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The Importance of the Immune System

The Immune System

The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders.

Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease.

The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body.

One of the important cells involved are white blood cells, also called leukocytes, which come in two basic types that combine to seek out and destroy disease-causing organisms or substances.

Leukocytes are produced or stored in many locations in the body, including the thymus, spleen, and bone marrow.

For this reason, they’re called the lymphoid organs. There are also clumps of lymphoid tissue throughout the body, primarily as lymph nodes, that house the leukocytes.

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Winter Shoe & Clothing Drive: Why Cancer Kids Need to Dress Warmly

We are desperate for NEW winter footwear and clothing for our Little Fighters and unfortunately the response has been absolutely minimal so far.

We have close to 15 000 followers and a reach of over 50 000 people weekly!! If just 10% would purchase JUST ONE item each we would more than make our target 😥

Every year the Little Fighters Cancer Trust aims to provide around 2 000 Children with Cancer with warm clothing, scarves,gloves, mittens, socks and shoes before the winter cold sets in, and this is for a VERY good reason.

Most of our Childhood Cancer Families cannot afford to purchase new clothing and due to weight loss or gain as a result of the treatment it is often necessary. It is absolutely vital that a Child with cancer keep warm at all times because the cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy lower white blood cell count.

White blood cells are the body’s weapons against infection; having a low white blood cell count weakens the cancer patient’s immune system. If treatment has lowered your child’s white blood cell count, that may explain why they feel cold. Platelets are one of the three kinds of blood cells that circulate oxygen throughout the body. If one does not have enough of them, one’s body cannot get enough oxygen, which means one can develop anemia-which causes one to feel cold, among other things.

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Emotional Stages for Parents of Children with Cancer

Hearing the doctor say the words “your child has cancer” will never be easy to hear.

Parents go through several stages throughout this process much like the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

However, unlike losing a loved one suddenly, cancer can go on for several years with many highs and lows.

This results in stages varying in timing, duration, and cycles.

By acknowledging and understanding the possible stages you can better progress through the phases parents’ may go through.

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I Love/Hate My Work

Most days I love what I do with the Little Fighters Cancer Trust because although it is tough to deal with Children with Cancer and their Families every day because we see firsthand what they go through, knowing that we are helping take the strain off them even just a little bit is a good feeling.


Today is the kind of day that I hate my job – the kind of day when things are trundling along and one is doing what one does to help our beneficiaries but somewhere deep down there is a feeling that there is a monster lurking in the dark which is going to pounce any minute… and then it does!!!

Around 30 minutes ago I received a WhatsApp message that made my heart drop, my stomach curdle and my eyes tear up…

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Childhood Cancer Survivors @ Higher Risk of Mental Illness

The results of a new study suggest that being labelled “a child survivor” leads to problems in adulthood

While many Children with Cancer now survive, new research has shown that they are at greater risk of poor mental health outcomes, such as anxiety and substance abuse, according to a Canadian oncologist who was surprised at the extent of severe issues.

About 80% of children with cancer will achieve a long-term cure. Yet childhood cancer survivors may be vulnerable to long-term physical effects that can be severe. Less is known about impacts on mental health.

In a recent issue of the journal Cancer, researchers analysed data from about 4,000 childhood cancer survivors in Ontario as well as 20,000 others in the general population to compare health care use. The findings have implications for mental health supports and parenting those who have survived cancer.

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Spoils, Giggles, Smiles & Tears at Greys Hospital

We just luuurvve our Little Fighters Cancer Trust Representatives – they do SUCH great work and we would not be able to do what we do without our volunteers and LFCT Reps.

Yesterday our Pietermaritzburg Rep, Lauren Hook, did a quick visit to Greys Hospital to bring some joy to all the Little Fighters there and was rewarded with broad smiles and infectious giggles.

Lauren does this regularly once a month and is always cheered by the gratefulness shown by the children as well as the mothers/carers for the little gifts for the kids. There is basically one ward and in it are children of all ages who really get very bored so any games, puzzles etc are always warmly welcomed.

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More Hope for Children with Leukaemia

The average survival rate for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), the most common type of children’s cancer, has gone from under 20% to 85%  – unfortunately this is not the case in South Africa though 😥

Cutting-edge treatments are constantly being developed for even the toughest cases, but once again, these treatments are not available in South Africa!

Children’s cancers are unique, but the lessons learned from the extraordinary success of consecutive clinical trials have paved the way for advances in cancer treatment in general. New scientific breakthroughs are happening extremely quickly in medicine these days, far quicker in actual fact than the ability to develop and fund new treatments. Unfortunately this also means wrestling with uncomfortable questions of fairness in deciding priorities — who will be treated first?

One of the most important developments in Childhood Cancer is the ability to tailor treatment — to figure out who needs powerful doses of chemotherapy and who could do with less. Lighter treatment causes less long-term damage to the rest of the developing body — very important for children who have their whole lives in front of them. In some subgroups of patients with ALL, we’re getting better-than-90% survival rates using minimal therapy. This will allow children to recover more fully, without long-term side-effects and with a normal life expectancy.

Right now, there are two groups of kids with ALL at high risk of dying: those with treatment-resistant disease, and those whose cancer recurs either more than once or after receiving a stem-cell transplant.



Even for these toughest cases though, there is now a promising new treatment: a type of immunotherapy calledCAR-T that harnesses the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells. Doctors remove immune cells, called T cells, from the child’s blood and reprogram them to find and destroy the leukaemia cells by changing the DNA that controls the immune response. Those cells are put back into the child’s bloodstream, where they multiply then track down and kill the cancer cells. (The first Child with Cancer to receive this experimental treatment, a girl who had been destined to die, is alive and well 12 years later.)

As doctors and scientists home in on the toughest cases, treatments will become more “customised” and more expensive. It currently costs in excess of $2 million to save the life of a child sent to the U.S. for the new CAR-T therapy. If this treatment was available in other countries, it would cost far less, and would be far less disruptive to both the Child with Cancer as well as the rest of the family who generally have to move to the US for at least the duration of the treatment.

It is hoped that the role of CAR-T treatment can be expanded to other types of cancer next — for example, brain tumours, which are the second-most-common group of childhood cancers.

The problem is that many medical aids will not cover such exorbitant costs. Also, there’s never going to be enough money to fully fund every emerging treatment and to try “everything” in every case, so pursuing one type of costly treatment means less money for another.

Many medical ethicists, governments, health-care professionals and ultimately everyone in society is grappling with the question of “If it costs $2 million for that treatment for one child but there are far fewer children with leukaemia than there are adults with breast and prostate cancer, and that amount would treat far more adults, What is a fair expense?

Ultimately, every advance we make in treating any type of cancer could help us to develop treatments for others, and hopefully we will see survival rates continue to rise, allowing the bedside role more and more to encompass hope as well as compassion.




Donate New Footwear & Winter Clothing for Kids with Cancer

We need YOUR help!!

This year the Little Fighters Cancer Trust is combining our Barefoot for a Day and Snug as a Bug Projects into one big project and we need YOU to donate NEW winter footwear (shoes, takkies, boots, slippers etc) and NEW winter clothing for our Little Fighters.

Your donations will be sorted and packed at our HQ and sent out to our Representatives in the various provinces, who then distribute the shoes and clothing to Children with Cancer in the Pediatric Oncology Hospital Wards and Oncology Clinics around the country.

Our Little Fighters have greatly impaired immune systems due to the cancer as well as the ravages of the Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments, so we can only accept NEW shoes and NEW clothing for these projects. (We do, however, accept donations of second-hand clothing and other goodies throughout the year for sale in our Pre-Loved Goods Charity Shoppe.)

All donations need to be in Paarl by the first week in March to ensure that they can be sorted and packed and sent to the various regions for delivery mid- to -end March.

If necessary we can organise for our wonderful transport company, Kargo, to collect sizable donations – with no charge to you at all.

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Barefoot & Snug Challenge to ALL South African Schools

The Little Fighters Cancer Trust is combining our Barefoot for a Day and Snug as a Bug Projects into one big project this year, and we put out the call for donations last week. (Read further down about the response we got and the reason for this Challenge!)

In both of the projects we ask for donations from the public, which are sorted and packed at our HQ and sent out to our Representative in the various provinces, who then distribute the shoes and clothing to Children with Cancer in the Pediatric Oncology Hospital Wards and Oncology Clinics around the country.

Our Little Fighters have greatly impaired immune systems due to the cancer as well as the ravages of the Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments, so we can only accept NEW shoes and NEW clothing for these projects. (We do, however, accept donations of second-hand clothing and other goodies throughout the year for sale in our Pre-Loved Goods Charity Shoppe.)

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Call To Promote Global Childhood Cancer Awareness

Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients, FoCP, and wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, has called for combined global efforts to promote worldwide awareness of paediatric cancer and provide access to treatment for children suffering from cancer, particularly in low and middle-income countries.

The call was made on the sidelines of the launch of the Access to Essential Medicines for Children with Cancer, Sharjah PORTAGE, Forum, held earlier this month, under the theme ‘Challenges and Pursuit of Innovative Solutions’, with the participation of 60 senior officials of international health organisations, medical and health experts, and heads of private and public sector entities from around the world.

By playing host to the childhood cancer forum in line with the vision and directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate is taking a new step in its commitment to combat cancer. Sharjah is pushing even further joint initiatives and collaboration with various international agencies as part of a worldwide campaign to promote awareness about the importance of early detection of cancer and combining efforts to save the lives of thousands of children with cancer around in the world, many of whom have died due to lack of resources,” said Sheikha Jawaher, who is also the International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control, UICC.

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