The annual Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) took place in Auckland (New Zealand) from October 26th – 30th, 2011. Physicians, nurses, psychologists, parents and survivors met to exchange information and strengthen their collaboration within the field of paediatric oncology.
More than 600 participants had found their way to New Zealand, among those 80 representatives from ICCCPO member organisations and survivors who were part of a very interesting programme. 13 survivors from Austria, Finland, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and United Kingdom attended the meeting. Sabine Karner and Michaela Willi, representatives of ‘Survivors Austria’, were responsible for the ICCSN (International Childhood Cancer Survivors Network) programme.
At the beginning of the survivors’ programme a film was presented followed by a lively discussion. The Film „Wrong way to hope – An inspiring story of young adults and cancer” showed ten Survivors from Canada, who made a kayak trip in an American National Park. The focus of this trip was the exchange of experiences including touching life stories. Further topics were country reports of the different national survivors’ activities and those across national borders, for example the Nordic Meetings or the project ‘Smile Days’, which supports the exchange between Japan and South Korea. But also the cooperation between Germany and Russia shows a good example how one organisation can help in the establishment of a local and national survivors group. The interests and cooperation between survivors were supported within EU (European Union) funded projects, for example the development of a Survivorship Passport, where survivors can express their needs and how an optimal long-term follow-up should look like.
The workshop „How to establish a survivors group and how to keep it going” offered a good possibility to collect a lot of ideas and recommendations. In the next months Sabine and Michaela will create a little brochure, including the results of the workshop and different possibilities of survivors groups’ structures, which will help to establish a local or national survivors group .
The evenings were reserved for different social activities, which were accompanied by Maori traditions and Kiwi hospitality. On the first evening, the „Meet and Greet” took place at the Ronald McDonald House in Auckland, where parents and survivors had a guided tour through the house and afterwards time to get to known to each other. At the official opening ceremony in the Aotea Center, named after the ‘country with the white cloud’, Maoris showed their dances and traditions. The New Zealand Child Cancer Foundation invited the parents and survivors to the parent dinner at the University of Auckland. After the meal we enjoyed the possibility to dance (see picture). On the last evening, the survivors met to a special survivor-dinner in a pleasant restaurant near the harbour. At the official closing ceremony children performed a wonderful dance show.
All attendants enjoyed the days in Auckland as they offered many possibilities for exchange which strengthens the collaboration. And everybody is looking forward to the next SIOP congress in London (4-7th of October 2012).
Sabine Karner and Michaela Willi