Meet Sam, a gorgeous Hawke’s Bay 9 year old boy full of life. You may have seen his story, unfortunately Sam has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Sam needs treatment at Starship Hospital for the next 3 years. What is worse is that Sam’s Dad, Derek, has undergone treatment for male breast cancer in 1995 and 2009 and his Mum, Helen, was also diagnosed and fought breast cancer 2½ years ago. Sam has 2 siblings who have had most of their childhood memories linked in some way to cancer.
Sam’s story has really touched our hearts. To raise funds to support the family with the cost of travel, time off work and create some happy family memories, Ahuriri Pharmacy is hosting a Carnival Fun Day. Bring your kids and grandies to a day of fun, games, crafts and food to help Sam. Mark the date in your diary, Wednesday 30 September, 10-4pm. All through September, we have pledged to give the family 2% of shop sales and will be selling raffle tickets to win a fabulous children’s gift hamper. Shop now to buy tokens. Alternatively, click to donate to the family directly if you prefer.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells which continuously multiply, stopping the production of normal red and white blood cells and platelets. It is most common in children and symptoms include feeling weak and tired, shortness of breath on exertion, anaemia, joint or bone pains. Some children will also have signs of bleeding, bruising and nosebleeds. As with many cancers, the cause is unknown and not hereditary. The two main treatments for ALL are chemotherapy and a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. With treatment, ~90% of patients recover. Read more about ALL.
The tragedy for Sam’s family is all too common now with most people being touched by the effects of cancer in some way or another. The cause and prevention of cancers is often unknown but studies have shown that a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk. Here’s a quick checklist for optimal health:
- Don’t smoke
- Be physically active
- Eat a healthy diet full of fruit, veges, whole grains and lean meats
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants such as red grapes, berries, apples and avocados
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Manage your stress
- Slip, slop, slap in the sun
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Know your family health history
- Book for a yearly check-up with your doctor
Early detection is the key to survival. Regular check-ups with your doctor and screening tests are important but self-examination is vital in between times. Check breasts and armpits for lumps or thickenings; watch for changes in skin colours and texture or bleeding from the breast or from freckles or moles. It is important to talk to your doctor if you notice any of these changes.
Screening tests are used to try and detect diseases in healthy people, before symptoms develop. They are often used to decide whether a person is at risk of cancer. In New Zealand, screening tests are run through the National Screening Unit and includes breast and cervical screening. The free national breast screening programme checks women between 45 and 69 years of age. The National Cervical Screening Programme is available to all women between 20 and 70 years old. There is a suggestion that bowel cancer screening may become widely available soon too. Your doctor may also suggest tests for prostate and skin cancer.