The following is the story of Chereez Nel – a little 4 year old girl’s condition as well as her treatment forward.
“The story starts when Chereez started complaining about pain in her cheek. We saw slight swelling in her right cheek and decided to take her to the Doctor right away. The Doctor examined her and saw a small hole inside her ear. He then contacted another Doctor and decided that she probably has water in her ear which caused an infection. She was then put on a six week course of strong antibiotics.
After the antibiotic course was finished the swelling still continued, so we then took her to an ear, nose and throat specialist.
Dr Khan from Sunward Park hospital, was also not sure what the reason for the swelling might be, and decided to send Chereez for a CT scan. The results of the CT scan came back and that’s when our lives were thrown upside down… he informed us that Chereez has a tumour next to her brain.
Biopsies of the tumour were done immediately and this was followed by more bad news!! Not only is the tumour cancerous, but also an aggressive cancer that is quickly spreading from her head to her face.
We where then referred to Dr Kate Bennett from Donald Gordon Medical centre where they specialise in cancer patients.
There we were further informed that Chereez has undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma cancer stage 3. This also meant that our South African laboratories are unable to identify the type of sarcoma cancer Chereez has and that they also had to send away some of the biopsy samples to Switzerland, to help see if they can help us by identifying the exact type of cancer Chereez has.
Next they continued by doing MRI, bone marrow and CT scans of the rest of her body and with big relief the tests came back negative, and it was confirmed that the cancer hasn’t spread anywhere else in her body.
Chereez then went in for a small operation where they inserted the chemotherapy stent, for her to receive chemo through it. The way forward when we started chemo was 10 weeks chemo then operation to remove the tumour. After the operation Chereez would receive radiation therapy and then another 6 months of chemo.
However the way forward changed after another MRI scan was done and we were informed that the cancer have penetrated the skull.
Chereez’s case was presented at the Morningside Head and Neck tumour board. The board decided not to go through with surgery, as this is a complicated surgery with a lot of complications during and after, and more surgeries required in the future. They would not be able to entirely remove the tumour due to the involvement of the skull base. Surgery would also require splitting the jaw bone in two to remove everything and implanting a piece of bone from her leg with a plate in her jaw. The decision was then made to continue chemo and start radiation.
Regarding the chemo and radiation, aggressive chemo will continue. There are two types of radiation therapy Chereez can receive; the first therapy is called IMRT therapy and the second is Proton therapy. Both these therapies have side effects that includes visual problems, growth retardation, hearing loss and more, only naming a few. The major difference between the two therapies are that proton therapy spares more of the healthy surrounding tissues and limits the side effects that especially young children would experience. The chances of Chereez needing reconstruction surgery to her face in the future are also reduced if she receives Proton therapy.
Chereez is only 4 years old and thus the risk of side effects is very high. On the attached “updated letter” the doctor explains a little more in detail regarding IMRT and Proton therapy. Proton therapy unfortunately is only available in the USA with costs to be estimated between $200 000 and $300 000. This excludes any accommodation, living and travel expenses or more chemo therapy that might be needed when in the USA.
The chances of Chereez needing reconstruction surgery to her face in the future are also reduced if she receives Proton thereapy.
On the attached “updated letter” the doctor also explains that children with undifferentiated sarcoma who undergo multimodality therapy have a 50% chance of survival.
With all off the above said and everything explained in the doctors letter we as parents are opting for Proton therapy to reduce the side effect and impact the radiation therapy will have on our little super girl Chereez’s life. We will give our absolute all in giving Chereez the best treatment the world has to offer and better chances of having a full and normal life.
We were blessed to have been approached by an individual that was following Chereez facebook page. He offered to borrow us the outstanding amount of R2.2Milion with the condition that we pay it back with ongoing fundraisers and donation. Our USA trip was made possible in August the 31st 2018 and Chereez had the privilege to receive 2 months of treatment she desperately required.
6 Weeks after we returned back to South Africa, test were done and got the best news ever, the 13th of December 2018 she is Cancer FREE. She does how ever need to receive Maintenance chemo for the next 6 months, additional test will be run and dr’s will be keeping a close eye on her for any abnormalities for the next 20 years .
Although Chereez’s story is positive at this point, our family still needs to pay R2.2Mil back to the donor who made the USA trip and treatment possible.
If there is anyone that would like to make a donation that will be paid towards USA Treatment DEBT, we have opened a no profitable fund in Chereez’s name. (Little fighter Chereez Nel).Little fighter Chereez Nel Bank Account
You are welcome to contact her dad Pieter G Nel on 0725858334. You are also welcome to follow Chereez’s face book page – Little Fighter Chereez Nel– to keep up to date with her progress.” – Pieter and Angelique Nel
“Always keep your sparkle and cherish the hope that you have, remember that even the darkest clouds have a silver lining.”
Fundraising for Chereez Nel
Sparkling Bracelets for Chereez; consisting of silver and gold wooden beads – with a Love, and Hope-Awareness Ribbon with silver beads.
I Survived Sarcoma Cancer Bracelets for Chereez; consisting of sunshine yellow wooden beads with crystals – and a cross, a letter “C”, or Bible charm.
“Faith it till you make it.”