Earlier this year, we met one-year-old Likem on the day care unit at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH). As he wondered through the children gathered around the colouring table, he picked up various pencils inquisitively before settling on a bright yellow. To anyone entering the ward, Likem looked like any other one-year-old trying to join in with the other children.
We spoke to Likem’s mother Morowa and father Jojo to hear more about how they and their son came be on the paediatric oncology unit at KBTH in Accra;
“Likem was developing fast for his age before he became unwell. He has a twin brother and as they learned to walk, Likem seemed to develop quicker than his brother and loved to walk more and more as he grew more confident. When he was around one year and four months old, we visited family in the Eastern region of Ghana and it was here that the problems first began.”
Despite being more advanced than his brother at first, Likem soon stopped wanting to walk whilst his twin learnt to run.
“We could see he was in pain, even when we asked him to walk he wanted to sit down. When returning to Accra we visited a local hospital where they carried out many tests but we were eventually told nothing was wrong. We were told to improve his diet as that may have impacted his ability to walk but we sensed there was something more to it.”
As Likem’s condition showed no signs of improvement, Jojo took his son to a private hospital in the city for a second opinion. Despite the same tests being carried out by the healthcare workers, the results were very different.
“Likem had a brain tumour and we were immediately referred to KBTH. I was distraught to hear my child had cancer, especially after first being told that nothing was wrong.”
The family had to wait to weeks to save enough money to pay for treatment at the hospital. If treated early enough, childhood cancer can be cured so this lost time directly impacted Likem’s chances of survival but thankfully the team at KBTH were able to operate immediately.
Four months on from his operation and despite still receiving chemotherapy, Likem is back up and walking again. Kieran, Marketing and Communications Manager, met Likem when visiting Ghana during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month;
“I spent time teaching Likem to colour and he was excited to be walking amongst the other children on the ward. I sat with Morowa and Jojo to hear how they have been coping with their son’s cancer and the response was with great difficulty. Despite Likem getting better, the costs have been crippling for the family in terms of travelling to hospital, paying for treatment and even accommodation.”
Likem is one of many children that are being cared for at the day care. You can help support Likem and others by donating today.
“The whole team; doctors, nurses, play workers and staff have been so wonderful and helped make our stay be as comfortable as possible. When being told of Likem’s cancer I did not think I would see him smile again but now cannot wait to see him playing with his brother at home again”.