Ten things everyone should know about childhood cancer

Author:Michael’s Story
Michael Mapezi
In May of 2010, my priest took me to Our Lady’s Hospice in Lusaka so that I could receive medicine for my illnesses. Unfortunately, doctors told me that both my HIV and Kaposi’s sarcoma are at an advanced stage and can no longer be cured, but I am on second line antiretroviral treatments and am undergoing chemotherapy so that I can try to get better.
Before I was admitted to the hospice, I used to get sick very often – I would usually get malaria or the flu. However, since I have been living at the hospice I have been feeling better. My nurse, Sobe, gives me medicine, washes and cleans my leg, and makes sure that I am feeling OK. I receive morphine five times a day to help me deal with the pain in my leg. Because of the care that I receive at the hospice, I do not have much pain anymore.
Sadly, Michael passed away not long after he shared his story with us.
International Childhood Cancer Day
In the run up to International Childhood Cancer Day on 15 Februarly the ICPCN has drawn up a list of ten disturbing facts about childhood cancer that they would like everyone to know about. This list is based on information drawn from the Childhood Cancer International website as well as from the UICC website.

  1. Worldwide, every 3 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer.
  2. Childhood cancer causes around 90,000 deaths per year and in high-income countries is the second highest cause of death amongst 5-14 year olds.
  3. With early diagnosis and treatment protocols, approximately 70% of childhood cancers are curable.
  4. Childhood cancer is often detected too late because parents and health workers do not have sufficient awareness of the warning signs.
  5. Limited progress in paediatric oncology drug development remains a major concern amongst all stakeholders.
  6. The latest drug developed for childhood cancer in the US was 30 years ago.
  7. Children/adolescents with cancer suffer as a result of severe and toxic treatments which cause life long health issues and challenges.
  8. The treatment and care of childhood cancer requires a whole interdisciplinary team, to provide not just the medical treatment of the child, but also the psychosocial support for the child and the whole family.
  9. The introduction of palliative care is an appropriate response at the time of a childhood cancer diagnosis as palliative care can be given alongside treatment.
  10. In most low and milddle income countries, palliative care services for children are limited and pain relief medications are frequently unavailable.

To find out more about International Childhood Cancer Day and how you can support their awareness raising activities, please go to: http://icccpo.org/index.cfm

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