During our visit to Ghana, Professor Lorna Renner introduced us to 26-year-old Prince, a cancer survivor who was treated by Professor Renner when he was just 10 years old;
“I was a young boy when I first started to feel unwell. Professor Lorna was wonderful when treating me but it took quite some time for me to be taken to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) as my family lived over two hours outside of the city.”
“Before I came to KBTH my parents tried taking me to many local doctors who prescribed me with medicine for malaria. I remember taking many medicines but none made me feel better, it was only when a healthcare worker suggested we travel to KBTH that I finally received an accurate diagnosis.”
Korle Bu Teaching hospital now features the Mother’s Hostel that allows parents who travel from afar to stay at whilst their child receives treatment. This was introduced after Prince’s treatment meaning his family had to make the four hour journey to and from hospital each time he required treatment.
“Arriving at KBTH I was diagnosed with leukaemia, my parents had not heard of cancer before and I soon found out that they were not alone. As I had to return home between treatment cycles, I became a taboo subject in my village. People assumed I was suffering from AIDs or another disease that could be passed on so parents would stop me from playing with their children. I could feel people looking at me as I walked through the village. Looking back, I cannot blame them as my own parents had not heard of cancer until the diagnosis but it was a very sad time for me – I had to walk around with a hat on to hide the fact I had lost my hair.”
“The nurses on the ward did a great job in comforting me. I had been visiting KBTH for almost two years by now and they understood what I was going through and treated me as a person rather than a patient. As I started to feel better I also became more frustrated, I wanted to go home and to return to school. Just after my 12th birthday I asked my mum if we could go home, I told her I felt fine and we left. If I had known that just a year later my cancer would return I never would have left.”
As a result of not completing his treatment, Prince’s cancer returned when he was 13. He grew frustrated at himself when he found out things could have been different had he and his family not left hospital.
“I had to start the treatment all over again which was so frustrating. Instead of three and a half years of treatment it took almost nine until I was finally declared cancer free.”
“I am a very determined person and throughout my treatment, even after the setback when leaving hospital, I continued to study and I have now managed to obtain my first degree in Medical Lab Sciences.”
Prince has gone on to launch the Living Dreams Foundation to support families affected by Leukaemia. Prince’s story is one of inspiration and determination and this International Childhood Cancer Day you can give children around the world the gift of growing up by donating.