Editorial comment – Child cancer month

New Zealand High Commission first secretary Christine Conway (with garland) cut the cake with children and their families to mark the launch of the WOWS Kids Fiji monthly appeal at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel. Picture: ATU RASEA

As the war against COVID-19 continues, we are left to accept that it isn’t going to be a stroll in the park so to speak.

The pandemic has been dragging on, with new variants popping up around the world.

It has basically changed the way we look at life now. In the face of that, we are reminded there are other little wars being fought alongside it.

They have been impacted negatively by the pandemic.

Those impacted by these campaigns, however, feel pain and anguish. They feel insecure, and there is great frustration. It’s as if their problems have been relegated to the background.

We discussed non-communicable diseases yesterday, and the availability or lack it, of treatment.

Today, there are parents and guardians in Fiji who are struggling to overcome a sense of fear in the overwhelming face of COVID-19.

They are trying their best not to be overwhelmed by what is happening around them as they continue to live with children suffering from cancer. This month is set aside for childhood cancer awareness. These children live among us.

Some may be our neighbours and children of our friends. Given the intricacies of life, there are many things we are unable to control, and many things we take for granted. Whenever cancer is raised, a lot of us have a pre-conceived notion that death is the next phase. In fact we assume many things.

It is difficult to understand or appreciate what parents and guardians who have children suffering life-threatening illnesses like cancer go through daily. You’ve got to be in their shoes to feel the pain or the frustration and sense of insecurity.

The fact is when you look at many children at the CWM Hospital’s Oncology Ward in Suva, sometimes it is difficult to tell that some of them are quite sick. However, in between 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.

They are showered with love and attention by their parents, guardians and the doctors and nurses. For their families, life revolves around their special children.

Many do not have a lot of time left on Earth. Their young lives are cut short by cancer. Being diagnosed with a serious illness does impact family members who live with the knowledge that their loved one is different. Parents and guardians have sleepless nights and they worry a lot.

This is why we say early detection is a critical part of fighting cancer. It can make a difference. This is why there is a need for vigilance and awareness.

The former president Jioji Konrote reminded us back in 2019 that cancer does not discriminate. He urged Fijians to live a healthy lifestyle.

He spoke about the importance of early detection. This month is Child Cancer Awareness month. It’s a month when Walk On Walk Strong Fiji (WOWS Fiji), an organisation set up for young cancer sufferers, works on creating awareness about child cancer. This month is signified by a golden ribbon.

You can be a part of this worthwhile cause, to understand, appreciate and embrace childhood cancer awareness. Let’s do this for our children this month!

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