Lab analysis, surgery and radiology are covered, other treatments, including chemotherapy are not, nor are any facilities or aid to outpatients provided.
Guadalupe estimates that 30 percent of children with cancer are not receiving treatment and that 70 percent of these would survive if they had access to the necessary medicines and facilities.
Since health care is supposed to be covered by the State, few private organizations have grown up to defend the needs of the sick.
When Guadalupe found out that her son had leukemia, there was no institution specializing in the plight of children with cancer and hence no pressure group campaigning for better services and for research into the disease.
In addition, there was no awareness of the need to help the families of children with cancer who, as Guadalupe had discovered, have a grave need for psychological support.
Although Guadalupe recognized the urgency of a campaign to promote the plight of children with cancer, she had no idea how to finance, publicize or organize such a project. Since foundations of this type are extremely rare in Mexico, Guadalupe was confronted with disbelief and cynicism.
The Mexican Association for Helping Children with Cancer (AMANC) began life on a small scale with Guadalupe sharing her son's expensive medicines with a young girl whose family had no money to pay for them.
Working from her home, Guadalupe then identified the aims of the organization: to provide chemotherapy for every child that needed it; to provide adequate shelter for children and families coming for treatment to Mexico City from the provinces; to provide psychological support and to encourage research into the disease.
Since there was very little medicine available for children in Mexico, Guadalupe contacted specialists in the United States and arranged to import the medicines needed for chemotherapy. All this cost money. Guadalupe established an agreement with the government that enabled her to offer tax reductions on donations.
Guadalupe has established an organized framework through which she collects funds from companies, from private individuals and from charities. She keeps donors well informed of her work through a commercially sponsored newsletter that also builds awareness of the fight against cancer in children.
AMANC now has its own offices and a staff of ten. Donations have enabled the organization to finance the AMANC scholarship, an award designed to encourage medical research into child cancer; previously, no such research existed in Mexico. She has also purchased transplant equipment not provided by hospitals for the young patients.
Through radio and television, Guadalupe is promoting public awareness of the disease. She persuaded the state broadcasting system to give her free air time so that experts can talk about child cancer and what can be done to fight it.
Through a chemotherapy program, AMANC has treated 751 children of whom 147 have now been cured. Children from 20 states of Mexico are being helped through this program.
Because of the particular problems faced by provincial children, AMANC has been pushing for many years for the establishment of a hostel in Mexico City to get the children and families off the streets. Six years after her son's death, the organization has just opened a hostel offering shelter to 112 provincial children and parents every month.
AMANCs hostel provides three meals per day, transportation to and from the hospital and psychological support through group therapy. The fact that it was opened by the wife of Mexico's President reveals the impact of Guadalupe's conscience-raising efforts.
Nothing has come easily. The government would only donate the building, in a poor area of Mexico City, if the idea for the hostel was supported by the local community. Guadalupe managed to break down the neighbors' initial hostility by organizing water, electricity and telephones for the community and by setting up workshops in the hostel.
Guadalupe continues to fight. By increasing the fund-raising effort, she hopes to enable more children to receive chemotherapy and has already drawn up plans for an out-patient facility specializing in children cancer. Land has been donated by the government but the organization needs to find funds for the building and equipment. Once opened, Guadalupe aims for the center to become self-supporting by asking families with sufficient funds to pay for their child's treatment.
Her life changed dramatically with the news that her son had cancer. "Now I dedicate all my time and energy to AMANC projects," she says.
Guadalupe learned every step as it needed to be taken. When she first mentioned the idea of the association to officials, they laughed at her. She has fought prejudice, bureaucracy and ignorance to build a foundation that is taking strides to prevent the unnecessary death of children from cancer.
Using the Comprehensive Care Model for children and adolescents with cancer, designed by AMANC, Guadalupe's organization supports patients through all stages of the disease (diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and recovery). In each phase we try to reduce physical, emotional and economic exhaustion so that recovery, as well as personal and family development, can be achieved. The children and their families take part in recreational, educational and productive activities in order to acquire new skills. If a timely diagnosis is made, treatments are more effective; this is achieved by raising awareness among families, donors and volunteers so that the different ways of helping and being helped can be replicated.