My parents’ home in southeastern Romania sits on the banks of the Danube. Recently I was visiting from London and, while watching TV with my mother, I heard a woman say: ‘In Romania, one out of every two children who has cancer will die.’
I thought I had misheard and turned the volume up only to discover I was not mistaken. The woman continued: ‘The mortality rate is huge compared with Europe, where 80 per cent of patients survive.’
How, I wondered, is it possible that in a European country in 2020 the survival rate of children with cancer can be so low. I asked my mother if she knew anything about the woman speaking.
She told me it was Carmen Uscatu, who runs an organization called Daruieste Viata which means ‘give life’. ‘They’re building a hospital for kids. Carmen and her friend Oana. Last week I donated my very own brick.’