Raising Awareness Around Second Opinions
September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month therefore we at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust have been and still are doing triple time to spread as much information as we can about Childhood Cancer Awareness and the Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer.
Too many children in developing countries, including South Africa, are still dying from Childhood Cancer – most of them due to the fact that knowledge about Childhood Cancer is scarce therefore many children are either not correctly diagnosed or are diagnosed too late for effective treatment.
The more aware people are of Childhood Cancer and its Early Warning Signs, the more early diagnoses there will be, ergo the higher South Africa’s Childhood Cancer survival rates will be.
Today we are also raising awareness of another kind as regards Childhood Cancer, though, via a guest-post, and that is awareness around the importance of getting a second opinion.
We have edited this guest-post slightly in order for it to be more relevant to South African/African individuals….
The Best Defence against Childhood Cancer is Awareness and Early Diagnosis
The Importance of Getting a Second Opinion
An expert’s advice can save lives. Let me tell you a story I just witnessed this past weekend. It is a story you have probably heard many times before.
Last Sunday, I took my friend’s two boys to a flag football league game. There must have been around 20 teams of youngsters from different parts of San Diego. They were between the ages of 7 and 10. As they started playing, one of the two boys pointed my attention towards the other side of the field saying “John is in my class and he has cancer“.
As I looked into the same direction, I saw John who was unmistakable with his bald head covered with very fine hair. He was thin yet vibrant and encouraging towards his friends, patting their back as they went in and out of the game, jogging up and down the side of the field.
His parents happened to be sitting close by. They must have felt at ease knowing that I am an oncologist and volunteered to me the story of what had happened.
Back in May, John started having back pain. His pediatrician, receptive to his complaints, ordered an X-ray then a MRI of his lower back which showed a lesion in the spine. John was referred to the local oncologist first and upon further testing, was diagnosed with sarcoma.
However, the pathology was not definitive and the spine location unusual. His oncologist was uncertain about the best options for him. Luckily, John was referred to the pediatric oncology specialist at the nearby university cancer center. There, John was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma.
Ewing Sarcoma is a rare disease that surprisingly was presenting in an even rarer form. Although it predominantly affects the long bones of the legs, it can affect the spine in less than 10% of the cases. This is what John had. After determining the correct diagnosis, the treatment was started and John’s pain improved and the tumor shrank considerably over the next few months. While he is not entirely out of the danger zone, his team is optimistic that he can be cured. An early and correct diagnosis has saved his life.
If a loved child is diagnosed with cancer, I advise you to do the following:
1. Do some research on a trusted website that specifically deals with Childhood Cancer (adult cancer is very different to childhood cancer – you will find some on our Resources Page
2. Contact the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, who can put you in touch with others who can offer you specialised advice, or link to our Facebook Page to share with other parents and those who have survived Childhood Cancer
3. Ask your pediatrician to refer you to an expert who specialises in this Childhood Cancer – here is a list of Paediatric Oncology Centres with all contact details
4. Join cancer forums to talk to parents of Children with Cancer. They have been through the process and can offer very insightful recommendations.
Whatever you do, keep up the hope, eat well, smile often and stay strong!
I agree 100% with the above – if your child is ill and the doctors do not seem to be able to pinpoint the problem or it is taking too long to determine the cause of the problem or to cure it, GET A SECOND OPINION.
YOU know your child, and sometimes only YOU will know that what is happening to them is not usual for YOUR child. Do NOT be bullied by your doctor to just accept what they are telling you – it is YOUR RIGHT to seek a second opinion from another doctor and it could just save your child’s life – it saved mine!
I myself am a Survivor, and the doctors kept on telling me I had a normal bladder infection – had it not been for a good friend who got me to seek a second opinion – Diagnosis: Stage 4 Urethral Carcinoma – I would not be alive today (next June I will be celebrating 20 years in remission!)
Posted on 20 September, 2016, in Blog and tagged cancer, Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Survivor, cancer treatment, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood cancer, Childhood Cancer Awareness, Children with Cancer, LFCT, Little Fighters, Little Fighters Cancer Trust, second opinion. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.