Zanele

To Zanele, hope means smiling even in the worst, worst pain.

Let me take you on my cancer journey

Pains and swelling 

In 1998 I was diagnosed with Germ Tumor Cell a form of cancer in the ovaries, this diagnosis came as a shock to my family because I was at a tender age of 12 years, now how can a 12-year-old be diagnosed with such a disease which most of the time such cancers are diagnosed in adult women who have given birth and here I am and haven’t started my period!

Ooops you are pregnant

It all began with some sharp pain and swelling on my right side just below my belly button, the swelling appeared as if I had an appendix, after taking many painkillers and some home remedies with no success finally it was time to visit the clinic, by then the pain and the swelling was getting worse. After some check-ups and tests the nurse said that I had been naughty and playing with boys cause my check-up showed ”balloon stomach ”and the urine test revealed that I was ‘pregnant’, ooh my mama got into a Mama Panther mode and demanded to see the doctor-manager or whoever the nurse is reporting to. 

Hospital stays

We waited for the doctor and after he examined me he apologised to my mother, and immediately referred us to Sebokeng hospital for further tests, I was admitted on our arrival and stayed there for 2 weeks, during the hospital my mother said that the doctors haven’t told her what is wrong with me, therefore, she is going to ask them to discharge me. When we got home my mother’s employer contacted her private doctor at Mediclinic Vereeniging and in 2 days I was in his examination room and referred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, where I was admitted and diagnosed with a germ cell tumour within 2weeks. I had my surgery in December 1998, then January 1999 I was moved to the Pediatric Oncology Unit where I was so scared when I saw all the other sick kids, most of them had no hair on their heads, they looked thin, with somehow skin colour and all the machines that were beeping in this new ward. 

Chemo, chemo and lots of chemo 

My own journey of hair loss and somehow skin colour started by the end of January of the same year. I had 9 rounds of chemotherapy with many others to follow, I had 9 rounds of chemotherapy (9 months) with 4 surgeries in between. The treatment was tough, I remember the chemo side effects just like this morning’s breakfast, vomiting till I would feel like I am going to pass out, half of my beautiful long brown-black hair on my pillow and hat, and developing skin discoloration, mine looked like I was a purple Smurf. 

CHOC made our hospital stays easier and much more fun, we would be treated to camps, lunch outings, birthday parties, presents, celebrities and cartoon figures. These were indeed fun times when one would feel normal and healthy, you could bet that we were not sick after each outing, the chats and the laughter when we got back to our ward where our family back home felt at ease too. I would get a weekend pass out from Thursday to Monday and then back to the hospital again, it was not easy as I was always sick and would come back before the end of the pass out. And yeah, the passing of other kids was the painful thing again, as much as the doctors and the hospital staff tried to be discreet about the news we would somehow find out and this would turn our stomachs upside down. And there are 2 deaths that are just locked in my memory, but that is a story for another time. 

Real-world and recovery

I was declared cancer-free and discharged from the hospital in November 1999. My family was over the moon including myself, now I could not wait to get back to school the following year. January 2000, I went back to school, this was another journey that I was unprepared for, my hair was more like a newborn baby hair, still thin, and with skin discoloration. The worst of it was when my parents and teachers realised that I lost my hearing ability in my right ear, my sense of touch was not like others. This was now another fight on its own. Before I could get a hearing aid I learned how to lip read and had to learn to write and hold objects tightly or until I could feel them piercing through my hand. I had to these are some of the chemotherapy’s lifelong side effects.  

Life was hard as most of the kids were scared to be around me, sometimes nasty kids would make fun of me, but I was under strict watch from my teachers who made sure that I was not bullied at school, and I took my daily medication. In 2003 I went back to the hospital because I had gallbladder stones… My family and I were scared that the cancer was back!! They were removed, and I went back to school after and continued to soldier on. It was fun and scary to be in the real world. Though I managed to pass primary last year and went to high school and completed my matric in 2005 I had to study 10 times harder than other kids because I had something called chemo brain where one forgets easily. 

It took me years to stop worrying about relapsing and much effort to live my life freely and enjoy every given moment 

Today I am a qualified Social Auxiliary Worker and hold an End-user computing certificate. I worked in an organisation as a Social Auxiliary worked in the Men and Boys victim empowerment programme for 4years. 

Hello, My name is Zanele Mohlongo and I am a cancer survivor. This year I am celebrating 24 years of remission. 

Solar Rays of Hope: National Lotteries Commission South Africa lights up the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA’s Home.

We are proud to announce a significant stride in our mission to make a difference: CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA continues to embark on our renewable energy project for all our accommodation facilities. With unwavering dedication, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and illuminating the path toward a greener future.

A Home Away from Home

Situated close to specialised Paediatric Oncology Units, our accommodation facilities serve as a comforting refuge for children and teenagers undergoing treatment for childhood cancer or life-threatening blood disorders. These houses are more than just buildings; they are a home-away-from-home  to our families. Here, families find solace, support, and access to critical healthcare services that might otherwise be out of reach due to geographical or financial constraints.

Healing in a Therapeutic Environment

Within these walls, hope thrives. The therapeutic environment of CHOC houses fosters resilience and positivity during the challenging cancer journey. Patients and their parents or caregivers maintain a hopeful outlook, bolstered by the knowledge that they are not alone. Nutritious meals sustain them, and transportation to and from hospitals ensures access to vital treatments.  Lynette Muthuray “The installation of the solar systems at both CHOC Houses has made a tremendous difference in the day-to-day operations at the CHOC Houses.  Families who use medication that needs to be refrigerated are relieved as the electrical appliances remain on. The House staff does not need to charge lights but instead they can focus on the well – being of the families. Overall, it assists with the smooth running of the CHOC Houses”.

Solar Rays of Change

Thanks to the remarkable funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) our Plumstead and Sybrand Park CHOC Houses have received solar valued at R446,000. This funding is more than just an investment in infrastructure; it’s an investment in hope, health, and well-being. Furthermore, it enables us to effectively deliver on our programs maintaining hygiene, safety, and nutritional care, reducing fears and anxieties experienced by beneficiaries during load-shedding.

Hedley Lewis, CHOC CEO expressed how grateful we are for the funds received and how we can start to filter the “going green” theme throughout CHOC. Hedley Lewis says “The money which will be saved from this system will be utilised within the house, bringing down our monthly running costs.” 

Together, We Shine Brighter

As we celebrate this milestone, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to National Lotteries Commission South Africa. Your commitment to our cause fuels our determination to create a brighter, healthier future for every child battling cancer.

Join us on this solar journey. Together, we can light up lives, one sunbeam at a time.

FUNDRAISER

CHOC CHILDHOOD CANCER FOUNDATION SOUTH AFRICA
POSITION: FUNDRAISER
DEPARTMENT: BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT UNIT
AREA: RIVONIA, JOHANNESBURG
REPORT TO: BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Purpose of Position

To raise funds through individuals, corporates, individuals and SMME’s

Key Areas of Responsibilities:

Research

• Research and identify potential donors from a variety of sources, including but not limited to: the corporate sector, smme’s, individuals and community organisations both nationally and internationally.
• Contact potential donors to discuss funding opportunities and liaise with the Business Development Manager regarding these potential opportunities.

Fundraising

• Keep records of all fundraising income and expenditure and report these monthly to finance department.
• Provide monthly status report that is accurate and timeous to Business Development Manager on activities.
• Together with the BDU manager compile the budgets and ongoing review.
• Monitoring of monthly income
• Drafting of budget is realistic and aligns with the fundraising plan.
• Adherence to policies and procedures.
• Proposals must be aligned to CHOC’s programmes as well as what the donor wants to donate.
• The proposals must have accurate information and valid statistics.
• Meet monthly, quarterly and yearly budgets.Private and Confidential

Proposal Development

• In consultation with the Business Development Manager, identify key priority areas for funding.
• Gather proposal information by identifying sources of information, i.e., management team, programme staff, existing materials/resources.
• Together with the BDU manager write high-quality national specific proposals, concepts and applications focusing on CHOC core programmes.
• Meet proposal deadlines by establishing priorities and target dates for information gathering, writing, review, approval and submission.
• Write email appeals that focus on end of tax year giving, securing funds from SMMEs, including appeal for corporate debit orders.

Relationship Building

• Manage donor relationship on approval of funding and/or receipt of funds.
• Provide external stakeholders with relevant and comprehensive information timeously on the organisation.
• Through continued relationship building ensure that Donors choose CHOC as their preferred charity of choice to donate.
• Continued support or ‘’check in’’ with the donor.
• Offer donor personal touch (birthdays, anniversaries etc)
• Keep donors informed with any changes relevant within the organisation.
• Keep communication lines open.

Donor reporting

• Keep a schedule of donor reports in terms of narrative and financial requirements and deadlines for submission of reports.
• Ensure that these are communicated with the Finance & Administration Manager and the BDU Manager.
• Ensure reports are in-line with contractual agreements.
• Ensure timeously report submission directly to the respective donor.

Administration and Reporting

• Ensure that a donor pipeline is recorded on Salesforce, including but not limited to, leads resulting from research, communications with prospective/new donors, proposal submitted and the status of these proposals.
• Keep record of all proposals written and submitted.
• Provide monthly pipeline report to Business Development Manager.

Qualification, experience & knowledge

• At least 4 years of proven marketing experience
• Proven 3 years’ experience in proposal writing in a non-profit organisation.
• Experience in writing fundraising proposals aimed at corporates and SMME’s
• Experience in working with organisational budgets and consolidating these into programme specific budgets for funding proposals/applications.
• Experience in drafting reports for donors in line with contractual agreements.Private and Confidential
• Experience in working with donor databases. Experience in using Salesforce will be advantageous.
• Strong written communication skills with the ability to write clear, structured, articulate and persuasive proposals.
• Strong editing skills.
• Knowledge of basic fundraising techniques and strategies.
• High proficiency in Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint).

Professional skills and Personal attributes

• Proven ability in building rapport quickly with a diverse range of people.
• Creativity and the ability to develop new ways to inspire people about an organisation’s work.
• Ability to work well under pressure and to handle rejection.
• Ability to transfer skills and knowledge to others.
• Attention to detail.
• Ability to meet deadlines.
• Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently.
• Ambitious, results orientated and able to work in a target driven environment
• Reliable and mature.

Language Proficiency

• Fluency in English

Salary in the range of R276 000 – R324 000 per annum CHOC contributes towards a pension fund and medical aid after a successful probationary period.

To apply submit your CV with the names and contact details of at least 3 recent referees as well as the following documentation to reach the HR Coordinator at [email protected] no later than 31 May 2024:
Please use BDU FUNDRAISER on the subject line

• Certified copy of your identity document/passport
• Certified copy of your driver’s licence
• Certified copy of your degree certificate/academic record

If you have not received a response by close of business 7 June 2024 consider your application unsuccessful.

Young Leonaldo Crouch from Kimberley

In November 2023, young Leonaldo Crouch from Kimberley received a life-changing diagnosis: a soft tissue sarcoma. At just 14 years old, he faced a challenging road ahead. But he wasn’t alone, Leonardo was one of three siblings, and his family rallied around him.

After consulting with the medical team, the decision was made, Leonaldo would undergo radiation and chemotherapy. However, there was a catch. The specialised radiation treatment for children from the Northern Cape was only available in Bloemfontein. So, for a long and emotional 7 weeks, Leonaldo and his family had to relocate to Bloemfontein.

Leonaldo’s little brother, just 10 months old, needed constant care. His mother, Abbenesia, was breastfeeding him, making it impossible for her to leave him behind. Thankfully, CHOC stepped in. CHOC allows children who are breastfeeding to stay with their mothers. Leonaldo, his mother, and his baby brother found refuge at CHOC House Bloemfontein. For those 7 weeks, they became part of a supportive community. Leonaldo bravely endured his chemo and radiation treatments, with his mom and baby brother by his side. Abbenesia shared her relief at being able to care for her baby during this critical time.

“At CHOC House Bloemfontein, we felt the love,” Abbenesia said. “Interacting with other parents, sharing our stories—we knew we weren’t alone. It gave us hope. The staff became like family to us.”

Leonaldo’s journey isn’t over yet. He faces surgery to remove the growth in the coming weeks. We send him our best wishes and hope for a full recovery.

Kungentando Khathi

My name is Kungentando Khathi, I am 13 years of age from a small town called Berlin (Lingelistha) township. Berlin is about 21kms from East London. In 2023, my world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with brain cancer in March 2023. The symptoms started with severe headaches which started during the night and would last 2 hours and then disappear. I would also experience seizures. These episodes were happening almost daily. After 2 weeks my grandmother and aunt decided to take me to Cecelia Makiwane Hospital, they took the blood and afterwards a scan was done. They quickly discovered that I had something unusual in my brain. I was then taken to the Frere Hospital.  In September, I started treatment but unfortunately as I was getting better; I also lost my eyesight. I was a very active child, love soccer and rugby. I loved playing with my siblings and going to school. I cried for days because I could see anything, the clothes that I was wearing, my friends, my family. I was depending on people to take me everywhere.  I hated that and I still do.

I eventually had to get used to this new life. At the hospital the nurses are so friendly and continue to show support. I then came to the CHOC house in February where I really experienced so much joy. I made new friends. I could move freely on my own and enjoy the daily trips to the hospital in the CHOC cow vehicle. Saturday the 22nd of April 2023 was the best day of my life. I was told by sisi Portia that I was going to Aquarium to see all sorts of sea animals and the different kinds of fish. I had never been to this type of place before. We arrived at 11am and were welcomed by the staff, who had prepared a fun tour for us. I was able to touch the penguins and feed the pelicans. We were informed about the sea life, the different fish and what they eat. We were also told about the impact of litter on sea life.  I really enjoyed listening to the seals make noise while being fed. I was also able to touch the shell of a sea turtle.

I would like to thank the CHOC staff members for this outing. I have memories that I will never forget. I have a positive outlook on life and look forward to the next outing.

Importance of identifying Early Warning Signs for Children and Teens who may have cancer

A five-month and 22-day-old child was brought in by his parents due to a rapidly growing mass on the right side of his stomach. The child had a history of being on antibiotics before admission. Doctors performed a biopsy and other tests to check for possible causes, confirming a Malignant Rhabdoid Tumour in his abdomen. The parents were informed that chemotherapy was not feasible due to the rarity of the tumour, and the child was transitioned to palliative care. His parents had strong beliefs in traditional medication and felt that it would help him to get treated using it, so they pleaded with surgeons to only remove the tumour and stabilise their child.They were made aware of the risks of this procedure, but the parents committed that they would take responsibility and heal the cancer post the operation. The mother, a traditional healer of cancer and father, a pharmacist believed they were bewitched, and their child’s tumour is a result of witchcraft. 

After his successful tumour removal surgery, it was discovered that the child not only had the tumour but also a severe infection affecting multiple organs, including the brain, liver, kidneys, and heart. His condition deteriorated rapidly with sepsis in the lungs and blood, leading to cardiac arrest. Despite resuscitation efforts, the child’s organs failed to recover fully, and the critical care team conveyed that further interventions were futile.

Sadly, the child passed away in the critical care ward. His family was devasted as he was still young, and they had hopes that their traditional methods would help him recover. The family was offered psychosocial support, and bereavement counselling. The father expressed gratitude for the support provided by CHOC throughout their journey, particularly from the Psychosocial Team. He pledged to stay connected with other families affected by childhood cancer to navigate life after loss, expressing thanks to the entire medical team for their compassionate care and support.

This devastating case underscores the critical importance of recognising the Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. Prompt identification and diagnosis can significantly improve outcomes and potentially save lives. CHOC provides valuable resources and information on recognising these signs, empowering parents, and caregivers to seek timely medical attention for suspicious symptoms.

To learn more about the Childhood Cancer Early Warning Signs and how they can make a difference, visit CHOC’s website: Childhood Cancer Early Warning Signs

Early detection can be the first step towards effective treatment and better outcomes for children and teenagers facing cancer.

Importance of Identifying the Early Warning Signs

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Importance of Identifying the Early Warning Signs

for children and teenagers who may have cancer

In a small hospital room, a five-month old child lay, surrounded by worried parents. The child’s stomach bore the weight of a rapidly growing mass on its right side. The parents had noticed the change and rushed their little one to the hospital.

The doctors performed a biopsy and running tests. Their suspicions were confirmed: a Malignant Rhabdoid Tumour had taken root in the child’s abdomen. It was a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The parents held strong beliefs in traditional medicine and hoped it would aid their child’s recovery.

They pleaded with surgeons to remove only the tumour and stabilise their little one.

Despite being informed of the risks, they committed to taking responsibility for healing their child post-surgery. The mother, a traditional healer, and the father, a pharmacist, believed they were bewitched and that their child’s condition was a result of witchcraft.

Following the successful tumour removal, a grim reality emerged. The child not only had the tumour but also suffered from a severe infection affecting multiple organs — the brain, liver, kidneys, and heart. His condition deteriorated rapidly, leading to sepsis in the lungs and blood, ultimately resulting in cardiac arrest. Despite resuscitation efforts, the child’s organs failed to fully recover, and the doctors concluded that further interventions would be futile.

Tragically, the child passed away in the critical care ward. The devastated family had hoped their traditional methods would help him recover. They received psychosocial support and bereavement counselling during this difficult time. The father expressed gratitude for the compassionate care provided by CHOC, particularly from the Psychosocial Team. He pledged to stay connected with other families affected by childhood cancer, navigating life after loss.

This heartbreaking case underscores the critical importance of recognising the Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. When symptoms persist, seeking prompt medical attention can significantly improve outcomes and potentially save lives. CHOC offers valuable resources and information to empower parents and caregivers in identifying suspicious symptoms and seeking timely medical help.

To learn more about the Childhood Cancer Early Warning Signs and how they can make a difference, visit CHOC’s website: Childhood Cancer Early Warning Signs.

Early detection can be the first step towards effective treatment and better outcomes for children and teenagers facing cancer.

Refer a child or teen here


Embracing Diversity and Making a Difference 

A Teacher’s Journey

I’m Abigail Evert, a 25-year-old Grade 1 English teacher from South Africa and I proudly call Budapest my home. Since the end of 2021, I’ve been teaching through the Bilingual Program in a charming school outside of Budapest. Let me tell you, it’s been quite an adventure!

One of the things I cherish most about my job is the opportunity to open up the world to my students. Through the Bilingual Programme, we’re not just teaching lessons; we’re sharing cultures, traditions, and experiences. It’s a beautiful exchange that enriches both teacher and student alike.

From Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day, Pancake Day to Valentine’s Day, we’ve been on a whirlwind tour of celebrations from around the globe. But one event holds a special place in our hearts at our school: Flip Flop Day. Now in its second year, this tradition is more than just a fun day; it’s a symbol of hope and solidarity.

It all started with my dear friend Jessica Tait, who, despite facing her own battles with childhood cancer, shared the magic of Flip Flop Day with her students at her school in Budapest 4 years ago. Inspired by her courage and determination, I knew I had to carry on the tradition.

And so, with enthusiasm and a heart full of purpose, I asked my fellow Bilingual teachers to join me in supporting the CHOC, an organisation dedicated to helping children and teenagers facing cancer and life-threatening blood disorders.

We sold stickers on Flip Flop Day, wore blue to show our support, and educated our students about the incredible work of the CHOC. The responses were overwhelming as together, across six classes, we raised R4000!

But more than the money raised, it was the spirit of unity, love, and compassion that filled our school that day. From the excitement of students coming to school in flip flops to the heartfelt conversations about making a difference, it was a day we’ll never forget.

So here’s to Flip Flop Day, to Jessica, to every teacher who joined in, and to the beautiful souls who remind us every day that a little kindness goes a long way. As we eagerly await the next chapter in 2025, we’ll continue to educate our children on all that happens in the World.

And to my fellow teachers – Jessica, Jené, Devon, Nqobile, Victoria, Lana, Ashley, Jessie, and Zahra – thank you for your unwavering dedication and for making a difference in the lives of our students and beyond. You’re all an inspiration and someone that our classes look up to.

With love and gratitude,

Abigail Evert

 

  


Cape Town Cycle Tour and Two Oceans Marathon

We had a fantastic turnout for both events this year. At the Cape Town Cycle Tour, over 20 riders hit the streets for CHOC, gaining attention as Ethan Simpson completed the race as the youngest person ever to ride a unicycle. Their efforts raised over R65,000 for our cause, showcasing their amazing dedication always.

At the Two Oceans Marathon, we had 10 Cows running the Ultra and 30 participating in the half marathon. While awaiting the final fundraising totals, we estimate around R40,000 raised from entry sales and individual fundraisers. If you would like to be a part of this AMOOZING race with the herd in 2025 send Daisy an email to be added to the waiting list as entries sell out faster than Gerda Steyn’s Two Oceans Record!

In other meadows

A group of brave cows took on the challenge of the 5km Goxhill Lake Cold Open Water Swim in the KZN Midlands. Despite the chilly water, our crazy moos powered through with big smiles on their faces.

Meanwhile, at the aQuelle Tour Durban, our herd was out in full force, representing across all age groups. Our dedicated Cow Sweeps ensured that even the last two lady cyclists made it home safely in the scorching heat.

Eli, who cycled with his mom Kjersti, dedicated his ride to his big brother Axel, a childhood cancer survivor, and for his auntie and all the children at CHOC. With his bestie, Fezile Bhengu, cheering him on, nothing was going to stop him.

A big thank you to all the schools who manned the many water stations on route. Your spirit and encouragement kept the cyclists going, super job!!

Special thanks to CMH Nissan Ballito for their incredible support at the Umdloti water station, keeping our herd hydrated and motivated! 

Congratulations to each and every one of you for your incredible efforts, for representing the Herd and keeping more than hope alive.

Coming up

The Comrades Marathon is happening on the 9th of June 2024 and our herd is bigger than ever!

Currently, we have 320 runners signed up, having raised over R900,000 to date. With three weeks remaining for runners to reach their R6,000 targets and qualify for the CC seeding batch, we anticipate surpassing the million mark very soon. Our target for 2024 is R2million and we know our super herd will do their utmost to achieve this! We are always looking for volunteers to assist at our two water stations on race day so if you are in and around Durban or Pietermaritzburg and want to join in the fun and cheer the runners on, pop Daisy an email today!

Join our Herd!


The beginning of CHOC

It all began with a simple need: a kettle, some toys for the little ones, and a fridge. The modest origins of CHOC belie the incredible journey that followed, spurred by a handful of mothers pondering, “What can we do?”

Wards 294 and 286 at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital stand as havens for children diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders. Picture a typical Monday morning in 2020: bustling wards, dedicated staff, and a visiting clown crafting whimsical balloon shapes for the young patients.

These spaces burst with vibrant hues. Caregivers have their own sanctuary, equipped for brewing comforting beverages or preparing special meals. Despite the clinical setting, CHOC has infused the wards with warmth and cheer, transforming them into inviting sanctuaries. Contrast this with 1979, when the children’s cancer ward transitioned from the Transvaal Memorial Institute to the newly minted Johannesburg General Academic Hospital, now known as the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, characterised by its clinical austerity.

But that was just the beginning of a remarkable journey…

To spread hope, follow us on the social media platforms below

    

Our mailing address is: CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation 45 Homestead Road The Avenues Office Park Syringa Building Rivonia 2128

Email: [email protected] Tel: 086 111 3500

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