Tiwa's story

  • Tiwa and her mother Krista with families staying at the We Care family support home

When two-year-old Tiwa lost her appetite and her stomach started to swell, her mother, Krista, took her to the local hospital in their home town of Yaoundé in Cameroon. They were told Tiwa would need an ultrasound scan but like many families in developing countries, Krista and her family simply could not afford to pay for it so returned home with no treatment or diagnosis.

Week’s passed and Tiwa’s condition worsened so Krista was forced to borrow money from her mother to pay for the diagnostic scan. They were told Tiwa had a cancerous tumour near her kidney.

I felt scared and upset about her diagnosis. I had only heard about childhood cancer in the movies and on TV. It never occurred to me that my daughter could get it.

Due to a low awareness of childhood cancer in Cameroon, friends and family told Krista her daughter’s cancer was incurable and caused by witchcraft.

I felt very alone, with no way of helping my daughter.

The family was told about a hospital in Mbingo where children with cancer are treated for free. Soon after, Tiwa and her mother made the 10-hour journey to Mbingo Baptist Hospital where they met Dr Francine Kouya. Tiwa’s diagnosis was confirmed as neuroblastoma and Dr Francine reassured Krista of its curability with the right treatment and care. To confirm the staging of the tumour, Tiwa needed a CT scan. This meant travelling back 200 miles to Yaoundé to the nearest facility with a CT scanner. Dr Francine stressed the importance of returning to Mbingo as soon as possible to start Tiwa’s treatment.

Tiwa and her mother returned to Mbingo days after the scan and she received four rounds of chemotherapy. During her treatment, Tiwa and Krista stayed at the ‘We Care’ Parents Support Home which is funded by World Child Cancer.

I was concerned about the cost of traveling back and forth to Yaoundé in addition to paying for yet another scan. Without the financial support from World Child Cancer, I don’t know what we would have done.

World Child Cancer supports some of the most vulnerable and poorest families in the world. The ‘We Care’ family support home was opened earlier this year and has been home to 168 families so far in 2017. Donate today to support children like Tiwa get faster access to better treatment.