A baby girl simply identified as Bibian who started menstruating at the age of four months has survived sex cord-stromal tumors, described by doctors as ‘rare ovarian cancer.’
Phaustine Andeso, the mother of the baby, narrated how it all happened to Standard Media at their Likuyani home in Kakamega County, Kenya on Thursday.
Andeso said the baby was born on April 16, 2019.
She said Bibian was born weighing 4.2kg and looked healthy but began to develop acne (pimples), her breasts also enlarged, and also developed pubic hair at four months.
About a month after the symptoms appeared, the baby started bleeding from her vagina. “The bleeding lasted five days,” Andeso says.
By this time, all manner of questions were swirling in the new mother’s head.
She took her daughter to the hospital. At the time, her family lived in Kitengela, Kajiado County.
“She was treated for a blood infection. She was given antibiotics,” Andeso says.
However, the situation got worse as the baby had an ultrasound which showed that her abdomen was filled with fluids.
The baby was then referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, on December 26, 2019, where she was admitted and a fresh round of tests and scans were ordered.
“Around 10 am on January 7, 2020, we were in the ward when I saw many doctors come in. One of them – their leader – called out my name and I responded.
“He then explained that Bibian had a growth in her reproductive system. It was the growth that was producing fluids. He recommended surgery immediately.
“My heart sank. I feared that she wouldn’t make it through surgery,” the mother stated.
The lead doctor was Elly Odongo, an obstetrician and gynaecologist and the head of gynaecological oncology at MTRH.
Dr. Odongo said “Bibian’s case was brought to my attention in early 2020. From tests, the girl had a type of ovarian cancer known as sex cord-stromal tumour.”
Bibian’s cancer was at stage 2 when she was taken to MTRH. Odongo, however, advised parents of young girls to be on the lookout for symptoms that mimic puberty.
“Cancer? Of the ovaries? In a baby? I thought this disease only affects women of reproductive age,” Bibian’s mother asked.
Dr. Odongo told Bibian’s mother that the tumour was functional, meaning, it was producing hormones – oestrogen and testosterone; noting that it was the reason the baby presented with symptoms of a child entering puberty.
“The blood she was shedding is equivalent to menstruation in a woman of reproductive age. Of course, in an eight-month-old, this means something is wrong,” Odongo says.
The following day, Odongo and his team operated on Bibian and removed the tumours. The surgery was followed by chemotherapy – which Andeso said was brutal on Baby Bibian.
Now at age two years and five months, Bibian has been declared cancer-free. She, however, needs immune boosters and multivitamin supplements to help her fight common infections as chemotherapy has affected her immunity.
Andeso stated that her daughter’s battle with cancer has cost her friendships, her (old) job, peace of mind, and, worst of all, her marriage.
But despite all that happened Bibian is leading in ovarian cancer awareness.