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Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa

by The International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR)
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Cure 250 Children with Burkitt Lymphoma in Africa
Allan After Treatment
Allan After Treatment

Allan, a 14-year old boy, came to St Mary’s Hospital Lacor in January.  He was accompanied by his mother. They reported that he had a three-month history of progressive and painful abdominal swelling. He stated that he had also lost weight, particularly in the month prior to admission to St Mary's. On examination, we found him to be very ill and severely malnourished. In addition to the visible abdominal distention, we could easily feel a well-defined mass in his upper right abdomen.  

Allan immediately underwent a series of tests that showed that he had disease that was widespread throughout his abdomen. He had multiple masses in his liver and a very large mass within his abdominal cavity. A biopsy taken of the abdominal mass confirmed our suspected diagnosis of Burkitt lymphoma. He promptly began the appropriate treatment for this type of cancer which consists of six cycles of chemotherapy. In addition to chemotherapy, he received nutritional rehabilitation. The first cycle of chemotherapy was a tough one for Allan. Because of the extent of his disease, Allan had to be carefully supported prior to the initiation of the first cycle and monitored closely once treatment began to ensure that his kidneys were working well – especially when his lymphoma began to break down - which can sometimes result in kidney failure and death. After he made it through these first few days, he developed dangerously low levels of infection-fighting white blood cells that also had the potential to be life-threatening. He recovered from the first cycle and went on to complete the rest of his chemotherapy with minimal side effects. All signs of his Burkitt lymphoma disappeared after the first two cycles of therapy.

Before Allan became ill, he lived with his parents and four siblings in the Lira District in northern Uganda. He performed very well in school.  He helped his mother in the family’s garden to ensure that they had sufficient food to eat. He also helped his mother when she needed to go to the market to buy other food and supplies for the family. During treatment, he was always concerned about his mother because she was the sole provider for the family as sadly, his father was mentally unwell. The hospital staff thought that he was very mature for his age.   

Now that he has completed treatment, Allan cannot wait to resume his normal life.  He wants to continue to support his mother in whatever ways he can. He also wishes to return to school and complete his education so that one day, he can become a teacher - his big dream for the future.

Thank you to everyone who supports this project. Without your donations, children like Allan would not be able to receive an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate care and treatment for this highly curable cancer. Children with Burkitt lymphoma need to be given the chance for cure – no matter how extensive their tumor may be at the time of diagnosis – so that they, too, can be given hope to fulfill their dreams for the future.

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Ruth After Treatment
Ruth After Treatment

Ruth was 9 years old when she first came to St Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu. She is from a village in Lira, the district that borders Gulu in northern Uganda.   Her father brought her to St Mary’s in June 2019 after she experienced a one-month history of progressive and painful abdominal swelling.  

When she was admitted to our hospital, Ruth was quite ill. Her nutritional status was very poor and she had severe wasting. Upon examination, she had a grossly distended abdomen and an ill-defined mass that was palpable and very large.  She underwent blood work, a chest x-ray and an ultrasound of her abdomen.  The ultrasound revealed that she had multiple tumors in her liver, a separate large mass within her abdominal cavity as well as fluid in the abdomen.  A biopsy of the large abdominal mass was performed which confirmed that she had Burkitt lymphoma.

Ruth required supportive care, including nutritional support, and was started on first-line (FL) chemotherapy for Burkitt lymphoma that consisted of cyclophosphamide, vincristine, methotrexate and treatment to prevent the spread of disease to her central nervous system.

Unfortunately, Ruth did not respond to FL treatment as we had hoped. Therefore, after two cycles of FL therapy, she was immediately changed to the second-line treatment which is intended for patients such as Ruth who do not respond well to FL therapy. The drugs used in this second-line regimen are different to FL. She responded very well to this salvage regimen. Although it is more intensive - meaning that patients can experience more prolonged or serious side effects than with FL therapy, Ruth tolerated second-line therapy well. She completed all planned treatment and achieved a complete response. Ruth was recently seen at the hospital and has no evidence of disease. And, she is recovering her strength.

Thanks to your generous donations to this project, poor children from rural villages have access to the necessary treatment for Burkitt lymphoma, including salvage therapy when needed, in order to provide them with the hope for long-lasting cure and the chance to fulfill their dreams. Thank you again for your support.    

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Robinah After Treatment
Robinah After Treatment

Robinah was 11 years old when she came to St Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu, Uganda. She came to the hospital in April of 2019 and was accompanied by her 16 year old brother. They had lost both of their parents. Their uncle, who provides for them, is a subsistence farmer and could not take the time away from work to bring her to the hospital. Therefore, Robinah and her brother had to make the hazardous journey from their village to St Mary’s alone. Their journey took a very long time because good roads were not easily accessible and transportation services were unreliable.     

Robinah had an approximately one-year history of jaw swelling. Because it was painless, the family did not seek health care. About four months prior to admission, she developed abdominal swelling which progressively worsened. Not long after her abdomen swelled, she developed swelling of her lower limbs and started to have difficulty in breathing. It was then that the family began to mobilize the funds necessary to pay for her transportation to St Mary’s.

Upon admission to the hospital, she had very advanced disease. Not only did she have facial swelling, but she also had wide-spread disease throughout her abdomen. Fluid surrounded both her heart and lungs. A biopsy was performed that confirmed the suspected diagnosis of Burkitt lymphoma. She was promptly started on treatment and rapidly improved. She was able to breathe more easily and her facial swelling became smaller. The staff could see how happy she was. Her brother, who never left her side, was visibly relieved.

After the second cycle of therapy, Robinah was doing so well that she asked if she could go back home so that her brother could continue school. Because the team at St Mary’s was unsure that she would be able to return to complete all six cycles of planned chemotherapy, they called her uncle to obtain his permission to let Robinah stay at the hospital’s family home and informed him that her best chance for a long-term cure was to complete all planned treatment without unnecessary interruptions related to long-distance travel. Her uncle was assured that she would be well taken care of and he agreed to let her stay at the family home during the remainder of her therapy. Her brother then returned home to go back to school.     

The family home was vital to Robinah’s successful outcome. While staying there, she found a second family that supported her. She was excited to have the opportunity to continue with her own education through the school based at the family home. This was important to her because she had missed school for nearly a year prior to her admission to the hospital.   She completed all treatment and presently has no evidence of Burkitt lymphoma.

With your generous contributions to this project, children who are very poor and need support to cover the costs of treatment, including food and accommodation, can be helped. Your donations ensure that a young child with Burkitt lymphoma has the best chance for cure. Thank you again for your support!

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Guido After Two Cycles of Treatment
Guido After Two Cycles of Treatment

After experiencing a week-long history of a rapidly growing mass in the right side of his face, Guido’s parents brought their five-year old son to St Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu, Uganda.

Upon admission to St Mary’s, Guido’s face appeared deformed due to a very large mass on the right side of his face that extended from his upper to lower jaw. He was in pain and had great difficulty in swallowing such that he could barely drink, let alone eat. Inside of his mouth, his teeth were loose and displaced. Given the classical features of the mass and its very rapid growth, the doctors suspected that he had Burkitt lymphoma. Guido underwent a biopsy of the mass and had other tests performed. The biopsy confirmed that he had Burkitt lymphoma. Fortunately, the tumor had not spread to other parts of his body.

Guido was started on chemotherapy as soon as possible and after two cycles of therapy, he no longer had any visible signs of his jaw mass and his face was normal in appearance. He has continued with therapy. This has been a challenge for his parents. They are subsistence farmers and have seven other children to care for at home which is a very long distance from St Mary’s. His mother has remained with Guido throughout treatment, including the times when he is in-between treatment cycles. Although, Guido’s tumor visibly disappeared very rapidly, his parents understood that their son must complete all planned treatment (a total of six cycles of chemotherapy) to ensure that he has the best possible chance of achieving a long-term cure.

Guido and his mother were able to stay at the hospital’s Rainbow Family Home. At the home, he has been helped to overcome his initial sadness and shyness which were largely due to the disfigurement of his face caused by the tumor. Now, that his mass is gone, he is a much happier little boy. He participates in social activities with other children and enjoys attending the Rainbow Family Home School.

A rapidly growing jaw mass in a five-year old who lives in equatorial Africa is a very classical presentation of Burkitt lymphoma. A major factor in whether or not a child survives this highly curable cancer is access to a hospital capable of diagnosing and treating them. Parents dependent upon seasonal farming work and with other children to care for at home find it financially very difficult to pay for treatment and for other expenses associated with being away from home for prolonged periods of time.     

Your generous donations to this project help us to provide not only the necessary treatment, but also other types of support that children with Burkitt lymphoma and their families need. Thank you!

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Faith After Two Cycles of Therapy
Faith After Two Cycles of Therapy

Faith is a 10-year old Ugandan girl who developed swelling of her left eye.  She had no prior history of any major illnesses and had not suffered any trauma to her eye. The swelling was initially small, but progressively increased in size and became quite painful. When the swelling of her eye first began, her parents took her to a nearby health center where she was prescribed eye drops that did not stop the swelling. Her parents then took her to a nearby hospital.  The doctors there referred her to St Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu for evaluation. 

Faith was admitted to St Mary’s in early February – some three weeks from the start of the problems with her eye.  Upon examination, her left eye was protruding out of the socket and she could not move her eye in a normal way.  By this time, she had also lost the vision in this eye.  Her lower eyelid was extremely swollen.  The mass was very large and occupied her upper jaw as well.  Due to the history of the rapid growth of this mass, it was suspected that Faith had Burkitt lymphoma. A biopsy was performed which confirmed this diagnosis.  Thankfully, all of the other tests to determine if she had sites of disease in other parts of her body were negative.

Faith was started on the INCTR treatment protocol for Burkitt lymphoma which consists of six cycles of chemotherapy.  She had a dramatic response to the first cycle of treatment. After this cycle, her eye was no longer protruding and the vision in that eye returned to normal. Following the second cycle, all of the remaining swelling in her eye and jaw had resolved completely. There were no residual effects caused by this large tumor that had compressed vital nerves that control eye sight and movement. She is presently in remission and is finishing up her last cycle of therapy. Because of the long distance from her home in the Kiryadongo district to St Mary’s in Gulu, she has been staying at the hospital’s family home during treatment. She is looking forward to returning home to see her siblings and her friends and to going back to school very soon.

Faith is very lucky that she was referred to St Mary promptly. Faith could have suffered permanent blindness if she had not been treated as soon as she was. Other children with Burkitt lymphoma may not be so fortunate because they experience delays in reaching a hospital like St Mary's which is capable of treating children with cancer. One of the most common reasons for delays is due to the great distances that families must travel and the costs that are associated with their journeys to reach a specialty hospital. Since the majority of families are very poor, it takes them time to gather the necessary funds to cover these costs. Because of your generous donations to this project, Faith and other children with Burkitt lymphoma, receive this necessary support for travel and are able to be diagnosed and treated for free. Thank you again for your donations!    

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Project Leader:
Melissa Adde
Brussels, Brussels Belgium
$97,708 raised of $99,900 goal
 
746 donations
$2,192 to go
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