Category Archives: Articles

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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Why is the South African Government Poisoning its Citizens?

genetically-modified-foodsDo you know that you are consuming carcinogens in the form of genetically modified food products every single day – with the blessing of your government?

Approximately 99% of soya and 84% of maize grown in South Africa is grown from crops that have been genetically modified and are therefore Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

Genetically modified products have had their natural DNA or their genes altered with DNA molecules from a different source, which leads to the creation of a new variety of plant or organism, designed to withstand weed killers and herbicides that contain the active ingredient glyphosate – a product that kills all plants that are not genetically modified.

This specifically engineered broad-spectrum herbicide can be sprayed from the air over commercial farms, bought over the counter by subsistence farmers, and widely used in the production of the food we eat.

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Great Recipes for Children with Cancer

Quick-Diets-3-Weight-Loss-Super-Foods-289x300Eating a balanced, nutritional diet is very important for good health, especially for Children with Cancer, as they need the correct kind of nutrition to make help their compromised immune systems fight the cancer and other infections.

Children with cancer need protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.

This is not always easy, however, as individuals with cancer often lose their taste for various foods due to the cancer treatments, and some treatments make one feel nauseous or make everything taste metallic.

It is also often difficult for parents who are struggling financially to try to find something that their child can actually stomach eating – sometimes they can only keep down something like cheesenax, and the parent, just grateful that they are at least eating something, will ply them with this snack – it is not nutritional however, so one needs to try other things.

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Cancer: It’s All About the Price Tag

dr-ernst-marais-chief-operating-officer-independent-clinical-oncology-network-iconDr Marais, CEO of the Independent Clinical Oncology Network (ICON), examines the high cost of cancer in South Africa and the financial impact on the patient and practitioner.

Affordable cancer care is a delicate and complex balancing act which impacts patient, practitioner and pockets.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics released a study on 07 June 2016 and it hit almost every headline as it revealed the high cost of cancer care, and how it is set to rise over the next four years.

It was a price tag tsunami with a global oncology bill of $US150 billion by 2020, an increase of around 10.5% per annum, and that was just for the medication.

 Inequality worsens the problem

The same report also highlighted that, while the cost of medication and care in South Africa may be cheaper than the USA on average, the economic demographics of the country make calculating the realities of affordability complex. As a country, the Gini Coefficient gives SA the dubious honour of second place as one of the most unequal in the world. There is a real need to provide people with affordable cancer care, but there has to be a balance between what patients receive in terms of treatment, and what is affordable to both patient and medical scheme. In addition to this doctors need to be paid appropriately for the service they provide.

Dr Ernst Marais, Chief Operating Officer of ICON, explains: “The Value Equation in health economics is that the value of healthcare equals outcomes over cost. In this equation, outcome is the proxy for the quality of the care. Quality is measured across three main areas: infrastructure, process and outcomes.

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We Need Better Treatments for Childhood Cancer, With Fewer Side Effects

childhood-cancerThe Australian government today announced A$20 million for research to find targeted treatments for childhood cancer. In announcing the grant, for the Zero Childhood Cancer Program led by the Children’s Cancer Institute and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Health Minister Sussan Ley said:

Cancer has just passed cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in Australia and there is no more tragic diagnosis than when it’s in a child. We’ve invested A$12 billion into research since the year 2000… we know we’ve got more dollars to allocate to this really, really important research cause.

This generous funding will be major step toward finding better treatments for children with cancer. Australians have access to the world’s best treatments, doctors and health systems, yet there is a lack of safe, effective and affordable drugs to treat the most aggressive childhood cancers, such as some brain tumours.

One of main reasons for this is that children’s cancer is a rare cancer. This means it is less economically viable for pharmaceutical companies to search for its causes and develop drugs to treat them.

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Honouring Muhammad Ebrahim Hussain – ^Forever 7^

muhammad-hussainIt is once again a weekend of crippling heartbreak for Team LFCT, and I am sitting here typing this post with tears streaming down my face.

It is with overwhelming sadness that we share with you the news that Little Fighter Muhammad Hussain earned his Angel Wings earlier today.

Muhammad was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in August 2010, at the age of 6 months, and spent his first birthday in hospital. HLH is a very rare blood disease and immune system disorder, and according to Swedish studies, occurs in 1 or 2 cases per million, usually in infancy or early childhood.

After starting a search for a bone marrow match due to HLH, Muhammad was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in February 2012, at the age of 2.

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Never Give Up On Your Dreams

gabi-shull-2Gabi Shull was a very active little girl; her favourite hobbies included dancing, reading, and hanging out with friends and her 3 sisters.

In early January 2011, 9-year-old Gabi went ice skating with friends. She fell and landed rather badly on her right knee.

After a series of x-rays, in a lot of pain and with no improvement, she was put on crutches and scheduled for an MRI.

Gabi’s MRI results showed what looked to be osteosarcoma, and this diagnosis was confirmed after a surgical biopsy.

The doctor said that Gaby’s skating accident was actually a blessing in disguise that may have saved her life because, were it not for the fall, they may not have known that there was anything wrong with her knee until it was too late

Gaby then underwent 12 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy treatments to shrink the tumour to an operable size; each treatment required a 4-5 day hospital stay along with several hospital admissions for fever and/or neutropenia.

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