By the time that seven year-old Abigail was admitted into Mbingo Baptist Hospital, her whole life had been turned upside down. Her grandmother, Suzanne, who brought her to the hospital recalls the pain that her grandaughter was in:
Six months ago Suzanne left her farm and her home to dedicate herself to her sick granddaughter. After searching for a diagnosis for Abigail for four months, a doctor referred them to a hospital in Yaoundé. However, Suzanne had no money or support system in the capital city, meaning that the journey simply wasn't an option. It was then suggested that they try Mbingo Baptist Hospital. It was here that Abigail was diagnosed with leukaemia and began treatment immediately. She is now in the final stages of her six month's of treatment and was looking forward to returning home.
However, the Coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty. When we spoke to Suzanne, the virus was beginning to have an impact Cameroon and she worried about what it could mean for Abigail's treatment. She knows that children with cancer like her grandchild are potentially more vulnerable to the virus. They have been taught about the importance of hygiene and how to wash their hands by nurses at the hospital, however if the situation in Cameroon escalates, a lockdown could affect how the hospital accesses food and medication which is a huge concern.
For now though, Abigail and her grandmother have made the We Care Home Hospice (a centre supported by World Child Cancer) at Mbingo Baptist Hospital their home. Movement to their home in Bamenda where her grandmother cares for eight other children has been restricted by the unrest that has engulfed the English-speaking part of the country for the past four years,. This, along with the prospect of a lockdown means that Suzanne does not know when she will see her family again. Despite all this, they choose to remain optimistic. They’re grateful for free medication, good accommodation and food at the hospital. Abigail is even looking forward to go back to school!
The coronavirus pandemic poses a huge threat to children with cancer all over the world, who need your support now more than ever. Please give what you can today to help ensure that we can continue to be there for children like Abigail now and in the future.