Health

A single father taking care of a child with cancer


For half a year, Vang A Dinh, 25, has been taking care of his 5-year-old son Vang A Que at the hospital, undergoing cancer treatment, even though he had Covid-19 at one point.

On the evening of March 7, Dinh and his son were transferred from the National Children’s Hospital to the isolation area for treatment at Dien Bien Provincial General Hospital, due to Covid-19. He is weak, has a headache, sore throat, runny nose and a little fever, sometimes coughs and sore throat, but still tries to take care of the child.

“I was afraid that I would spread the virus to my child, but the family had no one left, his health was too weak, so I stayed to take care of him,” he shared.

Baby Que has burkitt lymphoma – a form of lymphoma, and is undergoing chemotherapy. A few days after being transferred to a provincial hospital, the baby contracted Covid-19 from his father. Mr. A Dinh said, since the illness, the baby was thin, timid, did not speak or smile. After many rounds of chemotherapy at the National Children’s Hospital, the baby became much weaker.

On the morning of March 13, while being treated, the baby’s condition worsened, leukopenia, high fever. Right in the night, the doctors had to transfer the baby to the National Children’s Hospital for emergency. A Dinh is worried about his son from afar.

Baby Vang A Que is being treated at the National Children’s Hospital. Photo: Characters provided

Vang A Que is the third child in the family. In August 2021, while bathing the baby, the family discovered a tumor on the left cheek, slightly swollen. At that time, I was still eating and playing normally. Two weeks later, the tumor was getting bigger and bigger, swollen cheeks, Mr. Dinh took his son to the district health station, the doctor gave him medicine to drink.

In the next two weeks, the baby took the medicine and did not reduce it. The tumor was getting bigger and bigger, almost the size of a grapefruit, losing the facial aesthetics. Baby begins to have difficulty in eating, talking. Mr. A Dinh took the child to the provincial hospital, then transferred to the National Children’s Hospital. Doctors diagnosed the child with burkitt lymphoma, the fastest-growing tumor in humans, the risk of compressing the airways, damaging the immune system and the patient will quickly die if not treated. “I was so desperate at the time,” he recalls in September 2021.

His family has 4 children, living in a house of 32 square meters. The first child was born about a month ago when he had severe encephalitis and pneumonia. After being treated at a provincial hospital, the baby could not walk, eat or drink by himself. His wife, Giang Thi Chinh, had to stay at home to look after the children.

A Dinh went to work alone to take care of food and money. Working hard but earning not much, in 2021, he decided to work as a hired worker in Hai Phong, 5 months later, A Que became ill. He quit his job to take care of his children. The family did not have money, so they had to borrow money from their brothers and sisters with the contribution of 20 million VND.

“My wife and I told ourselves that even though we are poor, we still have to work hard to get money to treat our children. Seeing the child’s face deformed, day by day, unable to eat or speak, my heart aches,” he said.

Mr. A Dinh stayed at the National Children’s Hospital with his child from September 2021 to March. After the surgery, the tumor on the baby’s face was gone. The baby received chemotherapy every three weeks, due to poor response, the body was weak, tired, vomiting a lot, vomiting blood. The baby cannot walk, run, jump, can only sit, or lie down.

In March, he contracted Covid-19, still had to stay with his children and never leave. After chemotherapy, the baby got an infection, which had to be delayed. The hospital decided to transfer the father and son to the isolation area, the provincial General Hospital for treatment.

Doctor Pham Thi Hong, Department of Oncology, National Children’s Hospital, said the cause of burkitt lymphoma is not clear. Scientists have suggested a number of high risk factors leading to lymphoma such as gene damage, infection, immunity such as innate immunity or HIV/AIDS, after organ transplantation…; autoimmune diseases; environment such as pesticides, dioxins, radiation…

Symptoms vary depending on the type of disease, in which 60% of patients have enlarged and painless lymph nodes, usually appearing in the neck, supraclavicular fossa, axillary, inguinal, mediastinal and abdominal lymph nodes may be encountered. These nodes increase in size rapidly, the proliferating tumor can double in size within 18 hours.

After each chemical infusion, baby A Que’s health deteriorated seriously, got an infection, had to receive antibiotics, anti-fungal… for at least two weeks. The treatment process was interrupted, once the baby had to postpone chemotherapy for up to two months, the resistance was much worse, the nutrition was also poor, had to put a feeding tube. According to Dr. Hong, the delay will certainly affect health, but it is not possible to assess the risk, possibly more relapse. If the patient’s lymphadenopathy returns or appears, fever, weight loss, etc., immediate re-examination is required. The baby still needs to be treated for at least 4-5 months.

The day the child became seriously ill and had to be transferred to the National Children’s Hospital was also the day Vang A Dinh prepared to take the last Covid test to end the isolation. He shared: “I hope to recover from Covid-19 so that I can be there to take care of my children and take care of them until I can’t,” he said.

With the goal of igniting the faith of children with cancer, the Hope Foundation cooperates with the Mr. Sun program to launch the Sun of Hope program. One more of your cooperation is another ray of light to the future generations of the country. Please see information about the program here.

Thuy Quynh

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