The loving father’s voice is laden with emotion as he says: “I wish I can take her illness and put it in my pocket so that she can be healthy. She’s so young, only 7 years old.”
Monalisa and her family are originally from the Eastern Cape but had moved to Cape Town in search of a better life. She had always been a happy and loving child who enjoyed playing outside with friends. After playing one day she returned home with a splitting headache. When the headache refused to go away, her father asked her teacher if Monalisa had any issues with her schoolwork as he thought that this might be the cause. He was a general assistant at the school and the teacher assured him that there were no problems whatsoever. The concerned parents took her to a doctor without delay.
Despite medication and several doctors’ visits, the pain persisted. In January 2018 Monalisa got very ill and suffered several seizures, much to her parents’ dismay. The doctor referred her to Eerste River Day Hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This news hit her parents hard as they had never expected to hear something like this. “This was a new thing for me,” her father tells us.
Monalisa was referred to Red Cross Children’s Hospital where various tests were performed. It was discovered that the tumour was growing on the right side of her brain and this inadvertently affected the right side of her body. It suddenly made sense to her parents why she had become so fearful to walk alone and always asked her mom to hold her hand while walking to school. Her father also suspected that her eyesight might be affected.
Doctors are currently treating the tumour with chemotherapy in the hope that it will shrink so that surgery can hopefully be avoided. Monalisa is being carefully monitored and her parents were advised to avoid using public transport and to stay away from anything that will hinder her recovery process and have a negative impact on her low immune system. Her dad is very happy that she is receiving the help that she needs at Red Cross Children’s Hospital but has a word of caution for other parents: “When your child complains that he or she is sick, or has a headache, the first step is to pay attention. Do not ignore them and act immediately.”