Blog Archives

Foodie Friday: Anti Side-Effect Recipes


It is important to eat small meals more often while undergoing conventional cancer treatments such as Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy.

For those who are suffering side-effects such as dysphasia, sore mouths or nausea, consuming a nutrient dense smoothie for one meal and then trying some sun-dried fruits (without sugar) and untoasted nuts as a snack a few hours later is a good idea.

A lunch with salad greens, bitter herbs, apple slices, berries and a dressing made with lemon and olive oil, a pinch of cayenne pepper and avocado makes an exceptionally nutrient-dense meal.

This type of Ayurvedic diet plan will increase your sense of taste, smell, and appetite and help one heal and feel good.

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Remedies for Diarrhoea after Cancer Therapy


Conventional Cancer Treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy unfortunately generally come with a variety of not-so-nice side effects, such as diarrhoea, one of the more dangerous side effects.

Diarrhoea can not only be painful, but it also removes important nutrients, probiotics, and water from the body. As a result, diarrhoea puts one at a higher risk for more trauma from infection and dehydration.

It is important to manage these side effects immediately to prevent further complications that will weaken your body. The best way to heal is to ensure that you eat only healthy foods and avoid problematic foods that are going to worsen your diarrhoea.

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When Your Child with Cancer is Taking Steroids


child-cancer-and-steroidsSteroids occur naturally within our bodies, but can also be made in the laboratory for medical purposes. They help reduce inflammation and control different functions in our bodies such as the immune system or the way the body uses food. One of their key functions is to reduce inflammation/swelling and ease associated symptoms, such as headaches.

When your child has a tumour in their brain it is not only the tumour itself that causes some of the symptoms they may have, but also the swelling surrounding the tumour. This swelling puts pressure on surrounding tissues making the effects of the tumour wider reaching. This pressure can cause symptoms such as headaches, sickness and seizures (fits).

To help reduce the swelling, Children with Cancer may be prescribed steroids such as Prednisone or Dexamethasone as part of their treatment. As steroids are fast-acting drugs this could mean that some of the effects caused by the tumour reduce quite quickly. This does not mean, however, that the size of tumour itself has been reduced.

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Basic Food Price Increases in South Africa Impacting Health of Children with Cancer


shopping trolleyThe price of basic foods eaten by low-income households in South Africa has increased by 15% in the past year, and many households can no longer get through the month on the household earnings, according to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA).

PACSA, upon releasing its annual Food Price Barometer on the 13th October, which tracks the prices of 36 basic foods, warned of “greater levels of social instability” as people faced hunger and desperation.

The reason for this post is to give you all just an idea of what we are faced with when our Childhood Cancer Families come to us for help, and why we are struggling so much more this year to be able to help them (apart from all other projects and various other kinds of help, LFCT currently provides in excess of 130 Families with groceries every month).

With one of the parents having had to give up their job to care for their Child with Cancer these families are REALLY struggling to make ends meet for the whole family due to less income and all the added financial costs that come with having a Child with Cancer in the household (added travel costs, added medical costs, special dietary requirements, special personal hygiene requirements, etc. etc.)

Households with no savings to draw on cannot absorb shocks by spending more money,” said PACSA’s Mervyn Abrahams and Julie Smith.

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Celebrating Heini – Brain Cancer


heini-sept-16-1September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and once again the Little Fighters Cancer Trust is hard at work sharing everything we can regarding Childhood Cancer and trying to raise Childhood Cancer Awareness by sharing information and Personal Stories with you.

Today we are once again sharing the story of Little Heinrich van Straaten (Heini). We have shared his story before, but we feel that we need to share it again as this Little Fighter is still fighting every day of his life as a result of brain cancer.

The Little Fighters Cancer Trust would like to sincerely thank all our Onco Parents that have shared with us in the hope that their stories can help other parents who have children that are ill but are not sure what the problem is, and to raise Childhood Cancer Awareness so that earlier diagnosis can be done.

We will continue to publish more poems and stories by Onco Parents throughout this month as we work hard to bring Childhood Cancer to the fore and spread Childhood Cancer Awareness – all in the effort to inform and educate other parents to the ravages of Childhood Cancer and to remind everyone that

The Best Defence against Childhood Cancer is Awareness and Early Diagnosis

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Coping with Late Effects of Childhood Cancer Treatment


Late Effects of Childhood Cancer TreatmentAround 80% of Children with Cancer survive at least 5 years these days thanks to advances in treatment, and most of those children will continue on to live a normal life-time.

Unfortunately, the selfsame treatments that are helping Children with Cancer to overcome the cancer, are themselves causing various health problems later on in these children’s lives.

Most side-effects from the cancer itself and from the cancer treatments appear during or just after treatment, and go away within a fairly short time.

Some problems, however, may never go away or may not show up until months or years after treatment.These problems are called late effects.

Due to the fact that more children with cancer now survive into adulthood, their long-term health and these late effects have become more evident and because doctors are more aware of the late side-effects, they will look out for them in careful follow-ups and can therefore find and treat any late effects as early as possible.

Every Child with Cancer that is undergoing cancer treatment is unique; treatments vary from child to child and from one type of cancer to another. Late effects will also vary, and depend mostly on the type of treatment used and the doses given.

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Coping with Weight Loss in Childhood Cancer


weightlossSymptom 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.

Weight loss is commonplace among individuals with cancer – it is frequently the first noticeable sign of the disease.

Around 40% of individuals with cancer have experienced unexplained weight loss at the time of diagnosis, and as many as 80% of people with advanced cancer experience weight loss and cachexia (wasting), which is the combination of weight loss and muscle mass loss.

Weight loss and muscle wasting are also often accompanied by Fatigue, loss of energy, weakness, and an inability to perform everyday tasks. Individuals experiencing cachexia often cannot manage treatments well and may also experience more intense symptoms.

Nutrition counseling may help your child get Essential Nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals into their diet and maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your child’s healthcare team for help or for a referral to a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Weight Loss on our static page, Weight Loss in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Chemobrain in Childhood Cancer


23843263_sSymptom 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 part of the overall treatment plan.

Around 70% of cancer survivors report difficulties with memory and concentration after undergoing chemotherapy – this is conversationally referred to as “Chemobrain,” which is described as a mental clouding or fogginess, during and after cancer treatment.

Chemobrain refers to the cognitive impairment that can occur after cancer treatment. It’s not limited to people who undergo chemotherapy (surgery and radiation can also contribute), but it’s more noticeable if one has undergone chemotherapy.

Symptoms of chemobrain can be very frustrating because no matter how well your child speaks or writes, it can cause them to forget words that they have used often, making them have to resort to saying “that thing” or “the thing” instead of “that car” or “the cat” for instance.

Chemobrain is partially based on body and mind fatigue. Animal studies have shown that chemotherapy may cause temporary reductions in cell growth in brain areas (e.g. the hippocampus) that control learning and memory.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Chemobrain on our static page, Chemobrain in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Weight Gain in Childhood Cancer


Symptom 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.

Although most individuals lose weight during cancer treatment, some gain weight. Minor increases in weight during cancer treatment are generally not a problem, but significant weight-gain may affect your child’s health and ability to undergo treatment.

Being overweight could also negatively impact your child’s self-image and could lead to them being teased by other children and become a recluse to avoid taunts. This will severely impact on the emotional as well as physical wellbeing of your child, which is not something they need when they are battling cancer.

If weight gain in your child becomes a problem, speak to their Doctor or Oncology Team before starting them on a diet or changing their eating habits. Your child’s medical team can help find out the possible cause of the weight gain and discuss how best to manage it.

Weight gain can generally be managed quite successfully via Diet & Physical Activity modifications, as can fluid retention via various methods.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Weight Gain on our static page, Weight Gain in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Thrombocytopenia in Childhood Cancer


Blood_cells_MED_ILL_EN_300Symptom 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.

Thrombocytopenia is a blood disease characterised by an abnormally small number of platelets, also called thrombocytes, in the blood. They stop bleeding by helping the blood to clot and plugging damaged blood vessels.

Thrombocytopenia occurs when the body does not make enough platelets, is losing platelets, or destroys platelets. Thrombocytopenia is common in individuals with cancer, especially in those receiving chemotherapy.

Many things can cause thrombocytopenia in children, most commonly infections (especially viral infections) and destruction of platelets by the immune system (called immune thrombocytopenia or ITP). Children with thrombocytopenia may also have lower numbers of other blood cell types, such as red and white blood cells, depending on the cause.

Symptoms often do not occur until the level of platelets is very low, which is why many individuals do not know they have thrombocytopenia until it is diagnosed during a blood test.

Some types of chemotherapy and some other medications damage the bone marrow, lowering its production of platelets. Thrombocytopenia caused by chemotherapy is usually temporary; in very cases, the chemotherapy may permanently damage some of the bone marrow cells that make platelets.

Individuals with certain types of cancer or those who are undergoing a type of cancer treatment known to cause thrombocytopenia may be given regular blood tests to look for thrombocytopenia and other blood-related complications.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Thrombocytopenia on our static page, Thrombocytopenia in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Taste Changes in Childhood Cancer


taste changes - cardboardSymptom 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.

Some individuals with cancer experience taste changes during or after cancer treatment.  Some of the taste changes you may notice in your child include:

  • The fact that some foods may taste bland to them;
  • They may not be interested in eating because everything they eat tastes the same;
  • Some foods may taste different to what they did before, especially sweet, salty and/or bitter foods;
  • Your child may complain of a or chemical or metallic taste in the mouth, especially after eating meat or other high-protein foods

Taste changes can cause your child to dislike certain foods or refuse to eat, which will lead to weight loss, fatigue, an impaired immune system, and a lack of energy. This is not good as a child needs every ounce of strength they can get to fight the cancer and endure any cancer treatments they may be undergoing.

There are several possible causes of taste changes related to cancer and cancer treatment.  Understanding the cause of your child’s problem may help you and your health care team manage these changes so that your child can eat again.

Changes in taste can make it difficult for your child to eat healthy foods and maintain their weight. If your child does not want to eat because of taste changes, you should speak to their doctor or treatment team, and possibly also a dietician.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Taste Changes on our static page, Taste Changes in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Sleeping Problems: Insomnia in Childhood Cancer


distressed-teenage-girlSymptom 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.

Cancer and Cancer Treatment can cause a variety of sleeping problems such as Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome, Nightmares, and Insomnia.

Other factors that can also cause these sleeping problems include emotional concerns or medical conditions unrelated to cancer.

We will discuss Insomnia in this article – Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares is dealt with on a separate Page.

Insomnia is defined as an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep; chronic sleeplessness. It could cause your child problems during the day such as low energy, fatigue, poor concentration, and irritability. Most people experience insomnia at some point in their lives; the risk of insomnia increases with age and with serious illnesses, such as cancer.

Insomnia often causes other cancer-related conditions and symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or depression or anxiety, to become worse. Insomnia may also decrease your child’s ability to cope with their cancer and cause feelings of isolation.

Someone with insomnia will often take 30 minutes or more to fall asleep and may get six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights a week over a month or more.

There are two types of insomnia:

  • Primary Insomnia: Primary insomnia is when an individual is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary Insomnia: Secondary insomnia is when an individual is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).

The goal for managing insomnia is to achieve restful sleep and improve your child’s overall quality of life. Understanding and treating the underlying cause of your insomnia is the best way to do this. There are many methods of tackling insomnia, including medication and natural remedies.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Insomnia on our static page, Sleeping Problems: Insomnia in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Sleeping Problems: Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares in Childhood Cancer


SLEEPING PROBLEMSSymptom 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.

Cancer and Cancer Treatment can cause a variety of sleeping problems such as Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome, Nightmares, and Insomnia.

Other factors that can also cause these sleeping problems include emotional concerns or medical conditions unrelated to cancer.

We will discuss Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares in this article and will deal with Insomnia on a separate Page.

  • HypersomniaHypersomnia causes one to feel very sleepy during the day or want to sleep for longer than normal at night. Hypersomnia may also be called somnolence, excessive daytime sleepiness, or prolonged drowsiness.
  • Somnolence SyndromeSomnolence syndrome is a type of hypersomnia in Children with Cancer that is specifically associated With Radiation Therapy to the head.
  • NightmaresNightmares are vivid, frightening dreams which normally cause one to wake up and remember part or most of the dream. Most people have nightmares from time to time, but the frequency or vividness of nightmares can increase after a cancer diagnosis and during cancer treatment. Frequent nightmares can lead to a fear of going to sleep, restless sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

Hypersomnia is similar to fatigue, but they are not the same. Fatigue is when one is feeling exhausted and has no energy, and the feeling is not relieved by sleep. Excessive daytime sleeping and being unable to stay awake are not signs of fatigue, but may be signs of Hypersomnia.

An increase in emotional stress is a common cause of nightmares. Because having cancer is frightening and stressful, especially for children, it is normal for them to experience some nightmares during treatment and recovery.

Nightmares may be a way in which the mind works through unresolved feelings and fears.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding  Sleeping Problems on our static page, Sleeping Problems: Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Skin Conditions in Childhood Cancer


Skin Conditions in Childhood CancerSymptom 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.

Most of us already know that certain cancer treatments can, in addition to slowing or stopping the growth of cancer, make a person’s hair fall out, but not everyone knows that cancer treatments can also affect a person’s skin, hair, and nails.

Skin problems from cancer treatment are often not severe may get better over time, while others may not go away. Some individuals struggle to cope with skin conditions cause by cancer treatment because they cause visible changes to the body.

Depending on the cause of the skin condition, it can present in various forms, such as rashes, redness, and other types of skin irritation such as blisters, peeling, or swelling in the area of treatment.

This article will introduce you to the signs and symptoms of skin problems that your child may face when undergoing cancer treatment, causes, how to treat or manage those problems, and will also provide you with some good Tips for Children with a Sensitive Skin.

Wearing loose, soft cotton clothing may also help with your child’s discomfort, and special makeup or concealers can help cover up pimples, rashes, or other skin imperfections and improve the skin’s appearance.

Most of the time, prevention is the best way to manage skin problems.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Skin Conditions on our static page, Skin Conditions in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea) in Childhood Cancer


DyspnoeaSymptom 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.

Dyspnoea is a feeling of breathlessness that can be experienced by many people with advanced cancer or those with earlier-stage cancers who have other conditions that affect the heart or lungs. Distinct sensations include effort/work, chest tightness, and air hunger (the feeling of not enough oxygen).

Dyspnoea is a normal symptom of heavy exertion but becomes pathological if it occurs in unexpected situations. In 85% of cases it is due to asthma, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, interstitial lung disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or psychogenic causes such as panic disorder and anxiety.

An individual with a potentially life-threatening blood clot or other emergency, for example, may experience Dyspnoea. It is important to inform your child’s doctor immediately should your child experience any symptoms of Dyspnoea.

While shortness of breath is generally caused by disorders of the Cardiac or Respiratory system, other systems such as Neurological, Musculoskeletal, Endocrine, Hematologic, and Psychiatric may be the cause.

The most common cardiovascular causes are acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure while common pulmonary causes include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Asthma, Pneumothorax, Pulmonary Oedema and Pneumonia.

Dyspnoea may also be caused by a tumour or by other conditions related to cancer, and many of these causes are treatable.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Dyspnoea on our static page, Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea) in Childhood Cancer

 

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