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).
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.
A diagnosis of cancer and subsequent treatment can result in irregular food and fluid intake, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies. There is frequently an increased need for calories and protein while there is usually a decreased appetite.
Chemotherapy, for example, works by killing or disabling cancer cells. Unfortunately, this targets not only the tumour, but some healthy tissues as well, including the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
While some of these drugs produce only mild side effects, others can pack a wallop. The effects of radiation therapy can be similar to those of chemotherapy, but these are usually related to the part of the body that is being treated. This means that radiation to the head, neck, chest, and abdomen can result in a lot of GI distress.
Side Effects That Cancer Patients Experience
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Open, sore areas in the mouth and/or throat
- Loss or change of taste perception
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Decreased appetite
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Feeling of fullness after eating or drinking very small portions
According to most doctors and nutritionists, eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily is considered sufficient for good health, but a recent study, reported in the International Journal of Epidemiology, posits that the greatest benefits come from eating 10 portions a day.
An analysis of 95 studies assessing the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption have led researchers to believe that eating 800 grams (around 10 portions of 80 grams) of fruits and vegetables daily was associated with the lowest risk of disease and premature death.
One portion of fruits of vegetables was defined as 80 grams – the equivalent to a small banana, pear, or apple, or three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, or cauliflower.
The study, undertaken by Lead author Dr. Dagfinn Aune, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues, took into consideration 95 studies that involved almost 2 million participants and around 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and 94,000 deaths.
“What good does it do to treat people and send them back to the conditions that made them sick?”
This is the question Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, said he asks himself repeatedly, during a speech he recently gave at Wits University regarding why health is not simply a matter of access to medical care.
Sir Michael is an expert in health and inequality, and says that as societies around the world become more unequal, the gap between levels of health widens.
“Social injustice is the biggest threat to global health and a radical change in society is needed if we really want people to live long healthy lives,” he added
The Professor, who has conducted research on health inequalities in communities across the world, compared a boy growing up in the affluent suburb of Greater Roland Park in Baltimore, United States to one growing up in the Upton Druid Heights neighbourhood in Baltimore’s inner city.
Even though they grew up a mere few kilometres apart, according to Marmot the boy from Roland Park can expect to live to the age of 83 whereas the one living in the inner city, will likely die 20 years earlier at the age of 63.
According 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.
A comprehensive initiative called Global HOPE (Haematology-Oncology Paediatric Excellence) has recently been launched in public-private partnerships between American institutions and the governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi.
The $100m Paediatric Haematology-Oncology treatment network has been created in order to build long-term capacity to treat and dramatically improve the prognosis of thousands of children with cancer and blood disorders in southern and eastern Africa.
There are currently only 5 paediatric oncologists in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda combined, which is totally inadequate to deal with the scourge of Childhood Cancer.
“We believe in these countries there are more than 11,000 new cases annually of paediatric cancer and 40,000 new cases of serious, life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and haemophilia. Because of these staggering numbers, more healthcare providers with special expertise are urgently needed,” said David G. Poplack, M.D., director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Global HOPE will help build capacity in the region to diagnose and care for children with blood disorders and cancer, offering the potential for transformational change in survivorship for these children.”
In developing countries, including the United States, approximately 80% of Children with Cancer survive; unfortunately this figure dips markedly in developing countries including in sub-Saharan Africa.
The mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 90% across Africa, mainly due to an inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and a lack of physicians and other healthcare workers with specific training to treat children with cancer.
The most common Childhood Cancers are blood-related, including leukaemia and lymphoma.
Children 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.
Guess what? It is Foodie Friday again and today we decided to share some scrumptious recipes for baked goodies with you. I mean, which child does not love cake and cookies?
Children with cancer often do not have an appetite due to the cancer or the treatments, so getting them to eat anything is difficult. Here are some recipes for cakes and cookies which both you and your child can enjoy, and letting them help you bake is a great way to keep them entertained and is also a wonderful bonding exercise.
What is even better is that you could also use these recipes to either create an additional income for your family, which most households with a child with cancer need, or as a means of fundraising for your favourite Childhood Cancer Charity, the Little Fighters Cancer Trust 😉
Cancers 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).
Nutrition is an important part of the health of all children, but it is especially important for Children with Cancer, who often have poor appetites as a result of the cancer itself, or due to the side-effects of the cancer treatments.
Both cancer and its treatments may affect a child’s appetite, tolerance to foods, and their body’s ability to use nutrients. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help a child feel better and stay stronger.
For parents of Children with Cancer, the challenges of enticing children to eat nutritious, healthy foods are even greater than those faced by parents of healthy children, and require untold levels of patience and creativity to overcome.
Cancer and cancer treatments can also affect the way your child’s body tolerates certain foods and its ability to process, store and appropriately use nutrients at a time when your child’s body needs the energy and nutrients from a healthy diet more than ever.
The nutrient needs of Children with Cancer vary from child to child. Your child’s doctor, nurses, and a registered dietitian can help identify nutrition goals and plan ways to help your child meet them.
Every year on 4th February, a truly global event takes place ~ World Cancer Day unites the global population in the fight against cancer in an attempt to prevent millions of deaths each year by raising Awareness and Education about the disease, urging governments and individuals across the world to take action.
Despite recent scientific progress in finding treatments and improving patients’ care, 8.2 million people still die each year from cancer, nearly 50% of them between the age of 30 and 69. This figure is expected to rise to 11.5 million by 2025 and 13 million by 2030.
Low- and middle-income countries are more affected than high income countries – two thirds of global cancer deaths occur in these places – and this trend is predicted to continue in the next decade.
One of the ways to reduce mortality rates is to improve early diagnosis strategies. This is the message that the World Health Organization, working closely with World Cancer Day’ organisers, wants to put forward.