Friday, 31 October 2014

Changing sites

Not sure if anyone is even checking this blog anymore as we have kind of gone missing in action. But if there is still someone out there, check out for updates on our new work. Thanks!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Update by Dr Jason

We have a new crop of kids at the hospital and, as always, I get a bit attached to them.  The three kids in the picture below are three of our longterm patients.  From left to right: Issa, Hassim, and Mohamed sitting in my office where they often hang out (and fight with each other).  


Issa came to us several months ago with two severely deformed legs.  He has Blount's disease which cause extreme curving of the leg bones.  We're fortunate in that we have access to a CURE surgical hospital in Niger (a country east of Mali) where they do free operations for kids in need.  We were able to send Issa there for a surgery that involved breaking both of his curved legs, resetting them, and casting them until they heal.  Now he has straight legs.  Both of his legs have been in casts for several weeks but he has managed well.


As you can see, getting around the pediatric ward (and all of the hospital for that matter) has not been a problem for him. He is an expert on that skateboard. Seriously, he leans forward, pushes with his hands, and off he goes.  He's everywhere!  He's one of the cutest kids around. To be honest, though, he's a handful and I have to make him leave my office so I can get work done because he talks nonstop.  That lasts for about five minutes and he's back :-)  We've been able to take one of his casts off and the other one will come off soon.  Hopefully he'll be up walking in the next couple of weeks.


Hassim is a garabout.  Sometimes when very poor parents cannot feed and care for their family, they will "give" one or more of their children to a marabout (a "holy" man) who will take over the care of the child.  Ideally this means caring for him, educating him, and feeding him.  Unfortunately, the reality is that garabout boys are sent into the streets to beg and bring their wages back to the marabout.


Hassim was discovered by one of my teammates who feed garabout boys twice a week.  He noticed Hassim had a very swollen face and brought him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma. It's a treatable cancer and Hassim has done extremely well with his treatment.  As you can see in the picture on the right, his jaw is much less swollen.  Hassim also developed an infection of his jaw bone and had to have part of it removed.  He's recovering well.  Fortunately, Hassim's marabout is a pretty nice guy and has allowed Hassim to be treated at our hospital, despite our differing beliefs. Hassim finished his last chemo cycle this week and went "home" today.  It was a bittersweet goodbye.  


Mohamed is another one of our cancer kids.  He has what is called a rhabdomyosarcoma.  It's a type of muscle cancer and he had a large tumor removed from his right calf muscle.  He will also require chemotherapy.  


Mohamed's mother is a sweet lady and dotes on him.  He's quite a mama's boy.  She had to leave him this week in order to go home and help with planting crops (rainy season/planting season has started).  His sister is now with him but he cries for his mother.  It's sad and highlights the difficult decisions mothers and fathers have to make here in Mali.  I can't imagine a mother back home leaving her child at the hospital in order to go plant crops.  But, no crops means no food for next year. 

Thank you to all of you who are able to give to our Koutiala Hospital cancer fund or our indigent fund which enables us to treat these patients and many more like them!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Soumaila, squamous cell carcinoma

It was sad to see this sweet boy go home. If we could have figured out how to make it so he still needed treatment, we would have kept him forever. 

He is so precious. He could repeat any English sentence you told him. (I've tried several times to upload some videos of this but it won't work.) He would always run errands for us. You could ask him where someone was and he knew. He was aware of all the comings and goings of people, whether that was staff or patients.

pumping up soccer balls with a visitor, Patrick

We talked to his father when he came to pick him up to make sure he would go to school. He is so bright we  didn't want him to be healed but not get an education. The father has promised to send him and we (several from the hospital) are committed to providing whatever he will need financially to go to school.

It is always bittersweet to see these kids go. Happy for their healing but sad for the void that is left at the hospital. Yet, more kids will come and fill in those gaps and steal our hearts, even when we think there could be no others as precious as the ones that leave.

Afternoon Drive

After the kids have stayed at the hospital for awhile, they start wanting to explore more places, ie our houses.  So they all hopped in the car with Brett to come visit. Brett called me to tell me to open the gate and as I opened our front door to walk outside I could hear chanting, "Sheri, Sheri, Sheri!"and I knew we had visitors. 

They were thrilled to see our house, except for the dogs. We had locked them up in the goat pen but they got out and all the kids freaked out. But aside from that this mishap, they all enjoyed seeing the toubab's house.

I love Adiara's face here. She's looking at our neighbor as if to say, "Why are you looking at me? Leave us alone. This is OUR car." :)

These are some of the special times we get to have living here. I don't think any US hospital would let us just drive off with 5 patients and two extra kids in the car, just because, especially since we didn't even ask their parents. :)

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Kadia (leukemia) is D.O.N.E.!!!!

 After two years of coming each month for a dose of Vincristine and a refill on her daily medications, she is finally ALL DONE! I cannot believe it has been over two years that we have treated this sweet girl.

She has really started to grow up, she's getting taller and looking really good. She will always be my girl. How can you not be head over heals in love with her?

On day of arrival and diagnosis
During her induction chemo, feeling awful

All done!
As you can see, the kiddos have eaten their fill of tootsie rolls and various other candies. They come to me daily for their candy ration. We maybe treating their cancer or various other aliments but we definitely aren't helping their teeth. :) (Honestly, though, Carol is a dental hygienist and she has worked on all the kids' teeth that have lived at the hospital for any period of time. They do all have tooth brushes now.)

I will miss seeing my little girl each month but oh so thankful that she is in remission and doing well!

Josué (Osteosarcoma) and Habi (Ovarian Burkitt's Lymphoma) finished treatment

In December (how can I be this late in posting??) Josué and Habi finished their chemo treatments. We celebrated with cake, their choice. They really did well and it is sad that they are no longer at the hospital, sad for us, good for them! :)

Habi was actually quite sad to leave us and didn't really want to go. I am thankful that despite their treatment, loads of shots and lumbar punctures that they come away knowing that they are loved and valued. In some ways, that is the best thing we can give them.

Our little party with Soumailla (Squamous cell skin cancer on his scalp) and Chaka (double amputee) and Jessica. Jessica and Kristen's office is the hang out spot for inpatient kids who are staying for long periods of time.

Josué at arrival
Finished with chemo, eating his celebratory cake :)

Josué being Josué. He was a silly kid. It definitely took time for him to warm up to me, but I think he did. He would joke with me all the time. :) I do think he came around. He is now back in his village walking on his prosthetic leg and doing well.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Koutiala Pediatric Sickle cell and Cancer Blog

Our current visitor and good friend pediatric hematologist-oncologist Alan Anderson has been updating his blog during the last 2 weeks here in Mali. There are some great pictures and updates about how our children with cancer and sickle cell are doing, as well as how we are screening more and more children for sickle cell to prevent early childhood death and disability. Be sure to check out this wonderful blog:

Adjara: Hodgkin's Lymphoma but responding great to chemo