Among the many health-related concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic are life-threatening illnesses that are going undiagnosed or being overlooked because people fear visiting medical facilities. For non-profit organisation, Rainbows and Smiles Foundation, a major worry is that early warning signs of childhood cancer are being missed, which could result in treatment starting too late for many.
“Every year, almost 1 000 South African children are diagnosed with cancer and, because of our socio-economic challenges, early warning signs are often undetected,” said Bonita Suckling
Founder Member of Rainbow and Smiles Foundation. “As a result, these children face a difficult battle. Experts estimate that around two-thirds of childhood cancers in our country remain unreported. To improve survival rates, more children need to be diagnosed early and treated by a pediatrician.”
She said that the challenges are now compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic and strain on the healthcare facilities: “Rainbows and Smiles have faced multiple constraints and, with Covid-19 prioritised, there are subsequent delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
Another major concern for the foundation is that families are reluctant to take their children to the doctor because of coronavirus risk.
“A delay in diagnosis could result in more advanced cancer that is harder to treat,” continued Suckling. “This is why we are putting more effort into creating awareness, breaking down barriers and curbing the stigma that can quickly emerge during a time of crisis.”
5 early detection signs to look out for
1. Check for any white spots in the eye, any new squint, blindness or bulging eyeball.
2. Check for lumps on the pelvis, abdomen, head, neck, limbs, testes or glands.
3. If there is any prolonged fever (more than two weeks), loss of weight, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding.
4. If there is any aching of bones, joints, back or easy fractures.
5. Check for neurological symptoms such as a change or deterioration in walk or balance; changes or deterioration in speech; any regression of milestones; any ongoing headaches (more than a week) with or without vomiting; or an enlarged head.
In addition to sharing lifesaving information, Rainbows and Smiles Foundation brings much-needed support – emotional, financial and social – as well as happiness to children with cancer, their caregivers and the medical fraternity. The sad reality of childhood cancer is that some children will not survive it, and the NPO works with organisations in the community to promote professional
counselling for children and their families and caregivers in the case that a child’s illness is terminal, or when one a child hero dies.
The NPO receives no government funding, relying solely on the generosity sponsors and volunteers. If you would like to provide assistance, a wishlist is outlined below. Please note that charity deals with children whose immune systems are severely compromised due to cancer treatments. To that end, all donated items must be new or washed as any germs can be catastrophic for a child fighting cancer.
Wishlist for children:
· New books (or almost new) for the mobile libraries.
· Craft sets – the sets from The Crazy Store are ideal – otherwise beading sets, stickers, fabric paint sets, glitter pens, paints, sketch pads, scrapbook kits or wooden craft sets.
· Crayons – roll ups if possible as they don’t break and can be sanitized.
· Pre-loved, good quality clothes (washed).
· Nappies (size 4 and up) and wet wipes.
Wish list for nurses (they need some appreciation at this time!):
· Cappuccino sachets and biscuits (these are such a treat!)
· Peanut butter
· Microwave popcorn
· Teaspoons and mugs (these are very in demand!)
Dream wish list:
· R300 food vouchers from Checkers or Pick ‘n Pay (this is a set amount for fair distribution) for families.
· A wrap sponsor for the mobile library which can include sponsor’s logo.
· Microwaves x 3
· Toasters x3 (new if possible)
· Furniture for the kitchen (2 x tables with chairs)
· Airtime vouchers
· Monetary donations – Rainbows and Smiles is a public benefit organisation in terms of section 30 of the income tax act. This is a BBBEE level 1 accredited, voluntary association and donations are tax deductible.
RAINBOWS AND SMILES
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch: Germiston, Lambton
Account Number: 020 313 373
Branch Code: 011 642
Reference: Your Name
For more information or to keep updated on Rainbows and Smiles events:
Like the ‘Rainbows and Smiles’ Facebook page
Follow @rainbowsandsmilesfoundation on Instagram
Follow @RbowsSmilesNPO on Twitter