Kidzcan Children's Cancer Relief

KidzCan Vision: A compassionate world where children with cancer are given the chance to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Kidzcan Mission: KidzCan is dedicated to increasing the survival rate of children with cancer in a loving and caring environment. Strategic Objectives: To provide a supportive and caring environment for children with cancer and their families. To improve early detection and effective treatment for children with cancer.
Sep 10, 2013

Hello from Andrea Whatman

Hello from Andrea Whatman,

It is such a privilege to be part of all that Kidzcan is, and I am personally blown away by the doctors and medical staff I work with, the people I have met through the work, and, always, the patients. The success of the third year of our Education and Outreach Programme highlighting early detection of childhood cancers has resulted in an increase in the number of new patients we are providing services. Since January of this year, 220 NEW patients have been diagnosed and treated. That is in addition to the patients we continue to provide assistance to in the form of drugs, transport, follow-up testing, and blood products, who had been diagnosed in previous years. And, we can confidently say that this increase is attributable to the workshops we have been carrying out.

This year alone, Kidzcan has held 23 workshops in 14 locations throughout Zimbabwe. We have reached more than 1,000 participants - both within the formal medical sector through hospitals, and in the traditional medical practitioner community. This education programme has accessed widespread areas of Zimababwe. More places have been reached, and as such, more people now know what to look for and where to send the children. They also know the services Kidzcan can offer patients who need the assistance, and can let families know there is help out there for them.

As a result, Kidzcan is able to offer real hope to children that previously might not have been diagnosed, or had been diagnosed, but given no treatment because it was out of reach for the family financially. This is wonderful and ground breaking. It is ensuring diagnosis and treatment for children with cancer in Zimbabwe.

It also means we need to put more effort in to ensure we can meet the needs of these patients. Along with the increased number of patients who reach Parirenyatwa Hospital for diagnosis and treatment, comes extra pressure on the ward - both in terms of actual beds available and demands on staff. This also impacts on Kidzcan’s demands - resulting in increased costs to provide more diagnostic tests, lab tests and the life-saving drugs to patients. We are meeting those demands, but are feeling the stretch.

It is because of donors like you that we are able to grow in order to provide the services to an increased number of patients as they present themselves. With the programme extending to the Matebeleland area by the end of the year, we will expect to see a further increase of newly registered children with cancer come onto the ward. An increase of newly diagnosed patients is what we are seeking. It is why we formed Kidzcan. We cannot, and will not, put the genie back into his bottle. God has made a way for Kidzcan for many years in an environment that was not conducive to thriving. If we could do it under those circumstances, we can continue to do it in the face of increased demand. Kidzcan is the sum-total of many generous hearts and the personal sacrifice of individuals - not only financially, but also, the most precious of commodities - time.

Don’t ever underestimate your specific and individual support, whether it be prayer, encouragement, donations-in-kind, or finances. We simply could not do anything without your input. Hold Kidzcan close in your prayers and hearts, and know that we remain totally committed to children surviving childhood cancer here in Zimbabwe.

Sincerely, Andrea Whatman, Executive Director

Jun 10, 2013

Kidzcan's Making an Impact

This year has been one of tremendous growth for Kidzcan. In 2012, Kidzcan provided assistance to 415 children.  It is only the beginning of June, and we have already reached more than 580 children! Many of the newly diagnosed children arriving to Paririenyatwa’s pediatric oncology ward are doing so because of Kidzcan’s education and outreach programme aimed at informing medical professionals and traditional medical practitioners about the early signs and symptoms of childhood cancer, and the services Kidzcan provides.

One of these children is Gerard. He is 4 years old and comes from the high density area of Kadoma, where he lives with his parents. When Gerard began to seem unwell and show signs of a swelling head, his parents brought him to the nearby hospital. They found themselves having to sell personal belongings to pay for the mounting medical bills they couldn’t afford, and yet Gerard’s symptoms continued to worsen.

In desperation, they visited a Pentecostal faith healer to ask him to cure their son. Around this time, this paster attended Kidzcan’s education and outreach workshop held for Traditional Medical Practitioners in Kadoma.

That was in January of this year. 

At the workshop, the paster approached Prosper, Kidzcan’s education and outreach officer who was conducting the workshop. He told him about Gerard, and that after learning about the symptoms of brain cancer, he thought Gerard needed to be sent to Parirenyatwa. It is ground-breaking for a traditional medical practitioner to be open to this conventional intervention.  This is not the first time we have seen this openness and willingness to collaborate to save a child’s life.  It has been an amazing process to experience this first-hand.

Gerard was brought in and admitted onto the neuro-surgical ward - A2.  Initially, doctors suspected that he was suffering with hydrocephalus - a build up of fluid on the brain. But, as a result of diagnostic investigations - paid for by Kidzcan - doctors confirmed that Gerard, in fact, had a brain tumour.

Surgery was performed to remove the tumour, but a small bit was left that could not be removed. Gerard subsequently underwent 3 sessions of radiotherapy to shrink the residual tumor.  He was also given a drug to reduce intercranial pressure. Kidzcan provided this drug, as well as a shunt - a tube that drains the fluids from the brain to reduce pressure. The shunts available at the hospital are only suitable for adults, so parents must purchase their child’s independently, at the prohibitive cost of $200. It is with the help of our amazing donors that Kidzcan is able to provide this support.

And it is through education that more and more children will find their way to the sole pediatric oncology ward in the country. Education, and instinct, empowered one paster to save the life of Gerard. We hope for Gerard that he will grow up healthy and, one day, tell his 4 year old son about the people who worked together to save his life. 


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Mar 11, 2013

Kidzcan Volunteers

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Why do I volunteer with Kidzcan?

Kidzcan volunteers play with the children in the hospital playroom every weekday morning. Play is what a child does best, and we find this a valuable tool for distracting them from their illness, loneliness, and pain.  Kidzcan’s group of dedicated volunteers who visit the children to play with them, read to them or lead them in activities are the back-bone of the work that Kidzcan does.

Sally is Kidzcan’s volunteer coordinator. She not only spends time each week playing with children in the ward playroom, but also attends to the needs of our volunteers - liaising with and registering new volunteers, keeping the group in communication, and leading our monthly volunteer meetings. 

Here is her feedback when asked why she volunteers - 

I had spare time on my hands and knew that I would like to be involved with Kidzcan, so offered my services. This has opened up a new world to me. Initially I was concerned that being with such sick children would be difficult. At the same time, I also knew that if in any way I could make their lives just that little bit better then I had to give it a go.

Going into the playroom and being with the children for a couple of hours a week is an incredibly humbling and uplifting experience.  I know it is important that these children get some 'time out' from what is happening to them and are able to participate in activities (whether it be painting, playing card games, playing 'quiet' physical games, singing, etc.) to take their minds off their illnesses. When I see their joy when we play with them, it makes my efforts to facilitate this all worthwhile.

I have always felt that it is important to give something to others, especially to those less fortunate than I am. But I realized it would be a commitment, and unless I was prepared to fully commit myself then I felt I should not offer my services, whatever they may be.   I am also a person who generally feels more comfortable when given specific tasks to do rather than seeing what is needed to be done so in the past have been cautious about offering my services.   

Volunteering at Kidzcan has put me in touch with amazing folk who give so selflessly of their lives/time and for this I am also very grateful.



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