International Childhood Cancer Day is a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors, and their families. Of the 400,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year, most of those children live in lower-income countries where survival rates can be as low as 10%, compared to 86% in the United States. In honor of International Childhood Cancer Day, Love Your Melon is putting a spotlight on our 2023 Giving Partner, World Child Cancer.
World Child Cancer's mission is to improve diagnosis, treatment, and support for children with cancer and their families in low and middle-income countries around the world. WCC delivers programs in Mexico, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cameroon, Kosovo, Malawi, Kenya, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
A Full Circle Story: Prince
Prince was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 10, and had to undergo years of treatment at World Child Cancer's partner hospital in Ghana. Through his determination, he was able to complete his recovery from cancer. He has since obtained a degree, become a biomedical scientist, gotten married, and gone on to launch the Living Dreams Foundation to support families affected by leukemia. He is currently pursuing a professional course to become a Doctor of Medical Laboratory Science through World Child Cancer's scholarship program for childhood cancer survivors. Learn more about Prince’s story in the video or interview below:
How do you feel being a childhood cancer survivor defined you and who you are today?
It takes a lot to become a child cancer survivor in Ghana especially, during my time. My parents had to fund all my treatments. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet any survivors in Ghana to educate me more on the condition. The fear of the disease coming back is even worse than having the disease. It has taken time to make up for some of the losses from that time.
The joy of being a survivor and its impact on my family, can’t be underestimated.
Are there any memories that are especially strong from those 7 years (good or tough) that you’d like to share?
Tough Memories: losing some friends I met at the ward, missing so many activities at school, feeling stigmatized, living a more isolated life due to my condition, and thoughts of fear related to uncertainty of making it through this journey.
Good Memories: the love I needed and felt from my family, having the opportunity to travel and meeting people with the same condition as mine who survived. I got to understand a broader sense of life better.
How did you feel visiting Korele-Bu Hospital in Ghana as an adult after so many years? What changed? What was the same? Did you see any familiar faces? How did it feel to speak with the children being cared for at the same facility you were?
Anytime I visit Korle-Bu, which is also now my workplace, it brings a lot of all these good and bad memories. Simply put, mixed feelings. With regard to changes, since I was a child there has been improvement in administration of quality healthcare. As for what is the same, while these patients are new faces, these families still have to halt any other activities to focus on treatment.
Is there anything you’d like to say to a parent or child facing a recent cancer diagnosis?
Even though it takes a lot during the diagnosis and treatments, you can’t just give up. There are millions of people out there looking up to you and ready for you to share your success story with them and also impact their lives.
Love Your Melon has provided grants to help deliver family support to World Child Cancer since 2019. With World Child Cancer’s support, more children in Ghana are able to be diagnosed and receive treatment than ever before. What are your hopes for the future of the children diagnosed with cancer in Ghana?
I hope that we can continue to support the treatment of Ghanaian children who suffer from cancer. I also hope to see additional opportunities for granting survivors like myself funds to support our education, and funds for trips meant for survivors to speak to congress and conventions around the globe to meet and learn from other survivors.
Love Your Melon has provided funding to World Child Cancer since 2019. To date, LYM support has helped 2250 children and their families across Ghana, Cameroon, and Mawlai.
This year’s LYM funding will support approximately 228 children and family members across 13 regions. This can cover treatment and diagnostic costs, as well as transport and accommodation grants for treatment and stays away from home. It can also cover psychosocial support, such as counseling and play therapy, ensuring children’s mental wellbeing during their treatment.