Joseph, aged 7, Cameroon

“I never heard of cancer in a child” – Joseph’s mother Nancy

Nancy is a young mother whose son Joseph has just turned seven.

Nancy first noticed that her son was not well at the beginning of July 2019 when Joseph started coughing continuously. This went on for two weeks. They bought him some medicine from the local store and tried some home remedies for cough, which helped to reduce the coughing but didn’t stop it completely.

Nancy also noticed Joseph’s tummy was increasing in size. Nancy’s parents told her that it should be managed with traditional medicine, but Nancy wasn’t convinced. She then took him to the Baptist Health Centre in Kumba where upon an ultrasound scan, the doctor told her that they had seen some nodules in Joseph’s abdomen which might be suggestive of cancer.

World Child Cancer patient boy from Cameroon
Joseph's first symptoms were a continuous cough and swollen tummy

They were referred to another hospital where a bone marrow biopsy was collected. A blood transfusion followed and Joseph was referred to Mbingo Baptist Hospital, which is supported by World Child Cancer.

"The nurse took us to the bus station and paid for our tickets to come to Mbingo" - Nancy

She continued, “when the doctor told me that Joseph has leukaemia I felt bad but I had courage because the doctor told me he could be treated. There are other children with cancer in this hospital who are also getting treatment, but I am still worried because Joseph’s cancer [Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia] is a different type to theirs.”

"The treatment might work but it is also possible that it doesn’t – we might lose him any time but I am trying to have courage.

“I couldn’t believe that my son had cancer because I thought cancer only affects adults, I never heard of cancer in a child.”

Their stay at Mbingo Baptist Hospital lasted nine months, 400km away from the rest of their family. Support from World Child Cancer meant Joseph’s treatment was entirely free of charge and Nancy also received daily portions of food items from the hospital and education on the nutrients that Joseph needs to help him withstand treatment and recover quickly.

Being given a bed in the ‘We Care’ parent home meant a comfortable place to stay. In fact, they were so comfortable that Joseph was not too eager to return home, he knew that he was sick and needed to stay close to the hospital to get his treatment.

World Child Cancer patient boy from Cameroon
With just two months left of treatment, Joseph is back at school

Joseph’s treatment is for a total of two years. After completing the induction and intensive phases of his treatment he was referred to a hospital close to his hometown, where he received follow-up treatment and has been going to the hospital every month for evaluation and refill of medications. Now, with barely two months left of his treatment, Joseph is healthy and has been able to return to school.

As one of the first patients to be enrolled on the treatment protocol for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) of the Cameroon Paediatric Oncology Group, Joseph is leading the way for many others.

This is a protocol based on locally available drugs in a combination that can be safely managed. The children with leukaemia who will be treated within this protocol will receive free chemotherapy and supportive care drugs, including antibiotics. In addition, they will receive support for transportation, food and accommodation while in the hospital.

Could you help children like Joseph can access the treatment and care they need? Click here to donate.

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Read more about our catch-up with Rebecca in July 2021 after undergoing cancer treatment through World Child Cancer in Ghana five years ago.

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Five years after developing cancer and two years of treatment later, six-year-old Tiwo is doing well

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Hassan’s story

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Franklyn’s Story

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Rebecca is now able to return to school after undergoing cancer treatment through World Child Cancer in Ghana

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