Living Life On The Edge
Her World Malaysia|August 2018

A cancer diagnosis is scary at any age, fraught as it is with uncertainties – more so if it’s your young child who is ill.

Amanda Soh
As a parent, the need to keep your child healthy and safe is an utmost priority. When they are plagued with illnesses, sleepless nights will follow to make sure they regain their strength and health. More heartbreaking is when a trip to the doctor ends with devastating news: the Big C. However, you do not have to go through this fight alone. Here, Mary Anne Loh opens up about her struggles as a single parent to Ethan, who at barely three years old had been diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Ethan’s doctor, Dr Chan Lee Lee, also provides an insight into ALL.

THE BREAKDOWN

“According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2007-2011, a total of 103,507 new cancer cases were diagnosed during the period of 2007 to 2011. Of this, childhood cancer (affecting those aged 0 to 18 years old) comprised 3,829 cases, which accounted for three to four per cent of all cancer cases observed in Malaysia,” Dr Chan Lee Lee expounds. Also, the report shows that the five most common cancers present among children are leukaemia, followed by cancer of the brain and nervous system, lymphoma, bone, and testis or ovary.

THE MOST COMMON OF THEM ALL

Dr Chan explains that “ALL is a cancer involving white blood cells in the body, and it’s the most common in children. The symptoms include unexplainable, irregular fevers; paleness or bruises on the body; and sometimes, bone or joint pains. What’s also noteworthy is that most cases of ALL are not linked to a known cause.” Although, says Dr Chan, “There are some congenital symptoms that increase the risk for leukaemia, such as Down syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and inherited immune deficiencies.”

CHECK-UPS

If your child has had the symptoms mentioned above for days to weeks before being diagnosed, it is deemed as late detection. Treatment is typically chemotherapy for two years.

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