Blog Archives

Gene Therapy: Does it Work?


While Gene Therapy has been around for a few years already, we don’t seem to be hearing much about it being used to treat cancer, especially paediatric cancer, and one cannot help but wonder why…

In most gene therapy studies, a “normal” gene is inserted into the genome to replace an “abnormal,” disease-causing gene. In cancer, some cells become diseased because certain genes have been permanently turned off. Using gene therapy, mutated genes that cause disease could be turned off so that they no longer promote disease, or healthy genes that help prevent disease could be turned on so that they can inhibit the disease.

Other cells may be missing certain genes. Researchers hope that replacing missing or defective genes can help treat certain diseases. For example, a common tumor suppressor gene called p53 normally prevents tumor growth in your body. Several types of cancer have been linked to a missing or inactive p53 gene. If doctors could replace p53 where it’s missing, that might trigger the cancer cells to die.

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Foodie Friday: Pancakes, Pasta & Pudding


So, it is Friday again – whew, what a week!

A little birdie told me that there are some people who are really enjoying the Foodie Friday posts (although I wouldn’t know it as nobody ever comments 😩 ) so here are some more interesting and healthy recipes for you and your Child with Cancer to try out together.

Today we have another alternative to the usual boring breakfast that is sure to tempt your Little Fighter to eat the most important meal of the day; an easy but tasty pasta, and something sweet for your sweets.

Guaranteed scrumptious and guaranteed to tickle their (and your ) tastebuds!

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Childhood Cancer Survivorship


Getting cancer is something NOBODY wants, and it is even more tragic when a young soul is diagnosed with cancer. Fighting cancer is a battle that leaves many scars, not all of them physical


Those who have survived cancer are often left with a different appreciation of life, even children who have not yet lived much of theirs.

Survivors can also, however, become very anxious about their health; about whether the cancer will return; about the visits to the doctor for the next how many ever years, and then when the regular visits stop.

Another problem is that unless you have had cancer or have cared for someone who has survived cancer, there is NO WAY you can understand what a cancer Survivor goes through for the rest of their life! Most people seem to think that having cancer is a temporary situation and that once you are through the treatments it means that you are cured and life should just continue as per normal – this is FAR from the truth!

Cancer is in effect a revolving door, and at any moment a scan could land a Survivor right back in the territory of Active Cancer Treatment

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Helen’s Story – Retinoblastoma Part 2


 

Helen 2nd birthday mickey mouse party

Hey There,

Helen and mommy Siobahn here again – today we are going to continue with “Helen’s Story” because we want everyone out there to know about Childhood Cancer and about my cancer, Retinoblastoma.

Now that the problem had been diagnosed as Retinoblastoma, things moved along very quickly. The diagnosis was made on the Thursday and the operation to remove the eye was scheduled for the next Monday.

Helen underwent an MRI Scan as well as a Lumbar Puncture in order to determine whether cancer was present anywhere else in Helen’s body. Fortunately all tests came back negative and it was determined that the cancer was confined to Helen’s left eye.

Helen underwent surgery to remove the eye and she and mommy stayed overnight in ICU and in the normal Paediatric ward the next night, during which time Helen she had a plaster over her eye. The plaster was removed before she went home the next day and replaced by a transparent shield to prevent infection and was removed two weeks later.

A ball implant was inserted into the empty eye socket and Helen currently wears nothing over the eye  – she will get a prosthesis when she is a little bit older and able to handle the hygiene it requires (toddlers tend to play in the sand or touch unhygienic toys etc. and then rub their eyes).

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Helen’s Story – Retinoblastoma Part 1


 

Helen 7 months old

Hi,

my name is Helen and my mommy and I would like to share my story with you so that more people can get to know about Childhood Cancer; in this case specifically Retinoblastoma.

Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer that develops in the light-sensitive lining of the eye, called the retina, and can occur at any age but mainly occurs in children younger than 5 years of age and most often in those younger than 2.

Retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes, but rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Although it is the most common eye tumour in children, it is a rare childhood cancer and accounts for about 3-4% of childhood cancers.

The main challenge of treating Retinoblastoma is the prevention of blindness, however approximately 98% of children with retinoblastoma are cured.

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How To: Boost Your Child with Cancer’s Mood


children-dancing-smallJust the mere word “cancer” is enough to send most people into a fit of depression, and this is no different for a child.

A diagnosis of cancer, together with the treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, the pain, nausea, hair loss, anaemia, and the constant hospital visits or having to stay indoors and not have friends around or go to school due to an impaired immune system can get anyone down and moody.

Childhood cancer is vile, despicable, wretched, depressing, demoralising, and soul-wrenching, and the best thing that you can do for your Little Fighter is to help them feel better by boosting their mood.

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High Cost of Cancer Treatments Impact Medication Adherence


pillsAccording to a recent study conducted by researchers at the American Cancer Society and published in the journal Cancer, the high ever-rising cost of cancer treatment is affecting prescription drug adherence.

The study, which used data from the National Health Interview Survey, found that patients with cancer were far more likely to stop taking their medication or switch it for financial reasons than patients with other diseases.

Rising deductibles, co-payments, co-insurance and tiered drug formularies all contribute to the increasing percentage of cancer care cost that patients must now pay for out of pocket. This can affect survivors’ overall wellbeing, lead to poorer treatment choices, have a negative effect on outcomes and cause higher medical expenses down the line, according to the study.

“I would encourage patients to discuss their financial concerns with their care providers when making treatment decisions,” said Xuesong Han, Ph.D., strategic director, Health Policy and Healthcare Delivery Research at the American Cancer Society, and author on the study.

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Foodie Friday: Pasta, Kebabs & Power Bombs


foodiefriday-wp-logoWOW! Can you believe that another week has flown past and it is once again Foodie Friday? We hope that you have all had a great, healthy and fun-filled week and that all our Little Fighters are feeling strong!

As we all know, Children with Cancer often struggle to eat due to problems with their mouths or throats due to their treatment, or because cancer treatment makes one nauseous and takes away the appetite.

Eating well and getting sufficient nutrition, however, is paramount in building up their immune systems and in helping them to maintain their weight and fight the cancer

Here are some more tasty, healthy recipes that we hope that you and your Little Fighter will enjoy making and eating


 

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Less Use of Radiation Therapy Leads to Decline in Secondary Cancers in Childhood Cancer Survivors


AtomResearch done by St Jude Children’s Research Hospital shows that Childhood Cancer survival rates are on the rise and that children are seeing fewer new tissue growths as well as fewer complications later on. Researchers say that this decline is due to a sharp drop in the use of radiation therapy.

Radiation treatment in paediatric cancers has been cut by nearly half since 1970; the percentage of pediatric cancer patients treated with radiation fell from 77% to 33%. The average radiation dose has also lessened.

Radiation therapy was long seen as the standard treatment for treating various cancers, but in recent years, scientists have learned that the probability of second cancers increases as the radiation dose increases. Radiation kills off the cancerous tissue, but the downside is that it is very difficult to localise the high energy X-rays and they often hit other uninfected tissues, which can cause a second cancer to develop.

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Ringing Out after Cancer Treatment


the-bellChildren with Cancer can spend weeks, months and even years undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for their cancer.

Cancer is insidious and unforgiving to those children and families who have to endure it. A cancer diagnosis of any kind from leukaemia to a bone tumour, can physically, emotionally and mentally impact the entire family unit in some capacity. The financial strain of cancer treatment can also cripple a family ad place great strain on both the Child with Cancer and the rest of the Family.

For children, enduring this kind of treatment means having to deal with horrible things that children should not have to deal with; things like needle pricks, nausea, vomiting, loss of strength and hair loss. That’s why finishing chemotherapy or radiation treatment is so amazing.

A ringing bell can signify many different things, but in the life of a Cancer Warrior it means an end and a beginning – the end of all those horrific treatments and hospital stays and the beginning of life as a Survivor, a “normal” child who can once again do “normal” things.

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Warning Signs of Paediatric Cancers


awareness_childhood_cancer_boxing_penguinCancers are malignant (malicious) growths or tumours caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division which may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood stream.

An arbitrarily adopted standard of the ages used if they are childhood cancers, are 0–14 years inclusive, that is, up to 14 years 11.9 months of age.

Paediatric oncology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in children.

Cancer isn’t fair at any age, but perhaps no cancer is more emotionally devastating than those that occur in children. Worldwide, it is estimated that childhood cancer has an incidence of more than 250,000 per year, and a mortality rate of approximately 98,000 per year. Death from Childhood Cancer is second only to death from accidents according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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Childhood Cancers on the Rise in Ghana


my-child-matter-fight-against-childhood-cancer-2Childhood cancer is on the increase in Ghana with only two out of ten children with cancer surviving in the country.

Mr Dennis Ocansey, the Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme (NCD) at the Korle-bu Teaching hospital has indicated that childhood cancers have increased in the country over the years.

He said the country has in recent years been recording close to 1,000 childhood cancers annually among children below fifteen years.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Ocansey said the causes of many of these childhood cancers were largely unknown but resulted from the genetic predisposition of some patients, environmental factors such as radiation, pesticides and some drugs which increase the risk of developing cancer.

“Common cancers among children nowadays are Lymphomas-cancer of the lymphoid tissues, leukaemia cancer of the blood cells, Retinoblastoma-cancer of the eye, Nephroblastoma-cancer of the kidney, cancers of muscle or bone in different parts of the body as well as brain cancers,” he said.

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