Keren is a 5-year-old girl from Southfield in Cape Town whose sweet and friendly personality captivates the hearts of everyone she meets. She’s the apple of her parents’ eye and they love her dearly.
In 2017, Keren fell ill and her concerned mother took her to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed her with an ear infection but subsequent tests revealed that she had a condition called Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s palsy is the paralysis of the facial nerve, causing muscular weakness in one side of the face. Despite treatment, Keren’s symptoms did not improve and her mother decided to take her to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. The worried mom could not stand to see her daughter in pain for another minute.
After several tests, Keren was finally diagnosed with DIPG cancer (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma cancer). Her shocked mother could barely take it all in. This type of tumour usually develops at the base of the brain. It is an aggressive type of cancer and extremely difficult to treat. Symptoms include double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, drooping of one side of the face, and difficulty chewing and swallowing. Sadly, the prognosis for DIPG is very poor and a child today has the same chances of survival than a child diagnosed with it 40 years ago.
Keren has received radiology treatment at the Groot Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. The treatment allowed the tumour to temporarily shrink. Unfortunately, her condition is critical as the tumour is on the brainstem. Doctors are doing their very best to maintain Keren’s condition and to curtail further growth of the tumour.
Keren’s cancer diagnosis was earth shattering to her mother and the family. Having a simple ear infection that turned out to be something life threatening has turned their lives upside down. Her mother says that the support of the hospital helped their family tremendously. She says: “The doctors did not play around and gave us the privacy to deal with the news.”
Keren is currently an outpatient at the Oncology Ward at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Her mother and the medical staff are always vigilant to ensure that Keren’s condition is closely managed. For this family, the journey continues. The fight against cancer is a long one which they hope to overcome. They want nothing more than to have their gorgeous little girl back, healthy and running around, like little girls should.