Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust: supporting African children that suffer from Burkitt lymphoma cancer

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Archive for January, 2016

A new purpose built Parent Home at Mbingo Baptist Hospital

We now have permission to proceed with the building of a hostel for mothers of children with cancer treated under our programme. The plans have been approved and costed. Land was given in 2015 by the hospital board and foundations will be laid in January 2016.

At present the mother of a child receiving chemotherapy must camp out in the hospital grounds (for 2 to 4+ weeks)!  This building will make a great difference, even reducing our bed occupancy costs – because a child who is well between chemotherapies will be able to leave the ward and join mother in the parent home. The design includes 4 en suite rooms which will be rented out to Cameroon Baptist Convention visitors and staff. The income (with only partial occupancy of the guest side) will easily cover the salary of a housekeeper. The intention is to make this part of our programme self-supporting.

Land donated for the Parent Home. Prof Hesseling in the distance

Land donated for the Parent Home. Prof Hesseling in the distance

Paul Wharin   Jan. 2016

Clinical work at Banso Baptist Hospital

Our childrens cancer treatment service was pioneered at Banso Baptist Hospital by Dr Peter McCormick and Prof Peter Hesseling.

In terms of infrastructure our programme is best developed at this hospital with a dedicated childrens cancer ward, a drug-mixing room and a childrens playroom.

Playroom at Banso Baptist Hospital

Playroom at Banso Baptist Hospital

On a round of the childrens cancer (Burkitt) ward at Banso on November 23rd I found just 3 in-patients. One of these, a boy aged 7 years had a severe inflammation of his mouth and gullet (mucositis) caused by intravenous methotrexate given in the treatment of advanced Burkitt’s lymphoma. He had almost certainly vomited (in the night) the folinic acid tablets given to prevent this toxic effect. The extreme soreness of mouth and gullet in this condition merits the use of morphine. We strive to avoid such toxic effects of our chemotherapy drugs.

In 2014 I attended a childrens cancer (SIOP) conference in Tanzania. A Nigerian doctor presented (very honestly) a series of 80 patients treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma with a rate of toxic effects nearing 10% of patients treated. We have treated approximately 1000 children with Burkitt’s lymphoma with far fewer drug-related toxic effects. We analyse every case in retrospect so as to improve our performance. It is a reminder that all our chemotherapy drugs are dangerous: if we give too high a dose we may kill the child. Our doctors and nurses adhere to a strict protocol designed to avoid such toxic effects. The boy mentioned above made a full recovery in time for his 5th bolus of chemotherapy – which did not include methotrexate!

Paul Wharin Jan. 2016