A Father of a Boy with Burkitt Lymphoma in Uganda Shares Their Story

My name is Anthony, a 35-year-old Ugandan male. I am a vehicle mechanic residing in Kalongo, Agago district with my family. This year my son, Michael Akena-4yrs, was diagnosed and treated for Burkitts lymphoma.

It all started in March when Michael started coming down with fevers and very low appetite. He received treatment from Kalongo hospital where it was determined that he had an abdominal mass that was suspected to be cancer. On March 9th, he was referred to Lacor hospital for further investigations and medical care. My wife and I were so scared at the mention of cancer.

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At Lacor Hospital Michael was seen at the Young Child Clinic and investigations from the x-ray, ultra sound, laboratory were made and a biopsy was taken. After 1 week, Michael was admitted in the Burkitts Lymphoma ward and the Dr. told me he was suffering from a cancer called Burkitts lymphoma. She gave me some information about Burkitts lymphoma and assured me it is treatable and curable especially because I had brought Michael early enough before it had advanced. I was told he could receive treatment from Mulago or Lacor hospital. I chose Lacor hospital because it is nearer home for supplies of food. She assured me the treatment was free of charge here at Lacor Hospital. As all this was going on, I felt so bad emotionally. I had questions like how this could have happened since there was no cancer record in my family. It was a challenging moment but I had confidence in the hospital because many people including a fellow staff at work had assured me that it is a good place for management of this cancer.

After 1 week at the hospital during which he was receiving different medications, Michael was given Chemotherapy. I was told about the side effects like vomiting and hair loss but I was convinced that it was a small price to pay for the life of my son. I was desperate to have my Son alive and well. I was with him when he received the treatment. It was not a discomfort for him except for the vomiting which wasn’t so intense. He went through 6 rounds of Chemotherapy. During this time I saw my son getting better and better. I could feel that his stomach was getting softer and see it getting smaller. On the 6th, he experienced chills which gave me a bit of a scare but after some time he was all right.

After the 4th round of chemotherapy, the doctor told me that the mass had collected together and needed to be removed and since it was attached to the right kidney, it would also have to be removed.

I was not only scared of the operation but also of the fact that my child would have one kidney for the rest of his life. I was assured that many people were surviving with one kidney so I gained courage to see my child through this 1.5hr operation. It was done at no cost and Michael recovered steadily.

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Michael is now well, plays well and is very excited about life. He resumed school and does not fall sick any more. I feel so happy and relieved that I can bring my son to the hospital for control review and am told that all is well. I am so grateful to the hospital and the doctors for availing all the medical care to my child. It is comforting to know that there is a place where our children can be treated for this disease. The people in my village are also amazed that we have a place like this. The staff at Lacor hospital was very warm and helpful. They always responded fast when I called unto them. The only challenge I faced was that the BL ward was small for the admissions made. So many a time children had to share sleeping space but this compared to my child getting better was no problem at all. As I write off I once again thank Lacor hospital and the donors who provide drugs for treatment of cancer cases making it affordable and for what they did for my family especially my son Michael. I do not have the words to express my gratitude only that I pray this service goes on and on and that God blesses mightily all those availing it.

Thank you.

Anthony

Editor’s Note: Because this is a personal story, we have not edited this story apart from removing the family name of Mr Anthony and his son. Permission was obtained from this father to share this story.

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