Over 60% of children with cancer seek help late

WITH over 60% of children suffering from cancer seeking help when it’s too late, parents and guardians have been implored to take a more proactive approach when it comes to their children’s health and well-being.

Ms. Sikhanyisiwe Bloomton of Nkayi never imagined her six-year-old son would be diagnosed with cancer when he started vomiting every morning and complaining of pain in his abdomen.

“My son was vomiting every day. This started last year in December. So, this year in January he woke up and said ‘Mummy, I can’t go to school’, he is in ECD B. ‘I am sick. I have pain in my private parts.’ So, I took him to a clinic where they gave me some painkillers. He got better, but then three weeks later, he started complaining of pain again in his abdomen and his testicles were getting swollen. That’s when we were referred to Mpilo Hospital and the doctors told me my child had a tumour and was then referred to Parirenyatwa where he was diagnosed with testicular cancer,” said Ms Bloomton.

“At first, when I heard that it was a tumour, I wasn’t bothered because I thought they would just remove it, but when I got to Parirenyatwa and they explained to me the process, I got worried because I thought my child would die. I would cry every day and plead with God to save my child,” said Ms Bloomton.

After going through 23 cycles of chemotherapy, the young boy has greatly improved.

Ms Blommton said, “Ever since he started treatment, everything has now changed. He was no longer walking or eating but now he is eating and even his skin is now glowing.”

The young boy is not alone, as many other children are suffering from different types of cancer.

Another affected mother who went through the same predicament, Ms Chiedza Chinoda narrated her experience.

“This started last year when she was in Grade 2 when she started complaining about pain in her legs. I took her to the clinic, and she was given painkillers. I then took her to Murambinda Hospital where some tests were done. That’s when they suspected cancer and I was referred to Gomo. From there, I was referred to Parirenyatwa Hospital, where she was diagnosed with cancer and she was put on cancer treatment.”

“She was put on chemotherapy, and by then, she could no longer walk but as you can see now, she is walking and can even run. I can see great improvement,” she said.

KidzCan executive director, Mr Daniel Mckenzie, whose organisation is assisting children who are getting treatment at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare as well as offering accommodation at the organisation’s Rainbow Children’s Home is appealing to parents and guardians to revisit their health-seeking behaviour.

“The challenge throughout the world and especially Zimbabwe is that our communities, our parents do not know that children get cancer and yet if detected and treated early they all should survive, and they all can survive. In every awareness campaign that we are involved in, you find out that the first question people ask you is, do children get cancer? So that just shows that children get cancer.

“The children are also presenting late, almost 60% and, in most cases, they are seeking alternative treatment, or they don’t know what the disease is and they only present late when that disease is at an advanced stage and the child is in pain,” said Mr Mckenzie.

The most common childhood cancers in Zimbabwe are leukaemia also known as cancer of the blood, Retina Blastoma cancer of the eye and cancer of the kidney. – ZBC News

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