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

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Archive for February, 2019


Nineteen years ago, a little girl was involved in a terrible traffic accident in Kumbo. She lost her mother and younger brother in it. She was brought to Banso Baptist Hospital having sustained fractures of both femurs. Her name was Nina and she was 8 years old.

She remembers me working on Children’s ward, and the bandana I sported about my head at that time. She remembers I brought her presents, and that I gave her a Certificate of Bravery. This award also came with a small badge, stating ‘I was very brave for the doctor’. So the Certificate could be stuck to the bed head, and the badge on the pyjama top. This was an idea of mine designed to produce dignity and pride in our child patients. So popular was it, that adult staff from all hospital departments came to me saying that they had been brave for the doctor today, and could they please have a Certificate!

Sad to say, I don’t actually remember Nina – one of hundreds of kids I saw in my years visiting BBH. Quite recently, out of the blue, Nina got in touch with me. She is now 28, and married with a small daughter, and she is a doctor working at Mbingo Hospital. What a tremendous sequel to a traumatic childhood! She said that during her time in BBH she became inspired to be a doctor herself.

One day Dr Nina plans to visit me in Warkton. I will have to dig out an old bandana for the occasion!

Nina, age 8, being treated in Banso hospital

Nina, age 8, being treated in Banso hospital

Nina at Mbingo Hospital, where she is now a doctor

Peter McCormick, Feb. 2019

BTMAT launch new cancer treatment programme in Douala

Some readers may be aware of the political unrest in Cameroon which amounts to civil war in the North West. The anglophone secessionists have imposed “ghost Mondays” in which all public transport by taxi or motorbike is blocked by armed men.

This is severely curtailing our work at Banso Baptist Hospital in the far north-west, but new admissions at our main centre, Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH), remain high. On my recent visit to Mbingo I found our new eight-bed paediatric oncology ward fully occupied, as were the eight beds in the We Care hostel to which patient and guardian may go between chemotherapies. The system is working efficiently and at full capacity thanks to the dedication of paediatric oncology supervisor Dr Francine Kouya and our superb nursing team at Mbingo Baptist Hospital.

Sister Comfort Kimbi and the new paediatric oncology ward at MBH. This photo does not show the nursing station, isolation room, treatment room and counselling room - all purpose-designed

Sister Comfort Kimbi and the new paediatric oncology ward at MBH. This photo does not show the nursing station, isolation room, treatment room and counselling room – all purpose-designed

In part to compensate for the loss of activity in the far north-west we have launched a new cancer treatment programme at Mboppi Baptist Hospital in Douala, Cameroon’s most populous city. It is in the francophone south and not directly affected by political unrest. Children with cancer at this hospital were previously referred to one of our other centres, west to Mutengene or north to Mbingo. Two weeks ago an inaugural symposium with teaching by colleagues from Leeds General Infirmary childrens cancer treatment unit was eagerly attended by doctors and staff from Mboppi.

We will begin slowly and carefully treating children with Burkitt’s lymphoma and retinoblastoma only, but this busy hospital is likely to become our main centre of treatment in the South. BTMAT will fund treatment of children on the same basis as at the other Baptist hospitals – covering drug costs and individual hospital bills. This ensures that any mother reaching the hospital with a child with cancer will not be deterred by the prospect of a bill (even though very small by our standards) – but it does mean that our BTMAT trustees are facing the financial challenge of an enlarging programme.

With your help we will rise to the challenge!

Dr Paul Wharin, Feb. 2019