Children with cancer in the UK are to benefit nationally from a service which for the first time will allow doctors to personalise their treatment.
The therapeutic drug monitoring service, developed by Newcastle University experts, allows clinicians to obtain vital information about how much chemotherapy individual young patients should receive.
Youngsters diagnosed with cancer, including infants in the first weeks of life, can be particularly hard to treat as it is difficult to know how much chemotherapy to give.
Doctors sometimes have to make tough decisions about the most appropriate dose of a drug, without enough scientific information to help them decide on the best course of action.
Cancer continues to be one of the top causes of death in many countries, and Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments used in the fight against cancer.
About 60% of cancer patients benefit from radiation, which is used either on its own or together with chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy works by puncturing the DNA inside cancer cells. This stops the cancer cells from growing and multiplying, eventually causing them to die.
Doctors can use radiation to destroy cancer tumours completely or to shrink them in preparation for surgery. This depends on the type of tumour, as some cancers are more sensitive to radiation therapy than others.
Hydrogen peroxide is often used to whiten teeth, treat minor cuts and scrapes, or dye one’s hair. Some individuals claim that hydrogen peroxide can also help cure cancer, but what does the research say?
Claims that hydrogen peroxide can also help cure cancer stem from the fact that it is an oxidising liquid, which means it gives off oxygen. Low oxygen levels can cause cancer, and some people think that exposing cancer cells to high levels of oxygen will prevent them from growing and they will die.
This type of therapy is often known as oxy medicine, oxidology, or oxidative therapy.
No current research suggests hydrogen peroxide has any effect on cancer cells. There are, however, many warnings against using it internally.
Conventional cancer treatments can be devastating to the human body, even more so to a small child’s body that is still growing.
While there are yet no other treatments to fight childhood cancer, especially to those in poorer countries, than the old ones such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, more and more individuals are also using complementary methods.
Not every conventional or complementary method will work for every individual, but it is surely up to us to try whichever method we can to fight this terrible disease – as long as it does no harm, it could do good.
Something that falls under the banner of complementary treatment is mushrooms – more specifically, Reishi mushrooms, aka Ling zhi, Lin zi, and Mushroom of Immortality – which various studies from around the globe have shown to be effective in fighting cancer.
Spending the day outside in nature is wonderful; tiring perhaps, but also deeply satisfying. Our relationship to nature is primal – we thrive on it!
Urbanisation is taking a toll on our brain function and mental health. City dwellers have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, mood disorders and schizophrenia compared to those who live in rural areas.
In order to counteract this, all you need do is spend some time in nature. This can include many different natural environments, such as city parks, farms, beaches, wilderness areas or even just in your home garden. The most important thing is to find somewhere with as many living things and as little evidence of human presence as possible.
Spending time in green spaces is absolutely crucial to human wellness, and modern doctors are finally starting to realise how powerful nature can be – especially when it comes to those with chronic health issues.
Back in the late 1980s, young Joel Alsup, a 7-year-old from Chattanooga, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which would result in the amputation of his right arm.
In 1991, 10-year-old Lindsey Wilkerson from Crane, Mo. was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the same hospital.
The two frightened children overcame childhood cancer to become friends, best friends, then husband and wife.
“Our families would actually sit in the waiting room and visit while she was in treatment and I was coming back for checkups,” Joel says.
“I don’t think they even knew each other’s names then. We had no idea where it would end,” said Lindsey’s mother.
Eventually though, the lump doubled in size, prompting surgery to remove it, but the subsequent phone call from the doctor stunned Kim – Connor had been diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a slow-growing soft-tissue cancer.
After a month of tests and scans, Connor underwent a full resection of the tumour plus a bit of surrounding tissue to prevent recurrence and regained full use of his thumb. Later CT and MRI scans show no evidence of disease (NED).
This has, however, not put his mother at ease, as epithelioid sarcoma has a very ugly secret…
Kids Kicking Cancer is an initiative that was started in America in 1999 by
Founding Director, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg (Rabbi G), and began providing classes in several public hospitals in South Africa earlier this year.
Last Tuesday was the Official Johannesburg launch and Wednesday was the Official Cape Town launch, which I was privileged to attend, and hear firsthand about what the program offers as well as meet Rabbi G, Professor Alan Davidson, Head of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Chairperson Dr Richard Friedland, and other Board Members; the two wonderful people working with our little fighters, Ilze van der Merwe in Cape Town and Moses Sebopa in Johannesburg, and of course, our Little Heroes from Cape Town; Hayden, Monalisa and Ferdi.
We think this is a FANTASTIC program that will benefit our Little Fighters greatly, and we encourage all parents of Children with Cancer to get their little fighters registered on the program.
Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer that affects around 100 children the UK annually.
Neuroblastoma is also one of the most common childhood cancers in South Africa, and it can be very aggressive and hard to treat.
In early 2017, Luke Bell from Darlington began falling asleep in his school lessons, prompting his worried parents to rush him to the doctor.
Mark and Becky Bell thought their son may have had anaemia but it never crossed their minds that he would be diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma – a rare form of cancer – just days later.
The shock diagnosis which left the family devastated marked the beginning of a year of extended hospital stays and gruelling treatment, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.
At the end of April, Luke was in the final stages of treatment and enduring what was believed to be his last round of immunotherapy when the Bells were given the devastating news that their little boy had relapsed, with scans showing a progression of his illness.
In Part 1 of this series we explained that this series of articles is not meant to be medical advice, but a guide that may help you as a parent of a newly-diagnosed child with cancer cope just a bit better. Information is knowledge, and never more so than when you are dealing with childhood cancer!
These articles are meant to help you be the key part of your child’s treatment that you will need to be. Take what works for you according to your situation and your child’s temperament, personality, fears, strengths, and how they deal with adversity, and leave what does not pertain to your situation.
Part 5 will deal with Different Types of Treatment and Possible Side-Effects of that treatment. As this is quite a long section, I will split it into 5(i) Surgery 5(ii) Chemotherapy 5(iii) Radiation Therapy 5(iv) Immunotherapy and 5(v) Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplants.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine treatment (CAM) is very involved and will contain a lot of information, so that will be dealt with separately in Part 6 of this series of articles.