CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A day when life comes first

HONG KONG (SE): Cancer is a terrible disease and apart from the agonies of medical treatment or the frustration of not being able to find the financial resources to pay for it, it places a difficult emotional burden not only on the person suffering from the disease, but also their family, friends and associates.
But for a migrant worker who is away from family and alone in a foreign city, it can leave them with the lost feeling of a refugee who has no soil on which to place their feet.
Although they did not see the possibility of helping with finances for treatment, a small group of cancer survivors and their friends from the Filipino community in Hong Kong got together in July 2007 with the determination to find ways of helping and supporting each other.
And so what is known today as the Filipino Cancer Support Services (FILMCASS) group, which today boasts some 60 members and lots more supporters, was born.
The survivors found out how difficult it is to fight cancer when they are away from their primary support group—the family—but FILMCASS was determined to find something that may approximate the love, care and sensitivity of understanding in order to support them.
The members of FILMCASS see themselves as forming a group that celebrates life in all its agony and joy, frustration and fulfillment, and once a year during October it sponsors a cancer festival in the streets of Hong Kong to celebrate this life.
This year, what is designed as a fun day to which supporters and people in the process of being treated for cancer or a life threatening sickness, as well as those who have survived and their employers are invited to celebrate their lives and to acknowledge and mourn those who have walked with them, but did not survive their struggle.
This year Edinburgh Square in Central was decked out in the group’s trademark pink and white on October 8 for an afternoon of music, dance and drama, including a tribute to those who have not survived, those in the midst of the struggle and those who care for them.
The contribution made by the many generous employers that stick by their domestic workers during times of sickness was also acknowledged, as the group recognises that it can be a tremendous emotional strain on any family and their heroism is truly appreciated and recognised as a sign of hope in society.
FILMCASS says that this is a huge contribution that can be made to one human life, as an insensitive employer, who may even blame the worker for her sickness or force her to resign, can force the burden of her condition to drive her to the stage of giving up on overcoming her ailment.
It is truly a group that has shared and experienced the value of respecting each other’s life experiences. 
It is itself a great sign of hope in human solidarity for which society can only be the richer.

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