The Wonder Women of CHOC

Wonder Women of CHOC

The Wonder Women of CHOC

March is an iconic month in the ongoing global campaign for gender equality and recognition of the important contributions that women make to society. CHOC is honoured to have some incredible women on board who help drive the organisation forward through their various roles, their dedication to our cause, and their passion for helping others.

We interviewed 4 ladies from our team who shared some insight into what led them to work for CHOC, the impact they believe CHOC makes in the lives of children and teens with cancer and their families, and their hopes for CHOC for the future.

Wonder Women of CHOC

 

Adri Ludick Interim Team Leader

Adri Ludick Interim Team Leader | Women of CHOCWe are so thankful for all of our volunteers and words cannot describe our appreciation for them for the work that they do.

I have been privileged to serve CHOC for more than 20 years. First as a volunteer and then also as a staff member. To serve the children and families is a deep felt honor. Last year, I spent a month in Bloemfontein and during the winter I handed out blankets and food to the families. I was deeply touched by a mother who thanked CHOC on her return visit. I had a lump in my throat when she said that, for the first time in months, she and her children slept warmly. And I knew that it is this type of overall support that CHOC offers that truly makes a difference.

What does a typical day at CHOC look like for you?

My typical day as a staff member is to do everything in my power to ensure that CHOC is able to provide an excellent service to all the children and teens with cancer in SA and our neighboring countries. I am driven to ensure that communities are not bound by myths and beliefs that lead to the stigma of childhood cancer, and that every child and teen has access to specialised treatment, essential medicine and care.

Why is volunteering such a vital part of CHOC?

CHOC was started by volunteers and for many years it was the volunteers who kept the ship sailing. Through the years, we have grown to where we are today with a staff compliment of over 80; however, we can never deny the unbelievable contribution of the volunteers. The ward and house volunteers touch the lives of children and teens in a profound way that we, as staff, could never do. They put smiles on the faces of the children and have fun with them. The Board and regional committee members, also as volunteers, are the custodians of the organisation and ensure that we stay within our strategic focus and provide services of excellence. We are so thankful for all of our volunteers and words cannot describe our appreciation for them for the work that they do.

What do you feel is CHOC’s most important role in supporting children with cancer and their loved ones?

CHOC touches the emotional, spiritual, physical and practical aspects of life. Our social workers play a huge role in the lives of the patients and parents. They are there to break the bad news, but also there to celebrate the end of treatment and healing. Sadly, they are also there when a child dies and knows how to support the families during the time of mourning.

What do you feel has been CHOC’s greatest success so far?

We touched so many lives in the past 40+ years. We have seen children and families come and go and then we have those families who never leave CHOC, but who became part of the childhood cancer family. The way that they give back and support the children really touches my heart. We also deliver a sustainable comprehensive service. We don’t discriminate against any child, but ensure that we deliver equitable service to all children with cancer in SA; including our children from sub-Saharan African countries who come for treatment in SA.

What do you want to see achieved by CHOC in the years to come?

To be in line with the Global Initiative of Childhood Cancer that the survival rate of childhood cancer will be 60% by 2030. We can achieve this by continuing to do everything possible to raise awareness about childhood cancer and to not leave any child behind. 

Lynne Gadd-Claxton – PE Branch Manager

Lynne Gadd-Claxton – PE Branch Manager | Women of CHOCWe make a difference every day – even in the darkest of moments, when it seems like we aren’t. That is what motivates me – we are giving hope to families!

How does CHOC benefit the patients/children with cancer and their relatives?

I think we take for granted how much we impact a family. I have had families come to me afterwards thanking me for something as small as a bar of soap, a sandwich with the tea mornings at the paediatric oncology clinic, a smile and a hug (when we were still allowed). We are there for a parent when they feel isolated from their loved ones back home. We become their CHOC family, we are their sisters in arms to support them through a very difficult time. We are there for them through the tears, the laughter, the losses and the victories. We are there holding their hands for as long as they need us to. Sometimes our links with their families last long after their child’s treatment has ended. The CHOC family is always there for them. 

What motivates you to work at CHOC?

I have worked in the non-profit space for several years. I was led to apply for a position at CHOC after I lost my best friend to cancer. I walked around with the newspaper clipping from the advert for a week before I applied. I needed to be certain that this is where God wanted me to be. I had lost family to cancer before, but nothing that had affected me as much as when my best friend lost the battle. I had seen how her family came together, supported her and how we as friends rallied to support them. I still visit her parents regularly – holding on to a piece of her. I feel that at CHOC I am continuing the fight, for her, for everyone battling cancer and life-threatening blood disorders. I realised that I can make a meaningful impact in the lives of children with cancer and their families. I will never forget what a father said to me after his daughter passed away from cancer. He was so grateful that with the accommodation we offered him, that he was able to spend his daughter’s last few moments by her bedside. Even in his grief he was grateful for what we had given him – something he might not have experienced if CHOC was not there. We make a difference every day – even in the darkest of moments, when it seems like we aren’t. That is what motivates me – we are giving hope to families!

Debbie Kleinenberg – Regional Manager Eastern Cape

Debbie Kleinenberg - Regional Manager Eastern Cape | CHOC Wonder WomenI feel blessed to wake up each morning and feel that I am making a difference in the lives of children and teens with cancer and their families.

How does CHOC make a difference in the lives of children with cancer and their families?

CHOC offers support from diagnosis of childhood cancer onwards. This includes: Psychosocial Support where the CHOC Social Worker is an integral part of the POU’s medical team; Practical Support, which includes an Interactive Learning Programme, Mothers Skills activities, Transport Assistance and Bereavement Support when required; Accommodation and meals at CHOC Houses/Lodges; Volunteer Support in various forms and Awareness and Advocacy for childhood cancer.

What motivates you to work at CHOC?

I feel blessed to wake up each morning and feel that I am making a difference in the lives of children and teens with cancer and their families. With CHOC starting as a support group more than 40 years ago, it is a proven NGO with an incredible track record. It is the leading childhood cancer organisation in South Africa. The support that CHOC offers is diverse and covers all aspects of the journey of childhood cancer from diagnosis onwards. The CHOC staff is one big family, and we have incredible support from our volunteers and communities alike.

Agie Govender – KZN Regional Manager

Agie Govender – KZN Regional Manager | CHOC Wonder WomenI personally would like to see our vision of being the leading NGO in childhood cancer being recognised by the Department of Health.

What do you feel has been CHOC’s greatest success so far?

CHOC’s greatest success thus far has been focusing on 4 core areas of service delivery and remaining true to this. The core programmes are replicated in every region and the CHOC team ensures excellence. We also pledge that we reach our beneficiaries who arrive at treatment centres. Our programmes reach those who do not have the means to access and treatment, and those that are most impacted by social issues like poverty, lack of access to transport and medical facilities. Our Social Workers are highly skilled and trained to manage beneficiaries from diagnosis, throughout treatment and until remission or loss of life.

What do you want to see achieved by CHOC in the years to come?

I personally would like to see our vision of being the leading NGO in childhood cancer being recognised by the Department of Health. I want to see CHOC being called on to advocate on matters of childhood cancer. Having a social work team that is recognised by the hospital and DOH has been pivotal in ensuring that childhood cancer is managed optimally. Finally, ensuring that we have advanced systems in place to ensure that our CHOC Houses are maintained and sustained for the future. 

Find out More About Supporting CHOC

Contact us to find out more about getting involved with CHOC, or to request more information.

To find out more about how CHOC supports children and teens with cancer, and their families, visit https://choc.org.za/choc-programmes-we-offer/

To get involved with CHOC, visit https://choc.org.za/support-choc/