Oscar was 6 years old when his mother noticed a swelling on his tummy and took him to a traditional village doctor, who told them it was a disease of the spleen.
When the village doctor’s medicines did not make Oscar better, his family spent weeks consulting other local doctors about his condition but could not get any information on his illness. There is a lack of awareness of childhood cancer amongst healthcare professionals in Malawi and many are not able to recognise the signs and symptoms.
Oscar was eventually referred to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre - the centre for World Child Cancer's programme in Malawi. It was there that he was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour by Professor Molyneux and her team.
Oscar completed a nine week treatment protocol involving surgery and chemotherapy, successfully treating his cancer. He has been attending annual follow-ups at QECH and completed his 5-year follow-up! He has been able to enjoy a healthy, cancer-free childhood.
World Child Cancer is working to raise awareness of the early warning signs and symptoms of childhood cancer in Malawi so that children like Oscar have a greater chance at survival. Challenges remain in how communities seek health advice and referral pathways may not exist to ensure that children reach a hospital where they can receive appropriate treatment.