St. Jude Inspire | Audio Stories
SPECIAL REPORT: UKRAINE
The chain remains unbroken
St. Jude Inspire podcast host Geoffrey Redick talks with writer Kristina Goetz about Natalia Vilcu’s experiences helping pediatric cancer patients leave Ukraine to continue treatment.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Natalia Vilcu could hear the airstrikes. She lives in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. Through the air, the city is less than a hundred miles from Odessa in Ukraine, one of the first places Russian forces hit.
Natalia runs a foundation called Life Without Leukemia. It’s part of an effort called SAFER Ukraine. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC, its fundraising and awareness organization, have played a coordinating role in that effort, helping to establish an umbrella of support throughout Europe and even into North America.
St. Jude Inspire podcast host Geoffrey Redick talks with writer Kristina Goetz about Natalia’s experiences helping pediatric cancer patients leave Ukraine to continue treatment.
Natalia Vilcu, President, Life Without Leukemia
On the uncertainties of living near a country at war:
“During the war, nothing is certain. It means that next bomb can fall just next to you. You have absolutely no idea what will happen the next day. It was like finding a cancer diagnosis, you know? It’s the same, like the world is falling on your shoulders. You understand that this is the reality, and you have to deal with it somehow.”
On the responsibility of following through, once help is offered:
“Once you are shouting loud that you are providing help, you have to do it. It’s not just an advertisement. Like yes, we are providing it, but when someone calls you, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, you know, our house is full, and we cannot accept you.’ Never.”
Kristina Goetz, writer for St. Jude Inspire
On the effort to provide help to Ukrainian pediatric cancer patients:
“So many people, separately, have talked about this worldwide effort being a chain. And that each woman is doing her small part in that chain, so it remains unbroken. What strikes me is that this story is going to be told for decades. The world will be different because of the efforts of the people in this chain. They didn’t ask why, who would pay, whether it was possible, whether it was even their responsibility. They just did it. Generations of families to come will be whole because of what these women have done.”