Nurse Wendy

Wendy Eyiah-Mensah is a paediatric oncology nurse at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, Ghana.

Wendy trained at Presbyterian University College, completing a four-year degree and training at a nearby hospital before joining KBTH. Wendy enjoys many aspects of her job but is especially proud of developing close bonds with the children on the ward;

When I put a smile on a child’s face it makes me feel satisfied and want to do more. My relationship with the children is such that I joke with them and they feel free to talk to me about anything. I get cases where, even after conducting painful procedures, children will thank me and hug me. I was once administering medication to a young boy who was crying from the pain but once it had finished he put his hand on my neck and thanked me. It’s moments like these that motivate me to do my utmost for these children.

As well as developing close relationships with the children on the ward, Wendy also enjoys the company of her colleagues, describing a family environment full of determination and optimism. Despite the ongoing efforts of Wendy and the rest of the team at KBTH, there are still a multitude of challenges that cause children to abandon treatment or never reach hospital at all;

With the costs of the cancer drugs and treatment not covered by the national health insurance scheme, some parents cannot afford to pay for medication, resulting in disrupted and extended treatment cycles.

Despite cancer treatment costs being high for families, many of whom are already living in poverty, there is hope. World Child Cancer supports some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in the world by providing funds for essential treatment costs. However, financial aspects are not the only barriers that prevent children in Ghana from accessing the treatment they need;

Awareness of childhood cancer is low meaning some children arrive at hospital with late stages of cancer. It pains me to see a child dying because of a lack of knowledge.

This lack of knowledge is not always limited to parents and families, it extends to local medical centres and healthcare workers. People simply are not aware of childhood cancer or how to treat it.

Some families abandon treatment because they don’t have enough money, others are frightened by the side effects as they have never heard of childhood cancer or the treatment processes required.

As well as providing direct support to patients and their families, World Child Cancer develops twinning partnerships between healthcare workers in the developed world and those in developing countries. These partnerships enable more healthcare workers to spot the early warning signs of childhood cancer and develop a faster route to better treatment.

Being a nurse plays with my emotions a lot. You get attached to a patient and family and then they pass away or they abandon their treatment. It is very sad to lose someone you have helped nurse to health. It breaks me down sometimes but then I see the wave of emotions around me; children crying, others laughing, families from differing backgrounds all affected by cancer and it motivates me to do the best I can to help the people on the ward.

World Child Cancer has been working at KBTH for several years now. When first embarking on the project, childhood cancer survival rates were as low as 20% but have now risen to over 60%. Despite this achievement, there is still a long way to go as we are still reaching only a third of all children who develop cancer each year in Ghana.

You can help give the gift of growing up to children with cancer by donating today. Every child deserves the opportunity to a future.