THE number of families of child cancer victims approaching the Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF) for counselling and other assistance showed a significant increase over the past year, according to a new report. The CCF's fourth-year report for the period ending last month, says the CCF has made steady progress throughout the year towards the establishment of its Family Service Centre at Wong Tai Sin. Last December, a steering committee was formed to set policies, procedures and guidelines for the efficient running of the centre. In March, the Housing Authority approved the CCF's request to lease 2,000 square feet of space in the Lower Wong Tai Sin Estate. Today's opening of the centre provides a proper counselling and assistance programme and venue for parents and families of child cancer victims. Among those parents are the CCF's chairman, Miami Chow, whose child, Donovan (5), was stricken with leukaemia several years ago, and another tireless worker on behalf of the foundation, is its governor, Mimi Nash. All patient-related services and activities are now based at the Wong Tai Sin facility, although day-to-day administration of the foundation and its fund-raising activities are still managed from its office in Central. The CCF's professional team has been brought up to strength in preparation for the opening of the Family Service Centre. According to the report, regular meetings have been held throughout the year between patients, foundation members and staff, to discuss how the needs of child cancer victims can best be met. Individual counselling and home visits have been extended and are now available to patients and their families in the five major hospitals to which the CCF is so far affiliated. The report also says that during the fiscal year ending last month, the CCF was engaged in handling 38 cases referred by case workers and doctors to its professional team. The Parents' Support Group did not meet during the year because it lacked a facilitator. However, this activity will shortly be resumed under the guidance of the CCF's new clinical psychologist. Weekly play sessions are being provided by the CCF's team of volunteer play workers in all major hospitals served by the foundation. According to the report, the foundation continues to work closely with the Playright organisation which, in addition to advising on two other projects, designed and ran a three-day training course for the CCF's hospital play-work team. Toy cabinets were bought for hospitals to set up ''toy libraries'' in the wards, and activities such as art and computer courses for patients outside of the play sessions were also organised by play workers. Following the appointment of the CCF's clinical psychologist, the first of a regular series of lectures, courses, seminars and workshops on childhood cancer, plus all aspects of patient service, were designed and organised for the foundation's staff, volunteers and members. Provision of material and financial assistance to patients and their families during the year comprised: a pair of prosthetic eyes, 12 wigs, MRI scan subsidies, long-stay hospital allowances, assistance with funeral arrangements, special drugs, plus other general assistance measures. Sponsored activities for out-patients and their families included trips to Tokyo Disneyland (10 patients), Florida Disneyworld (two patients) a film screening of Aladdin, a voyage aboard the adventure ship Huan, a day of fun at an Easter fair and concert, a ride in a JAL plane, visits to a Jackie Cheung mini-concert, a Girl Guides concert and the Disney-on-Ice extravaganza, as well as the annual Christmas party. Toys, gifts, confectionery and lai-see packets were distributed to in-patients at festive occasions. These included Christmas, Chinese New Year, Children's Day and Mid-Autumn Festival. A recent large donation of toys and games enabled the foundation to stock hospital wards, the Family Service Centre and Santa Claus' gift sack at Christmas. Other items bought for children's hospital wards during the year were a cordless telephone for bed-ridden patients, a combined television/video recorder, and two computer games. The Parents' Club, now in its second year, has 139 members. The group has made a significant contribution to good communication between the foundation and parents, and among parents themselves. To shorten the waiting time for patients attending the ward and out-patient clinic, the foundation has provided resources to assist the Prince of Wales Hospital in a complete re-arrangement of its paediatric oncology files, as well as a redesign of thepatients' records storage system. A pill box and pill splitter, designed to make the administering of medicines easier, is provided by the foundation at no cost to families. The life-saving Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation Programme received funding from the CCF to buy equipment; rent, renovate, furnish and maintain three Halfway Homes in Sha Tin; and train specialist medical staff. A total of 13 transplant operations were performed during the year, four of which were for patients with childhood cancer and nine for others suffering from blood diseases. To improve treatment facilities in hospitals, the CCF last year bought: A Life Care 5000 drug delivery system, designed for more efficient introduction of fluids and drugs into the body; A Leica TS meter for measuring the specific gravity of urine; A Dinamap 8100 non-invasive BP monitor, a precision instrument for checking blood pressure; A NuAire Labguard safety cabinet, for the safe preparation of cytotoxic drugs; Two Laminar Flow patient isolation cubicles, for bacteria-free isolation rooms; Two Abbott pain manager pain control devices; An Olympus Universal research microscope, for diagnosis and monitoring treatment progress; A low-temperature refrigerator, to store blood samples; and A Coagulometer, for checking blood clotting factors. The foundation's newsletter, prepared primarily for patients and their families, is also being made available to the public. The CCF is continuing to build its Family Service Centre resource library in order to help members of the public understand and widen their knowledge of childhood cancer. Research into childhood cancer and bone marrow transplantation and the compilation of statistical data on these subjects is continuing apace at the Prince of Wales Hospital. Funds for research projects, equipment and manpower have been sourced from donations made to the Chinese University by the CCF in its first two years of operation. During the year and, based on case histories, data has been collected by doctors attending child cancer patients. The foundation is providing resources for the effective management of this data, which forms an important information base for the establishment of a leukaemia registry and a childhood cancer registry. The CCF has undertaken responsibility for the design and furnishing of the new Lady Pao Children's Cancer Centre which is expected to open in December next year. The centre, an extension of the Prince of Wales Hospital, will take over patients now housed in the Children's Cancer Ward of the hospital. The aim is to make it as friendly as possible by creating and maintaining a loving, caring environment for child patients.