarded to the CNS and any charges that are not covered are sent to the CMCM. Any remaining fees are funded by donations. In 2016, we spent about €50,000 on membership fees for families in need. At the same time, we were reimbursed more than €203,000 thanks to the CMCM’s coverage in cases of cancer and rare diseases.

Unfortunately, many complementary insurance groups refuse membership to people with life-threatening conditions, but not the CMCM. We are very grateful to the CMCM for the assistance they provide in cases of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Other complementary insurance providers would only cover these cases at an extra cost. But the CMCM would never refuse membership to families affected by these terrible diseases. We know that the costs of CMCM benefits for our families are much greater than the costs of membership, which shows us that the CMCM is truly a committed partner. Without the CMCM, we would have to cover the difference with donations, which would keep us from using these generous contributions to provide further support to our families. On top of standard medical expenses, the CMCM also contributes to accommodation costs for parents and helps cover their other recurring expenses. What’s more, the CMCM covers the cost of a first-class hospital stay in Luxembourg as well as an extra bed for parents. Anyone with a family understands that no child wants to be left alone in the hospital and no parent can sleep in an armchair for an extended period of time. When it comes to paying for medications, the CMCM is also there to lend a hand to its members.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness, the whole family is turned upside down. Often, they have to travel abroad, and we are able to help them by offering a home away from home under these difficult circumstances. Even when abroad, members of the CMCM, both patients and their families, enjoy benefits and privileges like a first-class room. In some cases, patients have to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, sometimes three to four months. If they have the opportunity to leave for a few days, we rent them an apartment, so they can enjoy their time away as much as possible. This gives the family the chance to be together outside the hospital environment. The hygiene standards of these apartments are generally higher than in hotels around the hospital, e.g. no carpets, curtains or other objects that collect dust. CMCM pays the rent up to a certain amount.

Cancer also takes its toll on the body, leading to side effects such as hair loss. Children and teenagers—girls in particular—suffer greatly from losing their hair and need wigs. Since the CNS offers only limited assistance, the CMCM contributes to the cost of a wig.

The amounts available to members vary per year depending on the case. Each year, the Foundation supports between 180 and 200 families. About 80% of the children aged 0 to 18 in our care have cancer. The remaining 20% suffer from other rare, life-threatening diseases. Our assistance is tailored to the needs of those affected. Some patients are undergoing treatment and therefore benefit from a high-level of assistance. Other patients have completed their treatment and continue to participate in our music and art therapy workshops.

In short, we enjoy a privileged position with the CMCM and we are very grateful for it. Some cases are not covered by the statutes. With the CMCM, we have a flexible partner that takes even the most complex cases into account and helps those affected cover their costs. Together, we do everything we can to relieve families of other burdens, so they can focus entirely on their child’s recovery. When it comes to prevention, which was one of the CMCM's priorities in 2017, the CMCM allows the Foundation to take charge of certain, very specific cases.

After recovery or at the end of treatment, we advise our families to continue their complementary insurance, because the costs of membership are low compared to the benefits.

 

Anne GOERES
Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner