NEWS

Children Cancer Deaths In Fiji Drop Last Year

Parents of childhood cancer survivors have also urged the public to take their children to the hospital if they are sick, as early detection saves lives.
16 Feb 2022 11:55
Children Cancer Deaths In Fiji Drop Last Year
Safe in their mother’s arms cancer survivers Elijah Moriah 1 and Eceli Hadassah 5 with their mum, Vakaloloma Sugu and Peau Susu during International Childhood cancer day on February 15, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

 

The mortality rate of children diagnosed with cancer has dropped with 13 deaths recorded last year compared to 25 in 2020.

This was highlighted by WOWS Kids Fiji co-founder Sina Kami at the International Childhood Cancer Day event at Tanoa Plaza Hotel in Suva yesterday. She said a total of 59 children had lost their lives due to cancer in the past three years with one death recorded so far this year.

“There were 21 deaths recorded in 2019, 25 deaths in 2020, and 13 deaths recorded in 2021,” she said.

She said the day was marked to highlight the importance of community participation and support in the fight against childhood cancer in every country.

Ms Kami urged parents to take their children to the hospital if they notice any symptoms. She also highlighted that the organisation took care of 74 children diagnosed with cancer.

“45 children are in the central, northern and eastern divisions, while 29 are in the western division,” she said.

Colonial War Memorial Hospital Paediatric Registrar, Savenaca Seduadua, said Fiji diagnosed 20-30 childhood cancer cases per year. He said: “Cancers treated locally include leukemia, Lymphomas and certain eye, kidney and brain tumours. The treatment involves either chemotherapy or surgery or a combination of both.”

 

Parents’ plea

Parents of childhood cancer survivors have also urged the public to take their children to the hospital if they are sick, as early detection saves lives.

Jolame Tadulala, 53, came to celebrate the life of his child, Filipe Baleitavuki, 10, who was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma when he was a year old. He shared how it felt as father knowing his child was diagnosed with a killer illness.

“We noticed that one of his eyes looked bigger than the other one, that is when I suspected that something was wrong with his eye,” Mr Tadulala said.

“We took him to the hospital and upon checking, they told us that his eye had cancer cells. I was really scared, I felt helpless, I felt sorry for my boy, and I thought he would die.”

Mr Tadulala said they lost all hope after being told that his son’s eye had to be removed before it was too late.

“I wanted to help my child but I was helpless. The doctors said if they won’t remove his eye, my son will die,” he said.

Another parent, Vakaloloma Sugu, spoke about how her child was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma when he was born.

“I was really scared about losing him but I had faith that doctors will save my child,” she said.

Despite struggling financially, the parents of one-year-old Elijah Moriah had hope.

“My husband is a carpenter and only did private jobs during COVID,” she said.

“WOWS Fiji was very helpful, they were always there to provide us with transportation, food items, medicines and baby products. I am grateful to them.”

Peau Susu, 26, was another parent who came to celebrate the life of her daughter, Eceli Susu, 5, all the way from Tailevu.

She said her child was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis last year but she had swollen shoulders since 2019.

“The doctors told me they have to do a biopsy, but I was scared because my child was very young. I rejected the option of biopsy and then came back to the hospital  in 2020 because I wanted her to get better as I could not see her in pain,” she said.

“She now runs around the house and plays with friends, something she had never done in two years. I really regretted not allowing a biopsy in 2019 because if I would have approved it, she would have been well by now.”



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