Did you know that childhood cancer is on the rise? It is the leading cause of death in children after infectious diseases, which means that parents need to be on the lookout, writes NJOKI CHEGE
Little Raphael Okwako is a jovial little boy with bright shiny eyes and an infectious smile. He is very easy to get along with, and very camera friendly. He does not shy away from visitors and more so the camera.
It is probably this bubbly personality and headstrong spirit that has kept him going, for at just 13 months, little Okwako has been fighting with Wilms tumor, also known as cancer of the kidney.
Three months ago, his mother noticed a palpable mass in his abdomen and shortly after that, he started having fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. He was treated for an array of diseases, including malaria and pneumonia, but he wasn’t improving, until his parents decided to get a second opinion.
His mother, Linet Akumu, notes that the results of the second opinion were not good at all, and it has been a long journey ever since.
“After it was established that the mass was cancerous, he had to undergo an operation to remove the mass, which cost us Sh300,000. The next step was seven weeks of chemotherapy, which cost us Sh400 per session,” she says.
So far, the family cannot give an exact figure of how much they have spent, but nothing can be compared to the life of their dear child.
It’s the same script, but different players in the Wamache’s family.
We find 14-year-old Wilberforce Wamache sound asleep in his bed at the Texas Cancer Center ward in Hurligham, Nairobi. From his parents, we learn that Wilberforce loves to play football and drive his father’s car. At 14 years, Wilberforce is fighting Sarcoma, also known as cancer of the bone. He is currently on the fifth dose of the second line of chemotherapy.
As his mother, Praxides Wamache narrates, it all began in July 2010 when he fell off his bicycle and hurt his knee.
“A few weeks later, in August of 2010, he started complaining of pain in his knee and we took him to hospital in Kakamega. An x-ray revealed a fracture and the leg was plastered. The plaster made everything worse,” she says.