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Childhood Cancer ~ Part III: Talking to Your Child about Their Cancer

little-boy-with-cancerAs previously explained, 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 3 will deal with talking to your child about their cancer; should you or shouldn’t you; when should you; who should tell your child, and how much you should tell your child.

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Coping with Appetite Loss in Childhood Cancer

Appetite LossSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

A poor appetite or even loss of appetite is common with cancer and cancer treatment, and children with cancer may not feel hungry at all, eat less than usual, or feel full after eating only a little bit of food.

Ongoing appetite problems may result in your child losing weight, not getting the nutrients from food that his or her body needs, and loss of muscle mass and strength, all of which are serious complications.  The combination of weight loss and muscle mass loss is called cachexia, or wasting.

Nutritional supplement drinks, medications that help food move through the intestine, and tube feeding (the use of a tube that passes through the nose into the stomach), can also be helpful when your child has no appetite or cannot eat.

Getting good nutrition and keeping a healthy weight are important parts of your child’s recovery and can help them cope better both physically and emotionally with the effects of cancer and cancer treatment.


Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Appetite Loss on our static page, Appetite Loss



Can You Help??

R100 noteCan YOU Spare R100 per Month?

Let’s face it, R100 does not buy much in South Africa any more, and with the price of goods, including food and transport, rising dramatically every week, soon it will buy even less…

Imagine then, a family in which there is only one breadwinner and who has a Child with Cancer to support…

Now it is difficult to raise children and ensure that they get everything that they need to grow up healthy and get a good education at the best of times, but having a Child with cancer in the home stretches that difficulty enormously and places untold stress on the parents.

Many families with a Child with Cancer end up having to sell their homes, or lose their rented homes due to the high cost of cancer because they cannot make it on just one income, and this has a devastating affect on the Child with Cancer and on the rest of the family. It is just not right that a family is “punished” because they are not rich and cannot afford to pay all of the expenses that this disease brings… and unfortunately it is often those who can least afford it who have to deal with this scourge.

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Yoga as a Complementary Therapy for Cancer

yogaYoga is an ancient lifestyle practice that uses a series of movements and poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation to allow a deeper connection to Self. The word yoga means “to join” or “union.”

Yoga focuses on joining the Body, Mind, Breath and Spirit together in harmony and focus, without mental distractions.

Yoga has been practised for thousands of years. Strict followers of the discipline observe a number of beliefs and practices, including ethics, dietary guidelines and spirituality.

Yoga can help people living with cancer relieve their anxiety and depression. It’s also been shown to increase a sense of spiritual well-being and may also potentially help with fatigue or sleeping problems.

Yoga is great for children with cancer because it is one of the integrative therapies that could involve both patients and their loved ones in a more hands-on approach.

Yoga also allows the Child with Cancer around 45 minutes away from their illness; time to once again be the child they are meant to be, and not a cancer patient. Yoga can also benefit the mother/caregiver as they are also given the freedom to be a playful and carefree for a while and to enjoy being with the child in almost normal circumstances, as opposed to being a full-time carer.

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Music Therapy as a Complementary Therapy for Cancer

music therapy goofyMusic therapy is the use of music by trained professionals to encourage relaxation and enhance quality of life in people receiving health care. The hope is to relieve stress and promote well-being.

Some people experience reduction of symptoms and improved healing. If you love listening to music, this therapy might be right for you.

During music therapy, you listen to music or use musical instruments under the guidance of a music therapist.

Other types of music therapy include singing and writing songs. Music therapy may be used along with other therapies, such as art therapy.

Music therapy uses music and sound to help one express one’s emotions; cope with symptoms of a disease and its treatment; improve one’s emotional and physical well-being; develop self confidence and self esteem; develop or re-kindle a sense of creativity; and help one to relax and feel comfortable.

You don’t need to have any musical ability or experience to benefit from music therapy. It is thought that our brain and body respond naturally to sound, including the rhythm and beat of music.

Music therapy is one of the best types of therapy for children with cancer, because who does not like music? Music therapy allows them to have fun and forget about the pain, nausea and other problems they are facing in their fight against cancer, if only for a little while.

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Childhood Cancer in Africa – Part 3

These days, most childhood cancers can be cured, but as each patient is different, how well treatment works will depend on the type of cancer, the child’s age, and various other factors. Cancer treatment can cause unwanted side effects for young patients, as well as other problems during and after treatment.

While early treatment of cancer symptoms and the side effects of therapy help patients feel better, stay stronger, and cope with life after cancer, it is Supportive Care that improves the patient’s physical, psychological, social, and spiritual quality of life.

Improvements in supportive care have been shown to impact positively on outcomes for Children with Cancer in Africa too, but despite ongoing efforts, to date no single comprehensive qualitative report exists that examines the status of supportive care facilities in African POUs.

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Happy Universal Children’s Day!!


Today is Universal Children’s Day!!

In 1954 the United Nations General Assembly recommended that all countries around the world should set aside a day to celebrate children. The aim was that Children’s Day would be seen as a symbol of worldwide fraternity and understanding, and also be an opportunity to promote the welfare of children.

The Assembly suggested that Children’s Day be observed on the date which each country considers appropriate. Read the rest of this entry

Protecting Your Child from the Summer Sun


With summer virtually here and the School Holidays and Festive Season around the corner, we all need to make sure that we protect ourselves from the harsh African sun.

Every day parents are bombarded with conflicting advice as to what is best for their children; children aren’t exercising enough — get them outside;  children are at risk for skin cancer — get them inside!

This can be very confusing, especially for newer parents, but the truth is actually that both you and your children can and should enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle, with plenty of outdoor exercise, without any danger – by practicing good sun-protection habits.

tr-nau-nuong-1Every child needs sun protection, and all children, regardless of their pigmentation should wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Although dark skin has more protective melanin and tans more easily than it burns, tanning is a sign of sun damage. Dark-skinned children can also get painful sunburns.

We South Africans love being outdoors during the summer, whether it be braaing around the pool, hiking or having a picnic on the beach… and we can continue to do all of these things as long as we apply some simple rules about being out in the sun.

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Picnic in the Onco Paedi Ward

spreading-love1The work that we do is often heartbreaking, and listening to all the stories of the battles that our Little Fighters and their families are facing, sharing the news that another Little Fighter has earned his wings and constantly trying to source more funding to enable us to do what we do can be heartbreaking, frustrating and depressing… but then we get to do what we are here for… to make the lives of our Little Fighters a little bit easier… to show them some love… to give them some treats… and to put a smile on their faces, and it makes all the difficult times worthwhile as we remember why we do what we do…

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The Little Fighters Cancer Trust is thrilled to share our latest fundraising (ad)venture with you all today ~ the SEVEN7 Drive!

Sometime during the first week of July, 2015, very early in the morning, before even the birdies are awake, an “Africanised”  Next-generation Kia Sorento 2.0 FWD, kindly sponsored by KIA SOUTH AFRICA, sporting Little Fighters Cancer Trust branding and carrying 3 intrepid adventurers will depart from an undisclosed venue in Gauteng, RSA on an epic 6 200km driving adventure through Southern Africa, covering  seven countries (and seven hospitals) – in seven days!

Danie Botha, G.G van Rooyen and Jan van Deventer are embarking on this journey to raise funds for Children with Cancer, specifically for Children with Cancer who are terminal and are not covered by Medical Aid.

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