Muhamed is 18 years old and recently finished his Advance-level studies (high school) with exceptionally good scores that rank him as one of the top students in Uganda. What is even more incredible is that this young man is undergoing treatment for cancer which he has been fighting since he was in primary 6 (grade school).
“I have 7 brothers and 6 sisters. I first noticed pain in my right ankle in 2013, which I managed with painkillers. I sought medical care due to the pain and swelling and it continued to get worse, so I finally went into hospital. My mother sold charcoal in order for me to get further treatment and also borrowed some money from friends to meet the costs of staying at the hospital. A biopsy was taken, and it confirmed I had liposarcoma cancer.”
Muhamed’s initial treatment was unsuccessful and in 2021 he was referred to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). He arrived with some books and clothes and the first night he slept on the verandah at UCI before being referred to New Hope Children’s Hostel.
“My mother stayed with me at the hostel during my chemotherapy. I was able to study for my exams in the nurses’ room. Once I had a great improvement in my leg my mother requested to go home as she was the breadwinner and needed to care for my siblings.
I am very grateful for all the support I have been given not only the New Hope Hostel but my school and the staff. I am still having chemotherapy treatment, but I have a dream of pursuing a degree in telecommunication engineering. There are still challenges ahead but I am grateful that I now have a future.”
Cancer does not discriminate, but access to treatment for children with cancer from poor rural communities does, as the families often cannot afford the accommodation, transport and food during the child’s treatment. This is why the staff at Kawempe are so passionate about helping children with cancer. Kawempe’s person-centered care not only focuses on physical care but also support to minimize the person’s emotional and spiritual distress and maximize their comfort and well-being. Services include meals, transport to hospitals, play therapy, music therapy, counselling and legal aid. New Hope Children’s Hostel has capacity of 30 beds for pediatric patients and their families while they undergo treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute.