‘You don’t need to be a doctor to help save a life’

2020-02-12 06:04

INTERNATIONAL Childhood Cancer Day, commemorated on February 15, aims to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors and their families.

To encourage residents to unite and fight against the stigma attached to cancer, Greytown resident Nabeelah Nabee from Cupcakes of Hope appealed to the community to support the International Childhood Cancer Day fundraiser that will be held at Aheers Supermarket this Saturday, February 15.

“It’s quite easy to save a life and it only takes a little bit of your time. You don’t have to be a paramedic or a doctor, you can buy a cupcake to support a community fundraiser driven to aid children fighting cancer nationwide,” she said.

About 300 000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year.

“Childhood cancer is cancer in a child up to the age of 14 years old. The average age of children diagnosed is six. More than 40 000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year,” she said.

According to the South African Cancer Association, between 800 to 1 000 children in the country are diagnosed with cancer each year.

CANSA said stigma, myths and a lack of knowledge about the disease are the main contributing factors leading to the spread of cancer.

“In 2016, ambient and household air pollution caused 543 000 deaths in children under five and 52 000 deaths in children aged between five and 15 years old.

“A child who is exposed to unsafe levels of pollution can face a lifetime of health impacts.

“Exposure in the womb or in early childhood can lead to stunted lung growth, impaired mental and motor development, low birth weight, childhood cancers, and increased risk of heart diseases and strokes in adulthood,” Nabee said.

Other risk factors include genetics, exposure to infections, certain medical conditions, environmental factors, stress, and problems with development in the womb.

“Today the overall five-year survival rate for childhood cancer is close to 80%. Not all childhood cancers are known to have such successful survival rates. Unfortunately, many types of childhood cancers continue to have a poor five-year prognosis.

“Let’s work together and fight cancer, spread awareness and save lives.

“Together we can support the fighters, admire the survivors, honour the taken and never give up,” she added.

EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF CHILDHOOD­ CANCER INCLUDE:

• Recurring fevers

• Sudden vision change

• Weight loss and loss of appetite

• Excessive bleeding, bruising and rashes

• Lump(s) on the neck, chest, stomach, groin, limbs, or armpits

• Bone joints that are painful and swollen

• Headaches and early morning vomiting

• Abnormally large head

• Loss of balance when walking.

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