Young teacher battles bone cancer
Stabroek News
April 4, 2004

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Robina Baksh has been battling cancer for the past year.

Diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in February last year,the 22-year-old has already undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments in Trinidad and Tobago, which have not produced the expected results.

However, she remains positive, focused and hopeful that future treatment will prove more successful. She hopes to undergo an evaluation shortly at the M D Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, USA. A fee of US$2500 is required. After the evaluation she would then be told exactly what can be done in terms of cost and time.

Ewing's sarcoma/Peri-pheral Primitive Neuro-ectodermal Tumours (PNET) of bone is a type of cancer usually found in children and young adults. The peak incidence is between ages 10 and 20; it is less common in children under 5 or in adults over 30. Ewing's can occur in any bone in the body; the most common sites, however, are the pelvis, thigh, lower leg, upper arm, and rib. The tumour is composed of small round blue cells. Ewing's sarcoma can also arise in soft tissue (extra-skeletal). It is said to be 67% treatable.

Baksh who is Muslim by faith was a student of President's College from where she graduated with six grade ones and three grade twos at CXC. She went on to attend the Cyril Potter College of Education where she excelled, graduating with the Best Overall Graduating Student Award as well as the Best Graduating Primary School Teacher Prize. Robina Baksh today

After graduation Baksh began teaching at St Mary's Primary at Soesdyke. It was during her first term of teaching that she began to experience pain in her foot. In December 2002 it worsened and she began receiving treatment for a muscle strain at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). She was at GPHC from December 2002 to February 2003 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Baksh said the disease affected her in the pelvic region of her body. She has been to Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) for chemotherapy and radiotherapy where Dr William Dhanessar treated her. She was put in contact with him through an organization called Consolidated Medical Management. During her treatment in T&T she was accommodated at the Living Waters Hospice, a charitable organization based on the island.

However, the treatment was unsuccessful. Baksh said since completing the therapy her condition has deteriorated and the pain has increased, keeping her from walking, and though she can sit up she feels discomfort.

Before being diagnosed with cancer Baksh had been an active community leader taking part in such activities as the President's Youth Choice Initiative. She was a Bronze Medallist for the President's Youth Award Programme.

Through this programme she was able to attend youth leadership training at the School of the Nations. And in 2001 she helped to form the Soesdyke Youth Can Move the World Club. She was also a part of the National Coordinating Committee for Global Youth through Guybernet.

As a Project Coordinator with the President's Youth Choice Initiative her efforts were rewarded with the construction of a Youth Centre in Soesdyke focusing on the development of youths. The centre is now being equipped with sewing machines and computers.

She says she receives tremendous support from her mother, father, five sisters, two brothers and 19 nieces and nephews. Her family has also put up two of their house lots for sale to help in the funding of her treatment.

Baksh is eager to be treated so she can get back into teaching, counselling of children with respect to their welfare, education and psychology. Later in her life she is hoping to become an Ambassador of Guyana.

In order to raise funds for her evaluation and further treatment 'Friends of Robina Baksh' have planned a telethon for Tuesday at 9 pm on NCN 11.

The show will initially be run for three hours. Organiser of the programme, Neaz Subhan, has enlisted the help of Michelle Abrams, Annalisa Bahadur and Ron Robinson. It is hoped that Avery Gomes would come on board to assist in hosting it.

Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy has also pledged support, and should be putting in an appearance on the telethon. An account to assist Robina Baksh is located at the Bank of Nova Scotia under account #267068.