Childhood Cancer is DIFFICULT; it is a disease that invades not only the child’s body, but everything about his/her family’s life, and unlike adult cancer, Childhood Cancer is a LONG battle which is fought every day for anything up to 2 or 3/4 years – by the WHOLE family.
Today we would like to bring you the story of one of our Little Fighters, Vickus Niemann, as sent to us by his mommy, Laticia Niemann – in her own words.
We moved to Lusaka, Zambia in April 2018. It was scary but we did it as a family. Vickus started school when he was 1 year and 6 months old, in February 2019.
Vickus is just like any other little boy but with a bit of a medical history:
One day in February 2019 he was playing outside with the dogs and the watering hose. The next day we took him to school like any other day. The school phoned and said Vickus is feverish, vomiting and limping. This is a call no one wants to get!
Picked little Vickus up from school and took him to the doctor on the other side of Lusaka. The doctor said something was very wrong as a child doesn’t just start limping. She sent us to the one hospital to get an MRI, CT scan and blood work done.
Our biggest fear was showing up on the CT scan – a big mass next to his left kidney. Unfortunately, Zambia is not equipped to deal with this type of situation.
The doctors suggested we come back to South Africa and get medical care here. We got on a plane down to Cape Town, Red Cross children’s hospital. They were very helpful but overcrowded, the doctor said that we should go to Tygerberg Hospital, G3 unit. This is the oncology ward.
We saw the doctor and the professor and they gave us a treatment plan and other options BUT they wanted to get the chemo started as soon as possible as Vickus was already stage 4 High risk.
- 4x chemo sessions – 21 days apart
- MRI scan and operation
- 3x chemo session – 21 days apart
- MRI scan and operation
All of this did not happen overnight… Vickus got his first chemo on the 29th of April 2019. This was scary but it was something that had to be done.
First chemo went well, second chemo also went as planned, so did the third chemo but the day we were supposed to get the forth chemo Vickus’s blood counts was too low and it was moved on with a week. Finally when he received the forth chemo we were excited and scared.
The scans was next to be done. The MRI showed that the mass was 60% smaller and that they can operate and remove the primary mass. That is when we found out he had a second mass next to his spine.
Tygerberg was also a bit short of theatre time so Vickus had his fifth chemo and then he had the operation. They could only remove the primary mass, the second mass was too close to his spine and he would be paralyzed if they tried to remove it.
He had his sixth and seventh chemo and all went well. We got the ‘ok’ from the doctor to go home for 2 weeks before the next MRI scans.
It was amazing to be able to sleep in our own beds. The week was going very well but on the Saturday Vickus started to get fever and did not want to eat. We took him to the doctor and it showed that Vickus’s blood counts was extremely low and we had to be E-vacced from Zambia. At that time we could not get hold of Tygerberg so our medical insurance got hold of the Oncologist at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Dr Kate Bennett.
She was there on the Sunday morning just past 06:00 am. She helped Vickus with antibiotics and other medications and she was very helpful and surprised with how good Vickus is looking.
We decided to do the rest of the treatment here at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre with Dr Kate.
We did the MRI and they saw there was a collection of blood in Vickus’ abdomen, he had surgery to get it removed and the second mass that was close to his spine was completely gone.
Dr Kate gave us a treatment plan to get Vickus in remission.
Stem-cell transplant consisting of the following:
- Stem-cell harvest
- Strong chemo
- Stem-cell implant
- 12x sessions of radiation
We are currently between the stem cell transplant and the radiation.
Vickus is currently getting blood because his blood counts are very low, as soon as it picks up we will be able to start the radiation. After radiation it is scans and hopefully. We hope to be able to go home end of March 2020.
The above is just a fraction of what a Child with Cancer and their family has to go through – Vickus and his family still have a long road ahead, and all of us at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust wish them all everything of the best and will continue to offer support to them through this journey.
Please join us in praying for young Vickus and his Family that everything goes well and that he will soon be in remission and able to live his young life cancer-free!
UPDATE: Vickus was discharged on Friday 31 January – went back for a check-up Monday – we are holding thumbs for a good result!