Saida is 8 years old and is in Primary 2 at school (elementary school). The doctor described her journey so far as ‘a huge battle’. When Saida was first taken for medical assessment last year, her underlying health condition was not recognised, and instead she initially received treatment for tuberculosis (TB), delaying correct diagnosis and treatment.

After she continued to worsen despite the TB intervention, she was given an incision biopsy in January of this year. This enabled the pathology lab to confirm a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a cancer of part of the immune system). 

Because of the delay in receiving a diagnosis, by the time she was seen, the hidden cancer in her chest, had also spread to her neck. She was started on a regime of IV chemotherapy.

The chemo cycle has two parts, of doses given on days 1 and 15. Each cycle is 4 weeks apart.

For each cycle, Saida comes into the hospital for several days to get her bloodwork checked the day before the treatment, and then is kept in for a day after the chemotherapy to monitor her response.

Luckily for Saida, her family live close by, so she is able to return home after each hospital stay.

She has just finished her last cycle of chemo and the doctors are pleased with the response. Although the mass in her chest remains, the mass on her neck has completely subsided.

The doctors are now assessing her reviewing her case to determine if the next step should be radiotherapy or second line therapies.

Although Saida was at first quite quiet when she first came for treatment, she has been recovering so well, the doctors said she was now usually the calmest and happiest person on the ward.

Saida’s grandmother described how although this year her education had suffered because of her illness and treatment regime, until this point she had been among the top of her class at school, and had won a prize the previous year. Her favourite subjects were math and writing and she enjoyed playing dodgeball with her friends. She’d slipped this year because she’d had to spend so much time in hospital. But that she couldn’t wait to get back to school and catch up. 

Saida told us she hadn’t yet decided what she would be when she was older, but had narrowed it down to either a teacher, a doctor or a policewoman. The doctor laughed when she heard this, saying that certainly Saida was getting in good practice bossing them about.