Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Burkitt's patients

Rochelle is super sweet. We gave her pen and paper to draw with and she started drawing ships.
Maddie, 2, is extremely sassy. She refuses to smile whenever the "Yovo's" (white people) are around but today, for a moment, she actually smiled. I was able to catch the moment as well as her mom's shock that she smiled.

Today, Maddie was giving our translator a hard time when he attempted to be her friend. After five minutes of attempting to befriend her, he picked her up. Maddie then proceeded to pee all over him and I am certain it was intentional. She's that smart and has the much attitude. At the age of 2.
Luc's mother. It's difficult for parents to watch their children battle cancer wherever you come from.
Luc and his mother sit on their hospital bed.
Luc is 3-years-old, snuggly, and sweet. He has a fetish with sunglasses and three pairs on his head throughout our visit. He has a crush on Suey. Today she was standing outside the room door, talking to some nurses, and he kept coming out of the room to give her hugs and kisses.
It doesn't get much better then that.
Burkitt's lymphoma is an aggressive form of cancer, responsible for 50% of cancer deaths in children in Uganda and Central Africa. It is characterized by an enlarged jaw, loose teeth, and protruding eyeballs. Symptoms develop very quickly. A healthy child can be have an large tumor within four to six weeks of the initial symptoms.

Last year I cared for Sadie, a Burkitt's patient who died within six weeks of displaying symptoms. I'll never forget looking at his small flip-flops carefully placed at the end of his ICU bed, as I took care of him during his last days on earth. It was hard. It's always hard to watch a child die.

But the saddest part is that Burkitt's is 70% curable when timely medical interventions are taken (aka you give the patient a series of 6 doses of chemotherapy) and the remission rate is 80%.

But in West Africa, chemotherapy most often isn't available. If it is, it's often unaffordable or given ineffectively.

The Mercy Ships palliative care program has several Burkitt's patients they are helping receive chemotherapy. Three of them, all children, are currently staying at a local hospital, receiving their chemotherapy. I was able to visit them Monday and today.

Originally it was a group of four but sadly, one of the children died last week. Thankfully, the other three are responding positively to the chemo treatments, and look like they will have a positive outcome.

The three kids are Maddie, Luc, and Rochelle. Please keep them in your prayers.

Check out my dear friend Suey's blog (she works in palliative care) to learn more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

meg, i love you and admire you. that's all. xoxoxoxoo julie