AFTER diagnosis of leukaemia, three-year-old Don-Don was admitted to the Children's Cancer Ward of the Prince of Wales Hospital in June 1988. As the child battled with the disease, his mother kept a daily vigil beside his bed. The next spring, Don-Don's mother, together with a group of dedicated doctors, nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists, parents of children stricken with cancer and other concerned people, formed a committee which subsequently evolved into the Children's Cancer Fund for the Chinese University of Hong Kong. However, at that time, the fund, under the patronage of Lady Ford, the wife of Chief Secretary Sir David Ford, assisted only the university's teaching hospital, the Prince of Wales in Sha Tin. It became obvious that assistance in only one hospital was inadequate and, two years later, having raised $19.3 million in donations for the on-going work at Prince of Wales Hospital, the charity became independent of the Chinese University. Renamed the Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF), the organisation was inaugurated in November 1991 as a government-registered charity, under the continued patronage of Lady Ford. Now in its fourth year of operation, the CCF serves child cancer patients infive major hospitals under the management of the Hospital Authority - the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Prince of Wales, Princess Margaret and Tuen Mun hospitals. The CCF's main objectives are to help doctors increase patient survival rates and to enhance the quality of life of all children suffering from cancer. It does this by caring for their physical, psychological and social well-being. Where possible, this service is also extended to the patient's family. Through public, private and corporate donations, the CCF has received more than $12 million in the past year. This generous contribution by people from all walks of life has enabled the CCF to realise all its immediate goals and set in motion expansive long-term plans. In Hong Kong, cancer is the second most common cause of death in children between one and 15, next only to accidents, including poisoning. Cancer in children, who are statistically defined as being 15 years of age and under, differs from that in adults in terms of incidence, prognosis and pattern. It is thought that the incidence of childhood cancer in the territory is comparable to that of Western countries, where about one child in 10,000 develops cancer each year. With an estimated 1.2 million children in Hong Kong, this figure translates into an expected incidence of between 120 and 150 cases, with mortality rates between 60 and 70 each year. The most common type of childhood cancer, occurring in 30 per cent of cases, is leukaemia, or cancer of the blood. Others involve brain tumours, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, and Wilms' tumour (kidney). Less common cancers are liver, muscle and bone tumours, and retinoblastoma (eye). Treatment differs for various cancers, but it generally incorporates chemotherapy (drugs that kill cancer cells), surgical removal of tumours, and radiotherapy (X-rays), or a combination of all three. The cause of childhood cancer is still under investigation, but no child is immune. The effects of the disease on patients and the entire family are just as traumatic. Children suffer excruciating physical pain without knowing why it is happening to them. They are anxious, distressed, fearful of separation and of death. Parents are devastated by the emotional strain of having to watch their child struggle against the disease. Even when the cancer is under control, they remain extremely tense, living under the continuing threat of a relapse. Through the dedication of many concerned parents, doctors and members of public, the CCF hopes much of the pain and heartache suffered by parents, as well as their children, can be alleviated by its efforts.