Five years ago, Jean’s four year old daughter McKenna was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumour, a solid cancerous mass found in one or both kidneys, usually affecting children between the ages of one and five.
Being an unemployed widow, Jean felt desperate and alone. She did not have time to go outside the country’s borders to seek employment as she had to stay close and take care of her daughter. Getting a job in the country was also a challenge with the high unemployment rate which got worse as companies continued to cut down production or shut down altogether.
Then she heard about Kidzcan from Dr Mapanamunda at Parirenyatwa Hospital. He advised her to meet with Kidzcan to find out what support they can provide.
Jean is an example of many parents who find themselves ‘trapped’ after their children are diagnosed with cancer. Besides having to carry the grief and burden of caring for a child with cancer, many parents find themselves also worrying about hospital fees and other related costs. However, Kidzcan chips in to provide financial and emotional support for both the children and their parents.
Kidzcan’s Andrea Whatman says that last year alone the organisation assisted 443 children. Of these, 152 underwent and received support for various laboratory tests, 203 children received chemotherapy and related medication while 168 children underwent and received support for various diagnostic tests. 71 children were supported with multiple blood and blood products while a total of 107 children received transport assistance to return to the A4 ward at Parirenyatwa Hospital for their chemotherapy treatments and other required follow up tests.
Kidzcan Children’s Cancer Relief is a private voluntary organisation committed to increasing the survival rate of children diagnosed with cancer. They mostly work with Parirenyatwa Hospital’s A4 Special Ward, which is the dedicated pediatric oncology ward.
Dennis Anderson from Kidzcan explains, “We whole-heartedly believe that every child suffering with cancer deserves the right to the fight for survival.” He said the organisation seeks to come alongside families to lessen their burden.
“We have chosen to expand our focus to provide financial support to families in the form of funding diagnostic testing, including MRIs, X-rays and CT scans that are required by the doctors to make accurate and timely diagnoses and follow ups,” says Anderson. He added that they are also helping families with sourcing and paying for chemotherapy drugs and associated medications, providing blood products and donating high protein food supplements for those children in particular need.
In addition to financial assistance Kidzcan hosts weekly parent support meetings to help parents cope with the immense crisis they are going through. “Providing families with the means and tools to fight their child’s cancer is absolutely necessary, but actually it is hope that we want to foster, and ultimately make a reality for these parents,” explains Anderson.
This Saturday, 15 February, Kidzcan joins the rest of the world in remembering children suffering from cancer on World Child Cancer Day, widely known as the Orange Day. It will be raising awareness on childhood cancer and the importance of early detection in saving the lives of children with cancer.
Kidzcan is located in the Island Hospice building at 6 Natal Road Belgravia off Second Street. For more information email [email protected], visit www.kidzcanzimbabwe.org or phone 0773 600 310.