Blog Archives

Preparing for the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Death


The 12 months following the death of a loved one is known as “the year of firsts” and for obvious reasons, is extremely difficult to get through. Dealing with the first birthday, Christmas, etc. is painful, and does not necessarily equip one to face that dreaded anniversary of the loss.

Grief is a complicated experience, partially because it never truly resolves itself but rather changes over time and meanders along different paths; some difficult and others not so difficult.

Facing the anniversary of a meaningful loss can completely blindside one, even though we know that it is coming and generally anticipate it with dread. Just as with other “stages” of grief, getting through this time can be immensely difficult and there is no right way or wrong way to approach it; the experience is different for each individual.

Every single person will be faced with losses of those we love and admire throughout our lifetime, and the loss of a child is always the worst.

 

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How do I Prepare for My Child’s Death?


The approaching death of a child is likely to be the most difficult time in any parent’s life. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around…

Dealing with your child’s cancer is all-consuming; it drains you and the rest of your family – of strength, of vitality, of joy, of finances, and leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless much of the time.

Many parents feel that, even though they have already been given the prognosis and know that their child is dying, to acknowledge it means that they are giving up… Other families feel that they need to get their affairs in order…

Everyone is different and copes in their own way – there is really no right or wrong way to cope with the impending death of a child – you just need to cope in whichever way feels right for you and your family, no matter what anyone else may think or say.

It is often believed that difficult times can bring a family together and make the family unit stronger, but hardships can also create divisions. This sometimes happens if one parent has been more involved in their child’s care, which could mean that they are further along with the various stages of understanding and preparation than the other parent.

Dealing with the trauma of a child with an incurable disease is difficult, and individuals can go through various stages of disbelief, anger, understanding, acceptance and preparation. It is individual though, and does not always occur in the manner that we would expect.

 

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Phytochemicals & the Fight Against Cancer


Children facing the demands of cancer treatment must eat healthily in order to get the nutrients that can fuel the body and aid in healing as well as assist in maintaining a healthy weight.

Special nutritional challenges are bound to arise throughout treatment because the side-effects of Childhood Cancer and Cancer Treatment Therapies such as Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy can result in changes in your eating habits and differences in the way your body uses nutrients. Nutritional needs and eating habits are affected differently depending on the type of cancer and its treatment.

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals (phyto means plant in Greek). They provide plants with colour, odour and flavour. Once we eat them, however, research shows they can influence the chemical processes inside our bodies in helpful ways.

Findings from laboratory studies have shown that phytochemicals have the potential to:

  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Block substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens
  • Reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely
  • Prevent DNA damage and help with DNA repair
  • Reduce the kind of oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer
  • Slow the growth rate of cancer cells
  • Trigger damaged cells to commit suicide before they can reproduce
  • Help to regulate hormones

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Childhood Cancer & Infertility


Whether your baby, toddler or young child who is currently caught up in the fight of their lives against cancer will eventually be able to have children or not is probably the last thing on your mind, but it may be something that you should take into consideration…

Some cancer treatments do not affect a child’s growing reproductive system, but others can damage a girl’s ovaries, which contain eggs, or a boy’s testes, which contain sperm. This damage may make it impossible to have a baby for a short period after completing cancer therapy or for the rest of the person’s life.

Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, and other cancer treatments can be very effective at doing their job, but what makes them good at fighting cancer can also cause side effects.

One of the side-effects of cancer treatments can affect the reproductive organs and have long-term effects on a child’s reproductive health. Side effects such as reduced fertility as a result of cancer treatments are known as late effects.

Your child’s risk of having late effects depends on his or her diagnosis, the type of treatment your child is getting, and the dosages. Everyone is different so it’s best to discuss the subject with your child’s medical team.

Your child’s doctor should be able to tell you whether their cancer treatment regimen is likely to have short- or long-term effects on your child’s reproductive health or not.

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Do Childhood Cancer Survivors have a Genetic Risk for Future Cancers?


According to the first large-scale whole-genome sequencing study on Childhood Cancer Survivors, approximately 12% of them have genetic mutations that put them or their children at risk for future cancers.

Previous studies include Second Primary Cancers in Survivors of Childhood Cancer, published in The Lancet in 2009, a registry-based report about a Nordic cohort of 47 697 childhood cancer survivors reported that “The overall risk of second primary cancers was 2·3-fold greater than that in the general population. In two large cohorts of 14 581 individuals who had survived for 5 years or more (USA, Childhood Cancer Survivor Study) and 16 541 who had survived for 3 years or more (UK, population-based study), the risk was reported to be 6·4-fold2 and 5·8-fold3 greater, respectively, than that in the general population.”

The findings from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s latest whole genome sequencing of cancer survivors study was recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2017 Annual Meeting, and highlights the previously under-appreciated role that genetics plays in second neoplasms (SNs).

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South African Singing Doctor to Launch Debut Album in Cape Town


One of The Mother’s City top singing-doctors is set to launch a new CD later this month, with the sole purpose of using his passion to make a difference in his community.

Upright Citizen is the début musical album released by singing-doctor Marc Hendricks, and he is set to dazzle Cape Town audiences at the Artscape Theatre on 22 April, for a one-night only performance.

Dr. Marc is well-known to the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, as he is the much-loved and well-respected treating oncologist for many of our Little Fighters, who spend a lot of time at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Proceeds of the show will be donated to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital for transformation initiatives.

Dr. Marc, as he is fondly referred to by our Little Fighters and their Families, is a wonderful, caring, compassionate Paediatric Oncologist who also has the voice of an angel (listen to him performing his composition BIRD SONG on the video below).

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Caution Called for in Development of Drugs for Most Common Malignant Paediatric Brain Tumour


Researchers led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have worked out how a crucial cancer-related protein, a “histone writer” called Ezh2, plays a role in suppressing as well as driving the most aggressive form of the brain tumour medulloblastoma.

Ezh2 is a histone writer, an enzyme that can tag or label other proteins in a way that turns off genes. The new findings, which appear online in Cell Reports, show that unlike in some earlier studies where the protein helped to advance disease, Ezh2 can also suppress cancer. This dichotomy has implications for the potential use of drugs intended to inhibit this enzyme, some of which are being tested in clinical trials.

The enzyme looked at in this study is the histone H3K27 mono-, di- and trimethylase of polycomb repressive complex 2, or Ezh2 for short. This histone writer adds methyl groups to specific histone proteins leading to epigenetic modifications that affect gene expression. The team used CRISPR gene editing to knock out the activity of the protein in a mouse model. Loss of function of this protein due to gene editing resulted in acceleration of the development of medulloblastoma tumours.

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Please Support Our Mother’s Day Project


Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

All mothers deserve a day to be honoured, and no mothers deserve to be honoured more than mothers of Children with Cancer. These mothers live under tremendous stress for months, sometimes years while their child is engaged in a battle for their life.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of these mothers ~ your child has been given what amounts to a death sentence before they have even had a chance to really live…

Add to this the confusion and uncertainty; the many visits to doctors, clinics, and hospitals; the myriad of tests and treatments; the fear that their child may die; the financial strain and the strain of trying to give your other children what they need too…

Now think about the many hours, weeks and often months that these mothers spend in hospital wards at the bedside of their child, praying, crying while they sleep and trying to show a brave smiling face when they are awake…

Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Anniversaries, Kwanza, Pesach… none of them matter to a mother if her child is ill… she will maintain a vigil at their bedside, often to the detriment of her own health…

 

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The Face of a True Warrior


This is 10-year-old Little Fighter Brendon, and last week he made a short video for all his supporters to tell them how he was doing and thank them for the support; he first did this in Afrikaans (his home language) but when asked by Mandie if next time he could do one in English for those Little Fighter Supporters who do not understand Afrikaans, he immediately made a second one in English – what a CHAMP!!!

What is more important though, is that he made these videos a short few days after massive surgery to place a Broviac Line as well as open chest surgery to do a biopsy on his thymus.

This is what inspires us about our Little Fighters and keeps us doing what we do – all of these children who are fighting cancer are SO strong and somehow, through it all they all smile most of the time…

Brendon suffered from severe abdominal pain and cramping and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2016, but his suffering continued as did the doctors visits, various medications, various medical tests, and loads of financial and psychological stress for the whole family.

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Early Deaths from Childhood Cancer Up to 4 X More Common Than Previously Reported


Treatments for childhood cancers have improved to the point that 5-year survival rates are over 80 %.

However, one group has failed to benefit from these improvements, namely children who die so soon after diagnosis that they are not able to receive treatment, or who receive treatment so late in the course of their disease that it is destined to fail.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology explores this challenging population, finding that death within a month of diagnosis is more likely in very young children and those from minority racial and ethnic groups even independent of low socioeconomic status.

The study uses a large national database to find that the rate of deaths within one month of diagnosis has been previously under-reported in clinical trial data, with early deaths from some paediatric cancer subtypes up to four times as common as had been implied by clinical trial reports.

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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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Michael Bublé Steps down from Hosting 2017 JUNO AWARDS, to Focus on Son’s Health


For the second time this year, Michael Bublé has withdrawn from a prior commitment in order to “focus on his family” amid his 3-year old son’s cancer battle.

According to a statement issued by Bell Media, the 41-year old entertainer has pulled out of hosting Canada’s biggest music awards show, the Juno Awards, that is scheduled to be held on April 2.

Iconic rocker Bryan Adams and megastar comedian Russell Peters are set to take the stage as co-hosts.

The Little Fighters Cancer Trust joins in the rest of the world in taking its hat off to Michael for doing the right thing and putting his focus on his family and his son’s battle with cancer as we more than most realise that when a  child has cancer the whole family is affected and the one thing that child needs  most is the support of loving parents.

“Our thoughts continue to be with Michael — we respect his ongoing commitment to his family and look forward to working with him again in the future,” the statement reads.

 

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