Durbanville - Mothers of children who lost their battle with cancer will be pampered at a special event specially designed for them in Durbanville on Saturday.
Last year, 52 children lost their lives at Tygerberg Hospital following tiring battles with the disease.
This pampering session will be hosted by Cansa Tough Living with Cancer(TLC), Rachel’s Wishes and Beating Heart South Africa to help the parents deal with the loss of their loved ones.
Cansa TLC Western Cape co-ordinator Anthea-Lynn Lewis said the event is about remembering and celebrating the memory.
“My motto is to celebrate each day, embrace life but more importantly embrace the giver of life. We would like to let mothers know that we have not forgotten about them,” said Lewis, who works with the children at Tygerberg Hospital ward G3 from the start of their diagnosis until they go into remission or lose their battle.
“It changes your life forever, the resilience and their outlook on life has changed me. One should treat those suffering from cancer as normal as possible, although the outer change, the inner remain the same. My message to them is to never lose hope and take it day by day,” she added.
Professor Alan Davidson, head of Hematology-Oncology at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital said childhood cancers are different from adult cancers.
“The most important obstacle to detection is that childhood cancer is very rare. For every 1 million children under 15, only 100-150 will get cancer each year. That’s less than any common adult cancer on its own,” he said.
Davidson said there is a different spectrum of cancers consisting of brain tumours (25%), acute leukaemia (30%), and deep-seated tumours arising from primitive cells in deep-seated organs such as liver, kidney and adrenal gland. This makes them hard to detect.
“They are fast-growing – which does mean that they are usually more sensitive to chemotherapy,” he said.
He recommends parents should look out for the following symptoms:
• The white spot in the eye, new squint, blindness or a bulging eyeball.
• Lumps in the abdomen/pelvis, head and neck, in limbs, testes or lymph glands.
• Pallor and easy bruising or bleeding.
• Aching bones, joint pains, backache, and easy fractures.
• Neurological signs: Change or deterioration in walk, balance, or speech; Regression of Developmental Milestones
• Headache for more than two weeks with or without vomiting; enlarging head.
• Unexplained prolonged fever over 2 weeks, loss of weight and fatigue can also be signs of cancer but there are other diseases like TB and HIV that need to be excluded first.
“The warning signs of cancer can be mistaken for common childhood ailments. We would advise parents to take their child to a physician or a qualified healthcare provider for further consultation if any of these symptoms persist, and we try hard to educate doctors and nurses about these warning signs to improve early detection,” he added.