Blog Archives

High Calorie/High Protein Diet for Children with Cancer


calorie-protein-pyramidNutrition is an important part of the health of all children, but it is especially important for Children with Cancer, who often have poor appetites as a result of the cancer itself, or due to the side-effects of the cancer treatments.

Both cancer and its treatments may affect a child’s appetite, tolerance to foods, and their body’s ability to use nutrients. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help a child feel better and stay stronger.

For parents of Children with Cancer, the challenges of enticing children to eat nutritious, healthy foods are even greater than those faced by parents of healthy children, and require untold levels of patience and creativity to overcome.

Cancer and cancer treatments can also affect the way your child’s body tolerates certain foods and its ability to process, store and appropriately use nutrients at a time when your child’s body needs the energy and nutrients from a healthy diet more than ever.

The nutrient needs of Children with Cancer vary from child to child. Your child’s doctor, nurses, and a registered dietitian can help identify nutrition goals and plan ways to help your child meet them.

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When Your Child with Cancer is Taking Steroids


child-cancer-and-steroidsSteroids occur naturally within our bodies, but can also be made in the laboratory for medical purposes. They help reduce inflammation and control different functions in our bodies such as the immune system or the way the body uses food. One of their key functions is to reduce inflammation/swelling and ease associated symptoms, such as headaches.

When your child has a tumour in their brain it is not only the tumour itself that causes some of the symptoms they may have, but also the swelling surrounding the tumour. This swelling puts pressure on surrounding tissues making the effects of the tumour wider reaching. This pressure can cause symptoms such as headaches, sickness and seizures (fits).

To help reduce the swelling, Children with Cancer may be prescribed steroids such as Prednisone or Dexamethasone as part of their treatment. As steroids are fast-acting drugs this could mean that some of the effects caused by the tumour reduce quite quickly. This does not mean, however, that the size of tumour itself has been reduced.

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Will Trump Sign the Childhood Cancer STAR ACT?


staract1-300x122In an effort to help thousands of children who undergo cancer treatment each year, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Childhood Cancer STAR (Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research) Act.  This bipartisan legislation will advance paediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments, while also improving childhood cancer surveillance, and providing resources for survivors and those impacted by childhood cancer.

Too many young people’s lives have been cut short by cancer.  These kids and their families who’ve battled this disease inspire us to take action.  The Childhood Cancer STAR Act will help young cancer patients and their families get access to potentially life-saving treatments, support survivors, and move us another step closer toward our goal of ending pediatric cancer,” said Senator Reed.

This bipartisan legislation will continue the advances in research, prevention and care for our loved ones and families impacted by childhood cancer,” said Senator Capito. “The Childhood Cancer STAR Act gives parents and patients access to the information they need to make vital decisions about treatment and care post-treatment. This legislation will also give those who understand the unique needs of childhood cancer patients a seat at the table when decisions about cancer care are taking place.”

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Cancer Benefits of Cardamom


health-benefits-of-cardamomCardamom is a peppery, citrusy spice that is native to the evergreen forests of India and is commonly used in Indian cuisine, but it has also made its way into Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for mouth ulcers, digestive problems, and even depression.

According to various studies, cardamom also contains cancer-fighting compounds with the potential to kill cancer cells as well as stunt new cancer cell growth. In India, Cardamom was known as the “Queen of spices” to black pepper’s title as the “King of spices”. Also in India, during the 11th century, it was listed as one of the ingredients in the “Five fragrance betel chew” in the Book of Splendour.

Historically, spices have shaped many events throughout the world. Many voyagers, including the legendary Christopher Columbus, explored the seas in search of treasured spices. These valued commodities contribute not only flavours but also serve as colorants and preservatives in a wide variety of cultures.

In Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of medicine and lifestyle) and Traditional Chinese Medicine, cardamom was believed to be a remedy for teeth and gum infections, throat problems, congestion of the lungs, pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of the eyelids, gastrointestinal disorders, disintegrating kidney, and gall bladder stones, and was also used as an antidote for poisons and venoms.

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Helping Your Child with Cancer Cope


cancer-childA cancer diagnosis brings with it not only pain and treatments, but a complete lifestyle change – there are all the appointments, tests, medications, infusions, scans, special diets, and so on to deal with; time in and out of hospital; fatigue, lethargy, boredom and a change in eating habits…

For children things are worse, because they can often not go to school while under treatment due to their impaired immune systems and possibilities of infection; often they can also not even see their friends and need to keep themselves entertained for days, weeks and even months on end. I mean, adult company is OK, but when you are a child you need to play and need other children around…

The sudden move from health to illness and the unwelcome tests and procedures needed to get a diagnosis can be very frightening for a child, and hospital stays can be a scary and overwhelming experience.

It’s very scary for a child to be told their body is not working right, and that they have cancer and it is completely normal for a child or teen to be afraid of new and often painful experiences.

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Honouring Caleb Tristan van der Westhuizen – ^Forever 5^


Caleb Sept 2015Caleb Tristan van der Westhuizen was a normal, beautiful little curly-haired young lad of 4, whom his parents were very proud of, when he was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma in September 2015.

Caleb underwent various treatments for his cancer, including various operations as well as undergoing Chemotherapy and Retinoid Therapy  (Retinoids are chemicals that are related to vitamin A. They are known as differentiating agents because they are thought to help some cancer cells mature into normal cells. In children with high-risk neuroblastoma, treatment with a retinoid called 13-cis-retinoic acid [isotretinoin] reduces the risk of the cancer coming back after high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.)

Things generally went well for Caleb, with the usual ups and owns that are part of fighting childhood cancer. Unfortunately Caleb relapsed in December 2016, and he was readmitted to hospital for pain-control.

Just before Christmas the family got the devastating news that Caleb was terminal, after which he received Radiation Therapy and Pain Control Treatment.

Unfortunately, Caleb lost his fight with cancer on 16th January 2017 and was laid to rest on Saturday 21st January. Read the rest of this entry

New Report Defines Impact of Cannabis on Health


cannabis-drug-marijuana-plantA report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – published on 12th January, 2017 – consolidated all evidence published since 1999 regarding the health impacts associated with cannabis and cannabis-derived products, such as marijuana.

In excess of  10,000 scientific abstracts were considered by the committee that carried out the study and wrote the report in order to reach its nearly 100 conclusions.

The growing accessibility of cannabis and acceptance of its use for recreational purposes have raised important public health concerns. Neither the level of therapeutic benefit offered by the drug nor the risks it carries for causing adverse health effects have been rigorously assessed.

For years the landscape of marijuana use has been rapidly shifting as more and more states are legalizing cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions and recreational use,” said Marie McCormick, chair of the committee; the Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health, department of social and behavioral sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.

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Dangers of Obesity in Childhood Cancer Survivors


obese-childrenUnfortunately, for Survivors of Childhood Cancer, the risks to their health are not over by any means…

Various studies have shown that Childhood Cancer Survivors may be at increased risk of being obese due to the therapies they underwent to fight the cancer.

Among the strongest predictor of obesity in survivors was childhood obesity, which is also a strong predictor of adult obesity in the general public. Other obesity risk factors were age and childhood cancer treatment.

Obesity rates are especially elevated in Childhood Cancer Survivors who were exposed to cranial radiation, which is used to prevent or delay the spread of cancer to the brain.

In a study published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, a team led by Carmen Wilson, PhD and Kirsten Ness, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, designed a study to estimate the prevalence of obesity among childhood cancer survivors and to identify the clinical and treatment-related risks for obesity in these individuals. The study also looked for potential genetic factors that might play a role.

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Improved Comprehensive Guidelines for Chemotherapy – South Africa


ChemotherapyA group of South African cancer practitioners has developed  a new set of Comprehensive Guidelines to manage chemotherapy treatment and improve patient safety and protect healthcare workers.

Chemotherapy Administration Guidelines was compiled by members of the Independent Clinical Oncology Network (ICON) in consultation with global oncologists and cancer experts to address a substantial gap in South African cancer care protocol. The resource, a first for South Africa, will be released later this month.

According to Dr David Eedes, clinical oncology advisor for ICON, there has never been a single resource document in South Africa that addresses best practice at all three levels of chemotherapy administration:

  1. The Oncologists who prescribe the medication;
  2. The Pharmacists who dispense it; and
  3. The Nurses who administer it.

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Bringing Smiles to Children with Cancer


a-child-cancer-patient-in-bangabandhu-sheikh-mujib-medical-university We at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust are all well aware what Children with Cancer and their Families have to go through on a daily basis; the constant pain, the stress, the illness, the devastation of little bodies, the treatments, the nausea, the suffering and the heartache of parents who felt helpless in the face of that monster, Cancer.

In 2014, Fatimatul Botul was talking to a friend who works at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). The doctor was sharing his experience of treating cancer afflicted children; describing how much pain they go through every day. This prompted Fatima to visit BSMMU one day to see for herself if she could do something about it. What she saw tore her heart apart.

I was heartbroken by the silent faces of parents and the cries of their ailing children,” Fatima says.

Aged between 1 and 11, most cancer patients in the paediatrics haematology and oncology ward of the hospital come from poor families who are unaware of the fact that cancer in children is often curable if they are given proper treatment and hope.

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Direct-To-Brain Chemo Better Than Systemic Drugs When Immunotherapy Is To Follow


glioblastomaIn a recent study, Anti-PD-1 antitumor immunity is enhanced by local and abrogated by systemic chemotherapy in GBM, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found in experiments on mice with a form of aggressive brain cancer, that localised chemotherapy delivered directly to the brain rather than given systemically may be the best way to keep the immune system intact and strong when immunotherapy is also part of the treatment.

The researchers say their study results, reported in Science Translational Medicine, could directly affect the design of immunotherapy clinical trials and treatment strategies for people with a deadly form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.

We understand that our research was done in a mouse model and not in humans, but our evidence is strong that systemic chemotherapy alters the immune system in a way that it never fully recovers,” says Michael Lim, M.D., associate professor of neurosurgery and director of brain tumor immunotherapy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

With aggressive cancers like glioblastoma, it is important that we don’t handicap the defenses we may need to add alternative treatments, such as immunotherapy, to chemotherapy,” he adds.

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Kindness of Strangers Brings Joy to Young Girl with Cancer


brandon-olsen-and-taylor-fritzWe are often so caught up in our own lives that we just completely ignore everyone else that we may pass by in the street; they are strangers after all, so why should we take note of them?

The following story though, shows just how important something as small as a smile and a wave can mean to total strangers and how far an act of kindness will go…

Three young girls in Blue Earth formed a special friendship with an unlikely duo, and it all started with a wave and a smile. The Evenson sisters stop what they’re doing during garbage pick-up. The short encounter each week has changed everyone’s lives.

Every week the girls, Grace, Rose and Sophia wait to hear the garbage truck round the corner. They scramble to climb into position on the perch at the window. They have been doing this wave and smile each week from afar for about a year. Brandon Olsen and Taylor Fritz, the garbage men with Hometown Sanitation, wave back just as vigorously.

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