Honoree Spotlight

From Cancer to Culinary Arts

“Our most important job is to give each child the opportunity and hope to live.” – Amalia García Moreno, 2015 World of Children Health Award

At 11 years old, Karen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Because there are few facilities in Mexico equipped to properly diagnose and treat pediatric cancers, Karen had to travel from her home state of Michoacán in the west of Mexico to Mexico City for treatment at the National Institute for Pediatrics (Instituto Nacional de Pediatría). Throughout her two full years of chemotherapy, the hardest thing for Karen was being away from home, family, and friends. Fortunately, she and her mother found a second home with warm, welcoming family and friends at Casa de la Amistad para Niños con Cáncer.

Karen, former cancer patient
Karen at Casa de la Amistad

In addition to the financial support Casa de la Amistad provided to Karen and her mother, the hostel provided important emotional support during their most trying times. Residents of Casa de la Amistad have access to Emotional Support Classes that create a network of support and assistance for families within and outside the home.  The intent of the classes is to encourage the expression of emotions between children, youth and adults as the patient, family and friends help one another through this trying time.

Karen, former cancer patient
Karen hopes to become a chef

Now 22 years old, Karen believes she was given an unexpected second chance at life. This realization makes her continually push to be the best she can possibly be. She’s currently studying Culinary Arts with a minor in Mexican Cuisine and has plans to enroll in professional courses focused on banquets and nutrition. Originally inspired to become a chef by her grandmother, who had a small restaurant in her hometown, Karen hopes to one day work abroad and share Mexican cuisine with the world.

Looking back, Karen truly believes that support from Casa de la Amistad truly made the difference in her recovery. “I want to thank Casa de la Amistad,” she shares. “Without them I’m not sure I would still be here.”


Amalia García Moreno is the recipient of the 2015 World of Children Health Award for her work Casa de la Amistad. learn more about Amalia by visiting: worldofchildren.org/amalia

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