Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Give young Abian Ntshabele a Christmas to remember

As the curtain falls on yet another year we all reflect and remember our trials, tribulations and triumphs. We celebrate moments that brought us joy. We also appreciate the not so great moments for they have made us stronger. With a new year comes renewed hope and new beginnings. But for some of us that renewed hope, good as it sounds, seems too far-fetched an idea.

Our destiny lies not in our own hands but in the hands of the many kind and generous hearts of Good Samaritans out there. It also lies in the best that the medical world can possibly offer.
Beautiful 14-year-old Abian Ntshabele from Mochudi is one such unlucky angel. At the beginning of 2014, when most were still drawing up their new year’s resolutions, the little girl received perhaps the worst possible news imaginable. She was diagnosed with metastatic Immature Teratoma, a rare form of cancer.

“She grew up a very healthy girl and never really had any health issues until 11 January this year (2014),” recalls her mother, Lerato Ntshabele. “We noticed that her belly was a bit distended although she didn’t complain of any pain.”

Lerato says they took Abian to the doctor who suggested some blood tests. He also recommended a pregnancy test just to rule everything else out and the tests did not detect any anomalies.
“Abian presented to the paediatric haematology-oncology team at Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) on Jan 13, 2014 with a very large abdominal-pelvic mass (23 x 16 x 11 cm cystic and solid mass with areas of calcification and adipose tissue). The liver, uterus and left ovary appeared normal. The alpha-feto protein (AFP) was 297 (normal 0-13) and B-HCG was normal,” says a report from Dr Jeremy Slone, Princess Marina Hospital.

“We further went for ultra sound and CT scan at Bokamoso (Hospital) and the report came back as a rare form of ovarian cancer called Immature Teratoma,” Lerato says. “A CT scan and ultrasound revealed a 2×2 cm hernia and 9.7 x 5 cm right adnexa mass. The AFP increased to 225. Prof Kumar took Abian back to the theatre in April to correct the hernia. The herniating tissue removed was also consistent with an immature Teratoma,” Slone says.

Lerato says there was a solid mass and cyst on the right ovary. The condition affects teenagers (both boys and girls). “I didn’t know where to start and who was going to do the operation and how much it would cost,” she says. “Abian wasn’t under any medical aid so I was a cash customer. Her doctor discussed it with Dr Slone and I went to meet up with the team to present her case.” She says they were referred to a pediatric surgeon on the 13 January where Abian was admitted the same day and the operation was done two days later. “She recovered from the operation and everything seemed normal and she was back at school (Raserura English Medium in Mochudi),” she says. “But the tumors came back again.”

Lerato says the Doctors then decided to give her four cycles of chemotherapy and it got even worse as the tumors got even bigger following the second cycle. “She was missing out a lot at school though she was adamant that she wanted to sit for her PSLE exams.” Abian missed out on her Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). “I had to take care of her on a full time basis with constant visits to hospitals, and sleepless nights researching about her condition and how she can get the best chance of survival. We also had a full support of family and friends,” Lerato says.

She says Abian was sent back to theatre on January 30, 2014 and doctors said there was nothing they could do.

The doctors have given Abian only a few months to live if she does not get the required medical assistance.

The costs for her surgery (to be carried out in China), including transport and accommodation, add up to more than P400 000. Lerato has had to sell her house to help pay the medical bills in the UK where her daughter is currently receiving treatment. Abian is her only child.
Lerato’s mother is also in the UK to give them necessary support.

A once very athletic young woman with a few medals under her belt, Abian now spends most of her time on a wheelchair because she can’t carry the weight of the tumor. There is also not enough blood circulation in her legs. Her back is strained by the weight. “She can’t stand for more than 12 minutes,” Lerato says. Despite all this she says her daughter remains strong and hopeful.

“She said to me ‘mommy don’t stress too much someone will come with a plan to sort me out, there is too much technology in the world’.”

Abian enjoyed playing netball, basketball, athletics and modeling. She also loves cooking. Should they fail to raise the necessary funds to finance her treatment Abian’s hobbies and aspirations will remain but a dream. At worst, a 14 year old very promising life will be cut short and a nation would yet again have failed to protect and secure a crucial part of its future.

Abian’s situation is not hopeless and with a reasonable amount of compassion from each one of us, a young life can be saved. She just celebrated her 14th birthday on the 1st of December and with our contributions she can go on to celebrate her 15th come December 2015, and many more birthdays. She is currently in London, Nottingham University Hospital where she is receiving medical attention.

To give beautiful Abian something to celebrate this festive season and possibly the kiss-of-life she so deserves, donate whatever you can to her FNB acc # 62263884291 Main Branch (Botswana); Or the UK bank account details- HSBC Bank, Acc 42013940, sort code 400917. Both accounts are in her name her name. Her mother,Lerato’s contacts are +447529524944. Locally (Botswana) one can contact Banabotlhe Ntshabele at 71879168. Merry Christmas and a healthy new year!

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