Children in the Muratsan Clinic

Local Group Raises Funds for Children’s Cancer Clinic in Armenia

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— A pilgrimage to Armenia in 2016 transformed Holy Trinity Armenian Church parishioner Cynthia Kazanjian’s life. The change was not so much in religious terms but in terms of igniting passion for a cause that has not left her.

Kazanjian and a group of visitors from the church were invited to visit the Muratsan Chemotherapy Clinic in Yerevan, specializing in the treatment of children stricken with cancer. She and a few others agreed to visit. The visit changed her.

Rev. Vasken Kouzouian was a friend of Dr. Gevorg Tamamyan, a pediatric oncologist and hematologist at the hospital, as the latter had been staying at the Holy Trinity parish house for a few months when he was doing a training session at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“When he heard we were coming, he invited Yeretsgin (Arpi) and Der Hayr (Kouzouian) to visit the hospital. We visited with my grandson. He was telling us about what they do at the clinic and the challenges they face,” said Kazanjian.

Kazanjian’s 10-year-old grandson, Vaughan Krikorian, was with her and her husband, Richard Kazanjian, and did not say much during the tour, during which they saw many children stricken with cancer. One child, she recalled, couldn’t even pick her head up.

“He didn’t say anything,” she said. Then, once on the bus driving away from the hospital, she recalled he said, “What are we going to do about this?”

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She added, “It made a huge impression on him.”

Kazanjian replied that she would try to find a way. She contacted Tamamyan, and realized the best way to help was through Dana Farber, which hosts the annual Jimmy Fund Walk to raise funds for cancer research. The Dana Farber Global Health Initiatives donates to different hospitals and organizations around the world. Through contact with them, Kazanjian and others were able to establish a link so that 90 percent of the funds raised by this group at the Jimmy Fund Walk goes to the Muratsan Clinic. This way, a trusted organization with experience in working on the disease is making sure that the money is going to the right place.

Kazanjian, of Burlington, teaches at the Kids Test Kitchen and works with the food brokerage company At Your Service Sales. She has been a longtime member of Holy Trinity.

“The children have no food in the hospital,” she said.

In fact, she noted, the hospital lacked everything: supplies, food, medicines, etc.

Feeding the children is, Kazanjian explained, the responsibility of the parents.

The hospital is accepting donations of non-perishables, such as sugar, salt, lentils, bulgur, etc.

With Kazanjian’s training as a dietician, she has been trying to set up a kitchen at the hospital for the children and families. She came back recently from a month-long stint there and is going to head back later this fall.

The children, she stressed, get rare forms of cancer which sometimes requires much more intensive treatment that also can be harder to pinpoint, as “you very rarely see them.”

Kazanjian spoke also about seeing one girl, Ani, a bright and beautiful 10-year-old, who the previous year at the hospital had been without hair and seeming very ill. When Kazanjian had gone back in May, the young girl had appeared with a full head of hair and bright eyes. She could hardly wrap her mind around the young girl dying that very day.

Kazanjian has been walking in the Jimmy Fund Walk for 14 years as she has had many family members and friends afflicted. and this year it marks her 15th walk. Kazanjian and her group, named City of Smile Team, are going to be walking for the second year together at the Jimmy Fund Walk on Sunday, September 24. The team is gathering at 7.45 a.m. in front of Newton Wellesley Hospital, 2014 Washington St., Newton. Walkers last year raised $27,000 for the hospital. Her grandsons alone walked raised $2,000.

They hope to double the amount this year.

Funds will go directly to the clinic, which is

affiliated with Dana Farber/Children’s Hospital Health Initiative.

The Muratsan doctors, Tamamyan and oncologist Liana Safaryan, are arriving in Boston on September 17 and will stay until September 24. Holy Trinity will host a public reception for them on September 20, 7-9 p.m. during which they will explain their needs as well as their successes. Also participating in the program will be several psychologists and physicians from Dana Farber.

To join or to donate, visit www.jimmyfundwalk.or/2017/cityofsmile

Another way is to write a check payable to “Dana Farber/Boston Children’s Global Health Initiative,” with the memo “for the City of Smile” or “for Armenia,” and mail to Cynthia Kazanjian, 17 Marigold Way, Burlington MA 01803, who will ensure that all checks are delivered to the Dana Farber Global Health Initiative.

Cynthia Kazanjian and the City of Smile Team from 2016
Rev. Vasken Kouzouian with Muratsan patients last year

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