Category Archives: Articles

✨Wishlist Wednesday✨ Support Garth Taylor’s 🤼‍♂️Fundraising Fight🤼‍♂️ for LFCT


Garth Taylor will once again be churning out hits of a different kind this September (International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month) in order to raise funds for the vital work done by the Little Fighters Cancer Trust.

Garth has supported LFCT over the years, and last year took part in the “White Collar Boxing 14” event at Scarlett Ribbon in Greenstone Park to raise funds for the Little Fighters Cancer Trust.

Last year Garth said, “After having my sister, Joanne, taken away from me by cancer, I have even more of a soft spot toward people who are fighting cancer. Having watched what she went through as an adult fighting this disease, I can only imagine how much worse it is for children who are suffering from cancer, to fight this battle. So, I figured, how bad can it be? Me, stepping into the ring and getting punched around for kids who are fighting for their lives every single day. I might as well see what I can do, if not through my singing, then by getting into the ring and doing something more exciting, so that people and companies pledge money and hopefully we can raise enough funds to help these little kids. I see cancer as a big bully hurting these children, and that is what I will be fighting.”

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Donated Tumour Yields Answers for DIPG


Jennifer Kranz was diagnosed with an especially aggressive form of a deadly childhood brain tumour, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), on her 6th birthday in 2013, and died less than four months after being diagnosed.

Jennifer’s parents heard about the work of Stanford paediatric neuro-oncologist Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, who studies donated DIPG tumour tissue to understand how its biology might be targeted with new treatments during Jennifer’s illness, and during their final appointment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the Kranzes asked if they could donate their daughter’s tumour for this research after her death.

They said ‘Yes, here is the paperwork,’ and we signed it,” Libby said. Then she realized the donation form asked only for consent to study the tumour on Jennifer’s brainstem, making no mention of the metastases that had spread to the frontal lobe of her brain and down her spine.

But we want to donate all of it,” Libby, Jennifer’s mom told Sonia Partap, MD, Jennifer’s oncologist. The Stanford team made the arrangements, and Libby also asked Monje to try to figure out how Jennifer’s tumour had spread so fast.

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HIV & Cancer Fields Collaborate For a Cure


Revolutions in cancer treatment are being tested in HIV in the hopes it will bring the world closer to a cure.

The first-ever anti-HIV drug, AZT, was initially developed to fight cancer but was abandoned in preliminary testing. This breakthrough drug saved lives and offered hope to people with AIDS. Over two decades later, the fields of oncology and HIV are collaborating again in the search for a functional cure for AIDS.

Why HIV cure and cancer?” asked Nobel Laureate Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi at a meeting in Paris last month. Renowned for co-discovering the HI virus in 1983, she said that the two had more in common that one would expect.

At a forum held shortly before the 9th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science in late July Barré-Sinoussi said a collaboration between the two fields held promise towards finding a more sustainable solution to the current option for people living with HIV: daily treatment for life.

Well we know, first of all, some people on long-term treatment develop cancer,” she explained. Secondly, she said that over the past five years there is “more and more data” showing similarities between tumour cells and those latently infected with HIV.

When a person’s antiretroviral treatment (ART) is working to suppress the amount of virus in the blood to below detectable levels (an undetectable viral load) a number of HIV-infected cells persist. These cells, latently infected cells, stop infecting other cells with HIV but they reactivate when a person stops taking ART. A group of latently infected cells is called an HIV reservoir – and it is this that scientists are trying to locate and destroy in the hopes of finding a cure.

 

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U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Improve Cancer Drugs for Children


Up until now, drug companies have been free to decide whether to pursue treatments for paediatric cancers as part of their work on adult cancers or not, and this has led to a minimal amount of new drugs specifically for paediatric cancers being developed.

An estimated 2,000 children die of cancer annually, and the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975 – there has been a 13% rise in Childhood Cancer in the past 20 years alone.

Despite significant advances against certain pediatric cancers, including Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, there are still some types of cancer for which there are few or no effective treatments.

The truth is that new drug development in pediatric cancer is extremely slow, often lagging way behind adult treatments, and few compounds are designed specifically for children.

The sad truth is that Childhood cancers make up less than 1% of all cancers diagnosed each year, and that is is not much of a market for drug makers, who rack up an estimated $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs while bringing a novel drug to market.

They won’t have much choice going forward!!

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Understanding the Impact of Childhood Cancer Rates across Sub-Saharan Africa


Collated Childhood cancer statistics in sub Saharan Africa have been published for the first time as a monograph in the peer reviewed journal ecancermedicalscience, allowing researchers and policymakers a critical new insight into the impact of paediatric cancer across this region.

On the African continent, only South Africa operates a childhood cancer registry on the national level.

This new study brings together data from 16 of the smaller localised registers, which, as members of the African Cancer Registry Network (AFCRN), have been evaluated as achieving adequate coverage of their target population. The study has allowed for the collection of this scattered knowledge for the first time and presents it in an accessible format.

The cancers are classified according to the third revision of the International Classification of Childhood Cancer (ICCC-3) and recorded rates in Africa are compared with those in childhood populations in the UK, France, and the USA.

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Postcards from the World – Jessie’s Story


Mel Stocks knew something was wrong with 14-month-old Jessie a week after she was born but says “no one would listen”

Mel said that as she already had an older daughter she knew the difference between a well and poorly baby – Jessie was very lethargic and continually had flu-like symptoms; she had no appetite, was very prone to nasty colds and chest infections, and wasn’t as alert as her sister had been.

Jessie was prescribed antibiotics more times than her mom can remember but they never made any real difference.  Mom Mel says it was as though she had no immune system and couldn’t fight anything off.

From the age of 9 months, Jessie’s appetite began to diminish and she suffered with diarrhoea, as well as having night sweats where she would wake up dripping wet.

Mel noticed lumps under Jessie’s rib cage and went to a GP who ignored her concerns. A fortnight later, on a second visit, another doctor examined young Jessie and immediately sent her to hospital. She was diagnosed with an iron deficiency and severe anaemia at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, but within weeks Jessie developed spots on her ankles.

After a staggering 50 visits to various doctors, little Jessie Stocks was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) as well as a Philadelphia Chromosome Gene, which is rare in children and made the leukaemia difficult to treat when she was just 14 months old.

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How the Cost of Cancer Drugs in South Africa can be Cut


South Africa’s Competition Commission has launched an investigation into excessive pricing by three major pharmaceutical companies that have the sole rights to distribute cancer drugs in the country.

The commission’s job is to protect ordinary South Africans from abuse by dominant players. It has powers to investigate and evaluate restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant positions and mergers.

Its investigation into the drug companies is vital as cancer treatment is unaffordable for most South Africans. Many medical schemes – which offer medical cover to 16% of the population or 7 million people – refuse to pay for the medication because of the cost.

In South Africa all drug prices are approved and signed off by the medicines pricing committee in the National Department of Health. But our hope is that the commission’s investigation could still drive competition among suppliers, and in turn more affordable prices for cancer treatment. This should result in better access to affordable drugs, particularly for poor people.

 

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Cancer Not Recognised as a Priority Disease in South Africa


It is  crying shame to see what has happened to the once proud, functional and world-renowned South African Health Department.

South Africa used to have some of the best hospitals, doctors and nurses in the world and they were sought after by many overseas countries, but alas that is no more…

Twenty years ago on the 24th of this month a wonderful medical team at Groote Schuur Hospital saved my life (Stage IV Urethral Carcinoma) – virtually all of them are now either retired or practicing overseas due to the sad condition of and lack of support from the South African Department of Health 😦

It has become the norm to see articles about bad medical practices, hospitals and clinics running out of chronic medication, broken equipment, patients being left to lie in their own excrement, patients not being attended to and patients dying needlessly, etc. etc. and it makes me wanna bawl my eyes out…

While the following article is essentially about the state of the Ailing Kwazulu-Natal Health System, one has only to watch the news or read a newspaper to know that things are not much better at other State Hospitals around the country 😦

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has a lot of explaining to do…

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Africa/America Partnership to Fight Childhood Cancer in Africa


cancer in africaA comprehensive initiative called Global HOPE (Haematology-Oncology Paediatric Excellence) has recently been launched in public-private partnerships between American institutions and the governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi.

The $100m Paediatric Haematology-Oncology treatment network has been created in order to build long-term capacity to treat and dramatically improve the prognosis of thousands of children with cancer and blood disorders in southern and eastern Africa.

There are currently only 5 paediatric oncologists in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda combined, which is totally inadequate to deal with the scourge of Childhood Cancer.

“We believe in these countries there are more than 11,000 new cases annually of paediatric cancer and 40,000 new cases of serious, life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and haemophilia. Because of these staggering numbers, more healthcare providers with special expertise are urgently needed,” said David G. Poplack, M.D., director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Global HOPE will help build capacity in the region to diagnose and care for children with blood disorders and cancer, offering the potential for transformational change in survivorship for these children.

In developing countries, including the United States, approximately 80% of Children with Cancer survive; unfortunately this figure dips markedly in developing countries including in sub-Saharan Africa.

The mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 90% across Africa, mainly due to an inadequate healthcare infrastructure,  and a lack of physicians and other healthcare workers with specific training to treat children with cancer.

The most common Childhood Cancers are blood-related, including leukaemia and lymphoma.

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George H.W. Bush Shares Heart-Warming Update On Young Friend Battling Leukaemia


george-h-w-bush-shaved-his-head-in-support-of-leukaemia-patient-patrickThree years after making headlines for shaving his head in solidarity with a boy battling leukemia, former President George H. W. Bush took to Twitter to share some good news: The boy, Patrick, is doing great.

Bush first introduced the world to Patrick, the son of a Secret Service agent on his security detail, when a photo of the former president — with his newly shaved head — and the then 2-year-old boy went viral.

At the time, Bush told his granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager that he was following in the footsteps of members of his Secret Service detail who also shaved their heads in solidarity with Patrick. He told Jenna that shaving his head was the “right thing to do.”

George and Barbara Bush lost their second child, four-year-old Robin Bush, to leukaemia in 1953.

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Fashion Show Features Kids with Cancer Dressed as their Dream Careers


fftc-charlotte-save-the-date-times-1At the Fashion Funds the Cure event last month in North Carolina, Children with cancer were able to take time out from their present-day challenges to live out their dreams for tomorrow.

Fashion Funds the Cure is a celebration of incomparable strength and courage as girls and boys battling cancer make their debut on the runway. Modeling more than the latest Dillard’s fashions, these models showcase their inner and outer beauty. For 13 years, Fashion Funds the Cure has been held in Tampa, Florida.

For the past 13 years, the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation has hosted the special fashion show where children who’ve survived cancer as well as kids still battling the disease get to dress up as what they want to be when they grow up.

Up until now the event has taken place in Tampa, Florida. But this year it moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, thanks to Dillard’s, who sponsored the event. The organization plans to take the show to five different locations starting in March 2017.

We don’t just tell these kids who are battling horrible diseases that they can be anything they want to be; we let them actually be it, in front of a crowd cheering them on,” Miranda Chapman, the foundation’s marketing and communications manager, told TODAY.

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World Cancer Leaders Summit 2016


World Cancer Leaders Summit Paris 2016Over 300 global health leaders from more than 60 countries gathered at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Paris, France, on 31 October 2016 to discuss progress made in cancer prevention and control over the last seven years, and the challenges that remain to deliver the global target of a 25% reduction in premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2025.

Moderated by the award-winning journalist Mrs Baria Alamuddin, Summit participants discussed the global progress made in cancer prevention and control over the last seven years, and the pressing challenges that remain to deliver the global target of a 25% reduction in premature mortality from cancer and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2025.

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Addressing Global Inequality in Healthcare Access


 

inequality-in-cancer-care-for-childrenThe thought of a cancer diagnosis for a child weighs heavy on the heart. But one of the enormous medical success stories of the last fifty years is the improved chance of survival for Children with Cancer.

Today, 80% of children who develop cancer will survive – if that child lives in the developed world. In the developing world, the picture is very different; survival rates can be as low as 10%.

For decades, the global medical community has had the medicines and procedures to cure many childhood cancers. But in many low- and middle-income countries, children and their parents must overcome many hurdles to achieve what is a standard level of care in high-income countries. World Child Cancer aims to even those odds.

For many of the children who travel hundreds of miles with their parents to the Southern Philippines Medical Centre, in Davao City on the island of Mindanao, Philippines, the trip is filled with uncertainty and fear. The child knows something is wrong; she doesn’t feel well; she is tired, she is weak, and she has pain. Her parents seem concerned but she does not fully understand why – No one can tell her what is wrong because no one knows what is wrong. That is why they are traveling to Davao; to get answers, even if the answer is a cancer diagnosis.

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14-Year-Old Child Cancer Victim Cryonically Frozen


cryonic-storage-tanksThe 14-year-old British teenager, known only as JS, had a rare form of cancer for which she underwent 12 months of treatment.

Unfortunately, the treatment did not work and, aware of the fact that she would die soon, she started investigating cryopreservation in the last few months she had left.

Someone preserved this way is said to be in cryonic suspension. The hope is that, if someone has died from a disease or condition that is currently incurable, they can be “frozen” and then revived in the future when a cure has been discovered.

She sent a letter to the court:

“I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know I am going to. I think being cryo‐preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years’ time.

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Honouring Jessica Whelan – ^Forever 4^


four_year_old_jessA few weeks ago we published a post called The Real Face of Childhood Cancer; the story of little Jessica Whelan, a 4-year-old terminally ill Child with Cancer.

Her father, a photographer, snapped a photo showing his daughter suffering from the pain caused by neuroblastoma and shared it on Facebook, pleading with followers to raise more awareness for paediatric cancers.

Unfortunately, little Jessica lost her 13-month battle with cancer on Sunday, and her father posted a heartbreaking tribute to his ‘little princess’ whose photograph, showing her grimacing and arching her back in pain because of neuroblastoma, caught the attention of millions and made her a worldwide symbol for children battling cancer.

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