Wally Fraser from Fraser and Associates BlueStar and Sanlam arranged a ladies’ tea in support of the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) and the Theunis Fichardt Hospitium at the Pietersburg Club on Thursday.
Cindy Stoltz, whose eight-year-old daughter, McKaylin is a cancer survivor, delivered the keynote speech.
McKaylin was just four years old when she was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, an aggressive type of childhood cancer. Following 11 rounds of chemo, two total blood transfusions and 24 lumbar punctures as well as surgery; losing her job and having to leave her other daughter, then aged 18 months, for seven months while caring for McKaylin, Cindy can today look back at the time the family had to fight for her daughter’s life.
McKaylin was transferred to the Unitas Hospital in Pretoria in January 2012 after experiencing severe stomach pains. It was decided that she had to have surgery for intussusception and a piece of her small intestine had to be removed. Tests revealed to doctors she had Burkitt’s lymphoma. McKaylin had to undergo chemotherapy for seven day periods at a time, 24 hours a day. Later each day was a struggle, as the young patient developed internal sores in her mouth, intestines and bladder. It was a struggle to keep her alive seeing that she had to be fed intravenously as she could not eat or swallow or digest food. Her bladder functions failed. Once she was in a coma for five days.
“It is the most difficult, emotional and overwhelming experience when one’s child is diagnosed with cancer and one experiences shock, fear, anxiety, sorrow and loss of control. It is tragic and unfair,” Cindy told the audience.
She explained that vitamin supplements and food that would be classified as “good” could be harmful for cancer patients for it also feed the cancerous cells and side effects such as fatigue, nausea and chemo-brain may linger longer.
‘Chemo brain’ shows as unclear thoughts, impaired memory, long and short-term, and loss of soft motor skills. After the chemotherapy Cindy had to work on strengthening her daughter’s muscles again and teach her to hold a pencil. McKaylin took up horse-riding to strengthen her muscles.
Cindy advised others always to get a second opinion and carefully look at managing expenses. She said one looks at life differently after such an experience. “Life is too short not to be lived,” she says.