CHOC calls on Bay to paint city blue

2018-02-14 06:00

AS a means of raising awareness of childhood cancer and to express support for children with cancer, survivors and their families, the Port Elizabeth branch of CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA is calling on all Bay residents to paint the city blue on International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) tomorrow.

According to Anne-Marie Stephenson, fund­raising manger of CHOC Eastern Cape, in South Africa an estimated 70 to 80 children per million are diagnosed with cancer every year. A further estimated 500 children die of childhood cancer each year without being diagnosed or treated.

“The sad reality is that childhood cancers are sometimes overlooked or misdiagnosed because early symptoms are mistakenly attributed to more common injuries or illnesses,” Stephenson said.

“However, if diagnosed early and treated by a paediatric oncologist, the survival rate can be 80%.”

She said that a lack of community awareness, including access to medical facilities due to finances and distance, are also a huge challenge.

“General practitioners don’t often see to some cases due to a shortage of health facilities.

“The cost of transport and time to travel makes it difficult for parents to have their children assessed and, so, more often than not they are sick for a long time before urgency forces them to make the sacrifice of expensive travel to the nearby health care facilities.”

In support of ICCD, residents can join CHOC in wearing blue with the “have a heart for children with cancer” ICCD badge or heart pin tomorrow.

The ICCD badges and heart-shaped chocolates will be on sale from the PE CHOC office for R10 each, while the heart pins are priced at R20.

CHOC currently supports 50 children with cancer who are receiving regular treatment at the hospital – 40 of whom are active chemotherapy patients and 10 to 15 are seriously ill and admitted to the ward.

Early warning signs of childhood cancer include:

  • Lumps: It can be in the abdomen, pelvis, head, neck, limbs, testes and glands. Every lump must be referred. A TB lump should go away after two weeks of treatment, if not, seek help.
  • Unexplained fever for more than two weeks. Unexplained loss of weight, appetite, fatigue and easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Bone pain: Aching bones, joints, back and easy fractures. A child should never get backache. Such aches are usually associated with leukemia. Aching bones and joints indicates cancer of the bone.
  • Neurological: Regression of milestones. Change or deterioration in walk or balance or speech (slurred speech). Headache for more than a week, with or without vomiting. Enlarging head.
  • Eye: White spot in the eye can be a cancer of the eye.

A new squint or new blindness can be a cancer of the brain.

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