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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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Don’t Cry at my Grave – Prevent My Landing up There!!

I have just finished reading a few articles on a young cancer patient who got his angel wings on New Year’s Day, and I am ANGRY!!!

I am ANGRY that young Junaid Arendse from Mitchells Plain, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in 2014 passed away at the tender young age of 8, even though he outlived his doctor’s predictions – in  June 2015 the doctors gave him 3 months to live.

I am ANGRY that one of our Little Fighters passed away on 12 January before we even had time to register him and offer any help.

I am ANGRY that two more families have to deal with the loss of a young child to a disease that is devastating in so many ways.

I am ANGRY that in other countries the childhood cancer survival rate is between 65% and 98% yet in South Africa the overall survival was calculated to be a mere 52.1%.

I am ANGRY that here at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, we are not strangers to death from Childhood Cancer… we see it too often every year!

“Child loss is not an event;
It is an indescribable journey of survival”
~ Author Unknown ~

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✨Thankful Thursday✨

The Little Fighters Cancer Trust functions with a tiny full-time team of 4 and works Nationally with the help of various Volunteers, Ambassadors, Representatives, and some wonderful Corporates too, without whom we could literally not function and do everything that we do.

These are the people who work in the background and about whom most of you do not know, or if you do even know that they exist, have absolutely no idea of exactly how integral they are to the continued existence and functioning of LFCT ~ These are the individuals that are the backbone of an organisation like ours…

We think that it is time that we change this fact, so we will be running a series of articles over the next little while that highlights these integral members of Team LFCT.

“A kind gesture can reach a wound
That only compassion can heal.
~ Steve Maraboli ~

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Happy New Year

A fresh new year is once again almost upon us and it is the time to reflect on and be thankful for the blessings of the past year and to take stock of all our achievements.

While the Little Fighters Cancer Trust has had some road-bumps along the way, the Team has risen to the challenge and kept on going no matter what…

Despite the challenges, we persevered and did achieve a lot over the past year….

We had Good Times & Bad; we Moved and then Moved Again; we had Parties and Giftings; we had Mother’s Day and Easter and Get WRAPPED and Pizza Parties; we had Blossoms, Funky Frogs & Princes, Princesses and Superheroes; we had Kargo & the Fire Department; we had Art Exhibitions and Awareness Drives; we had Dance Competitions and Paint Parties; we had a Photographic Fundraising Event and a Golf Day;  we fought Cancer (and had also some great professionals fight for us); we Kicked Cancer’s Butt and Cancer Kicked our Butts 😥

Many things changed during 2017, and even though we crawled a few times, we were never counted out; and even though we go into 2018 with a few changes the main thing that remains constant is Team LFCT’s Commitment to Children with Cancer & their Families!

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✨Foodie Friday✨ Summer Christmas Recipes

Christmas in South Africa, as in the rest of the Southern Hemisphere is a unique and splendid thing.

While most Christmas Carols, adverts, cards, recipes, etc. are geared towards a winter Christmas, and most others think of chestnuts roasting over an open fire at this time of the year, those of us Down South are thinking about pools, beaches and barbecues, aka BRAAIS in South Africa!

It is already rather intolerably hot and the last thing anyone wants to think about is slaving over a hot stove or eating hot, heavy Christmas food and baked desserts.

We will, therefore, over the next two weeks, be bringing you some lovely and slightly different summery recipes – different methods of preparing and presenting the traditional chicken, turkey and lamb, and some awesome cold side-dishes that will go well with either a braai or baked, grilled meat done in the oven.

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✨Foodie Friday✨ Vegetarian Christmas Recipes

With Christmas around the corner we are all looking for some great recipes for our families, and that includes recipes that Children with Cancer will enjoy, but what about those of us who are vegetarian?

Children with Cancer especially, need to eat as many veggies as possible as they need them to build up their immmune systems which are impaired due to the cancer and the chemotherapy and/ radiation therapy treatments.

Cooking for a vegetarian can be, but need not be, either expensive or boring. Today we bring you some great vegetarian recipes (including a gluten free tabouli).

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New Drug Approved for CINV Treatment

We recently did a blogpost on Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), a  common — and often costly — problem among patients with cancer.

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, and many more.

Cinvanti (aprepitant) injectable emulsion – was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting (CINV).

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