(Based on an interview with Ilong Gleasong, Oma’s father, by our Nurse in charge of the oncology and palliative care units, Claire Lalam. (these are not the true names of the patient and father)
Oma was a healthy boy aged 14 years, who attended school regularly. He was in primary 6 in December 2012 and appeared well and energetic at the beginning of the month. On the 15th of December, however, he developed fever, headache and intermittent abdominal pain which rapidly worsened as his abdomen became swollen and he became progressively weaker. Soon, he could not walk and was unable to eat. During this time he was taken to various health facilities where he was given repeated treatments for malaria and other common infections – such “empirical” treatment (treatment without a diagnosis) usually helps children with fevers, which are most often caused by malaria or another infection. However, Oma did not improve. In fact he continued to deteriorate. Eventually he went to APAC Hospital, where an ultrasound examination of the abdominal was performed. This identified a large mass (lump) in the abdomen, the most likely cause of which was felt to be cancer. Oma was therefore referred to Lacor hospital for further tests and potentially, treatment.
“When we arrived at Lacor hospital,” said Ilong, “Oma was very weak, malnourished and not even able to sit up.”
He was also in a great deal of pain that was only partly controlled by morphine given every 4 hours. A biopsy (tissue sample) of the abdominal mass was performed, which the pathologist reviewed and diagnosed as Burkitt lymphoma.
Treatment was started promptly and Oma has already completed the 4th cycle of chemotherapy. “He has some vomiting on the day after the treatment,” says Ilong, but he improved very quickly once treatment was started. His abdominal swelling had disappeared just 1 week after the 1st dose of chemotherapy.”
Oma is already playing with other boys and girls. He is happy and seems very healthy again. He often thinks about going back to school, and sometimes misses his siblings at home, whom he has not seen since he came to Lacor. His home is far away and the family cannot afford to go home and come back for treatment every 2 weeks. The father is worried about financial issues since he lives by farming a small plot of land and has a young family of 6 children to feed, the eldest being Oma and the youngest just 2 years old. Ilong is, therefore, very grateful that he will not have to pay for the treatment.
Ilong and Oma have a general understanding of the illness and are both very pleased that he has done so well.
They have expressed their gratitude to the hospital for saving his life. In turn, the hospital is grateful to all the people who have donated generously to GlobalGiving, without whose help they could not achieve this seemingly miraculous result.