Following his first cycle of chemotherapy for Burkitt’s lymphoma, Joseph’s* improved health is already visible. Joseph is able to receive care for his cancer through a collaboration between Direct Relief, the Burkitt’s Lymphoma Fund for Africa (BLFA), and the Shirati Health, Education, and Development (SHED) Foundation – which provides health services to communities near Lake Victoria in northwest Tanzania.
Burkitt’s lymphoma is characterized by a fast-growing tumor that often develops in the jaw or abdomen and can interfere with breathing as well as make it difficult for young patients to feed adequately, leading to malnutrition. While this type of cancer is rare in the United States, it is the most common childhood cancer in Africa and is responsible for 50 percent of cancer deaths for children in East African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The average age of a child with the disease is five.
But there is hope. The fast growth rate of the cancer makes it very responsive to chemotherapy. According to a leading cancer researcher, more than 85 percent of children with the disease could be cured for less than $600 a case.
The SHED Foundation is one of the several organizations working with BLFA, a Direct Relief partner organization focused on improving survival rates among children suffering from the disease. With generous donations of treatment medicines from Baxter and support from other health care companies, Direct Relief is able to provide BLFA with chemotherapy treatment and other necessary medicines and supplies to maintain treatment programs in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. This allows BLFA to allocate its funds elsewhere, allowing more patients like Joseph to receive this life-saving treatment.
*name has been changed for privacy