Editorial comment – Childhood cancer awareness

WOWS Kids Fiji. Picture:FILE

Today, there are parents and guardians in Fiji who are struggling to overcome a sense of fear, and they try not to be overwhelmed by what is happening around them.

Aside from the state of the world right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting many nations quite hard, these families live with children who are suffering from cancer.

This month is set aside for childhood cancer awareness.

It’s when we get to appreciate there are children suffering from many forms of cancer.

They live among us.

Some may be our neighbours and children of our friends. Some are relatives.

Maciu Koroitamana, for instance, a teacher, had to be strong for his son Taito James.

He had to remain focused and positive in the face of the ups and downs of cancer, following Taito’s diagnosis.

Receiving the news was hard to accept, he said.

But with the support of his family, friends, and the Walk On Walk Strong (WOWS) Kids Fiji Foundation, he and his family stayed strong.

Taito was diagnosed with the condition when he was four years old in 2016.

When the pain started, his dad said, they took Taito to the Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital where he was admitted in the children’s ward after a series of tests.

Part of his intestine was removed during surgery.

After the operation, he was still recovering when the family was told to wait for the doctors to continue tests.

The tests confirmed Taito had cancer.

It was tough to hear.

However, the family stood together over the years, providing the impetus for young Taito to remain strong.

There are many things in life we are unable to control, and many things we take for granted.

Life can be tough on us.

We sometimes fear hardship and dread the thought of seemingly overwhelming odds staring back at us.

Whenever cancer is raised, many of us have a pre-conceived notion that death is the next step.

Not many people will understand or appreciate what parents and guardians who have children suffering life-threatening illnesses like cancer go through daily.

For many children at the CWM Hospital’s Oncology Ward in Suva, it is difficult to tell that some of them are quite sick.

In between the rounds of strong medication, some of which are very painful, they love doing things little children are expected to do.

They can be quite inquisitive, friendly, and many make friends easily and leave a lasting impression when it is time to go home, or move on.

These children know they are special.

They are showered with love and attention by their parents, guardians and the doctors and nurses.

For their families, life revolves around the children.

Being diagnosed with a serious illness does impact family members who have to live with the knowledge that their loved one is different.

Every day families cling on to hope and must be brave for their little ones.

Parents and guardians have sleepless nights and they will worry, feel frustrated, and many harbour a sense of doubt and insecurity.

Every day they put on an imaginary mask to cover the pain they feel.

A key message is on early detection.

Early detection is a critical part of fighting cancer.

It can make a difference.

That is why there is a need for vigilance and awareness.

This month has been earmarked for childhood cancer and it is signified by a golden ribbon.

Let’s be part of this worthwhile cause, to understand, appreciate and embrace cancer awareness.

Let’s do this for our children this month.

More Stories