Category Archives: Onco Parents
Chemotherapy is the use of specific drugs, administered by a paediatric oncologist, to destroy cancer cells by preventing the cancer cells from growing and dividing to make more new cells. Cancer cells generally grow and divide much faster than healthy cells; chemotherapy destroys them more quickly than it destroys most healthy cells.
Chemotherapy drugs are very powerful and they cause damage to many growing cells, including some healthy cells. This damage causes the side effects of chemotherapy, which can include Nausea and Vomiting; Diarrhoea; Constipation; Heartburn or Stomach Ache; Sore Mouth or Throat/Mouth Sores; Change in Taste – Foods Have Less Taste or a Bitter Metallic Taste; Hair Loss; Skin Redness; Dry, Itching Skin; Moist Skin; Rashes; Sun Sensitivity; Swelling, Redness, or Pain at The Needle Site Where Chemotherapy Drugs are Given; Bladder Irritation and Infection; Change in Urine Colour & Strong Urine Odour; Nerve Damage; Stress Fractures; Fever; Flu-Like Symptoms; Infection; Anaemia/Fatigue; Blood Clotting Problems (Bleeding); Swelling/Fluid Retention; and Allergic Reaction.
A Child with Cancer has a severely compromised immune system, both from the cancer itself as well as from the cancer treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, and are therefore very susceptible to infections.
While it is important for Children with Cancer to eat the correct, nutritious foodstuffs, they often have problems eating due to various side-effects of cancer treatments, so any additional method of aiding in boosting their immune systems or creating a toxin-free atmosphere at their homes should be welcomed.
An easy way to ensure that the home in which a Child with Cancer lives is as free as possible from toxins is to fill your home with ordinary plants that are capable of purifying the indoor air in your home.
Today we put out a very urgent plea for help to make a wish come true for young Aleem, a 5-year-old boy with terminal cancer.
Little Fighter Aleem Bowman was born on 25 July 2012. When he was admitted to Red Cross Children’s Hospital on 15 September 2016, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma.
Aleem went through RCCH High Risk Neuroblastoma Protocol until April 2017, which included tests, scans, blood work, regular transfusions, hospitalisation, intensive chemotherapy and other treatments, and loads more.
Mommy Kaneez, a single mother, has had to handle a lot, and unfortunately this became even worse when the doctors informed her recently that there are simply no more treatment options for Aleem. He was on maintenance chemo for a short while, which was given purely to extend the time he has with his family, but even the maintenance chemo has now been stopped, as it serves no purpose anymore, and could now be harmful.
Aleem lives with his mommy (who had to give up her job to look after Aleem) and his older sister Kami at Kaneez’s elderly Parents’ home. Things have been very difficult for this family and The Little Fighters Cancer Trust has been offering whatever assistance we could such as food, clothing, bedding, and other practical needs since 7 October 2016.
Aleem was friends with another Little Fighter who lost his Fight last year, but who, before he died got his greatest wish and was able to visit Durban and have a very special interaction with the dolphins at Ushaka Marine World. Aleem saw the photographs, and has been talking about the dolphins for months!
Last week LFCT received a letter from Aleem’s Oncologist, positive about this travel and clearing him medically for the trip!
Our diets can both feed or starve cancer cells productivity by affecting multiple mechanisms which promote cancer. Cancer cells rely on the ability to multiply, repair, differentiate and evade apoptosis (programmed cell death). The recent discovery of cancer stem cells has scientists looking at a whole new approach to preventing and treating cancer.
Cancer stem cells have a pro-survival strategy involved in promoting cancer cell invasion, growth and metastasis.
These cancer stem cells are unlike typical stem cells because they are designed to promote cancerous activities including: the ability to self-renew; resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs; self-sufficient; not influenced by anti-growth signals or by contact with other stem cells; not regulated by normal cell functions including apoptosis; promote inflammation; regulated by tissue invasion and metastasis; sustained by angiogenesis and flawed cellular energy.
Fortunately, cancer stem cells are affected by phytochemicals or the nutrients in our diets. These nutrients are designed to prevent and treat the pro-survival cancerous properties which equip a cancer stem cell to function.
While the first emotions that parents will feel when their child has completed their cancer treatment are tremendous joy and relief, the event may also be a bit traumatic.
You may feel scared, as you and your child with cancer have suddenly come to the end of a journey of a couple of months or years, during which time you had the support of the hospital/clinic and a oncological team… now you are suddenly on your own…
This is completely normal as while one has to continue the fight, continue to be strong, doing what must be done, adrenaline takes over and keeps you going – once the fight is over the adrenaline subsides and fear and uncertainty can creep in.
Some parents have described this time as feeling like veterans who have just returned from war – exhausted and unsure of how to go forward…
For this reason, it is important that you think about the end of treatment before the day actually comes, so that you do not feel lost and all out at sea when it does.
While there has been much improvement in long-term survival rates for childhood cancer patients – more than 80% of children diagnosed with cancer are alive at least 5 years after diagnosis – there are many challenges for the survivors.
Many will ultimately be considered cured. As a consequence, interest is growing in the long-term health of these survivors.
Among the long-term survivors are women facing gynaecological health issues from the late effects of their treatment.
The good news for females who have survived Childhood Cancer is that they are far more likely to be able to become pregnant than male survivors.
It is important that parents of Children with Cancer think about the possible late-effects of the cancer and keep records of all treatments, medications, set-backs and any other information they can just in case it is needed later in life.
The natural response for any parent when they first learn their child has cancer is to do anything possible to make them happy. It is, however, important to balance the desire to comfort with an understanding of what is in your child’s best interest. This is especially true when your child with cancer exhibits difficult behaviours.
Even as your child and the rest of the family are going through this exceedingly stressful time, it is crucial that you maintain your parental role. Give yourself time to accept the realities of your child’s medical diagnosis, but trust your instincts regarding the behaviours you want to maintain, and those that you are more willing to let go.
While you may be faced with many challenges, and those challenges will change over time, the best thing that you can actually do for your Child with Cancer and the rest of the family, including yourself, is to keep life as normal as possible for your children.
Following on from the article we posted a few days ago, “Creating a Cancer-Fighting Indoor Herb Garden,” today we are going to give you some ideas on how to incorporate those herbs into your and your Child with Cancer’s diet.
While you probably know how to use most of these herbs, there may be some with which you are not that familiar and unsure of how they should be used.
Learning more about these herbs and how to use them in different foods can be some fun that you and your child(ren) can share…. from planting to how they grow to harvesting to using them….
These herbs are really good for fighting cancer, so it is important that you make them part of your Child with Cancer’s diet – the rest of the family will also benefit from their use, and they can add great taste to your dishes too.
In the following weeks we will also give you some great easy recipes to make using these herbs.
Parents who are dealing with caring for a Child with Cancer undergo huge amounts of stress, and generally experience both positive and negative changes in their relationships, communication, stress, and their roles.
Emotions run the gamut; anger, anxiety, guilt, and distress will all ebb and flow during the course of the child’s illness. Childhood cancer is a family affair, and while these emotions will generally all be expressed at one time or another by all family members, expression is generally more overt from mothers and children.
Childhood Cancer affects the family’s needs in a myriad of ways such as self-esteem, social interaction, their need for care, and general functioning. This may cause the parents to have to change or modify their family roles to cope with the demands of their child’s illness.
Being a caregiver for a person with cancer takes its toll on one’s health, and even more so when the person with cancer is your child.
Caregivers of Children with Cancer (usually the mother) are faced with far more stress, as they usually have to give up their job, spend endless hours at their child’s bedside in the hospital – sometimes for weeks or even months at a time, make endless trips to doctors, clinics and hospitals, and still try to be there for the rest of the family. Childhood Cancer unfortunately often ends in divorce, which places even more of a burden on the mother and the stress becomes far worse and can often turn into depression or burnout.
While it is natural to want to stay by your sick child’s side and meet the needs of their siblings and other family members – all at once, this is a virtually impossible task, and unless you give both your mind and your body a break once in a while, you could well end up with caregiver-burnout!
When one continuously cares for others while under tremendous stress, one can begin to feel that you’re in over your head and have little control over the situation – this can cause the stress to begin taking a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout.
When you are burned out, it’s tough to do anything, let alone look after your ill child, which is why taking care of yourself is not a luxury; it is a necessity! There are plenty of things you can do to rein in the stress of caregiving and regain a sense of balance, joy, and hope in your life.