On 15th September, the Women in Action cancer support group in Zambia organised a special event for patients of the Paediatrics Ward at the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) in UTH, Zambia, to mark cancer awareness month and to support and spread awareness to the children’s caregivers.
It was a day of great joy and entertainment, but also a serious one for those who are going through such difficult times during their treatment, adaptation and recovery, not only for patients but also for their parents and guardians. We were honoured by the presence of Dr Sambo, Head of Paediatrics at CDH, who has always supported the work of WiA’s Cancer Support Group at the hospital.
The programme started with a prayer and an address to the caregivers reminding them that although the diagnosis of cancer was difficult to accept, especially in children, once they were faithful to the treatment and followed all the recommendations from the doctors, along with their faith in the Word of God, they would be able to help the children to deal with the process and assist them.
Often the symptoms and signs were evident, but went unnoticed due to under- diagnosis, especially in the rural areas of the country, where clinics are limited.
Despite the availability of dedicated pediatric oncology treatment, treatment completion rates are poor, partly because of the logistical challenges faced by families, their low educational status and significant distances from the hospital.
Among 162 children treated at UTH in Zambia during the study time period, only 8.0% completed a treatment regimen, with most of the patients dying during treatment or abandoning care.
During the second part of the day we presented a drama performed by members of Godllywood. The topic focused on hygiene and care of children with cancer and the necessary areas of attention which needed to be given to children. The drama was very interactive with children and parents participating to learn more about the care they are supposed to be given and how important it was for their response to treatment and recovery. There was lots of fun with music, dance, puppets, balloons, sweets, snacks and a delicious cake reminding them to always be AWARE!
It was a very special day to be remembered for a long time to come and will surely make a difference in their lives!