Flip Flop Day 2023
Thank you South Africa for being Flip’n awesome!
While childhood cancer may not affect everyone, one thing is for certain – there are many brave little children or teenagers fighting daily against the disease.
But they are never alone. These courageous soldiers will always have the support, love, and care from those around them, even if it is through a donation from a stranger whom they will never meet.
Well done to Catherine Rall who won our competition with FlySafair. She has won a return flight within South Africa!
The Courier Guy had recently partnered with us to take the pressure off our courier fees for all the stickers that were bought online, providing an exceptional delivery service at no cost.
Thank you to our unbelievable partners, PNA and Tekkie Town. Two brands who fit in so well with CHOC. We thank you both for all your efforts in getting Flip Flop Day into over 500 stores combined country wide. We would like to pay tribute to each of your staff members, we know that putting up the posters, handing out the flyers and creating awareness is no easy task and you have both taken it on with such enthusiasm!
Corporates, small businesses, ladies and gents, boys and girls – we all did this together by stepping out with love and support for these amazing kids for them to see a brighter tomorrow.
We thank you South Africa and all of our partners for believing in CHOC and the work that we do. We look forward to making Flip Flop Day an even bigger success next year!
CHOC joins the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital Global Alliance
We share the belief that every child, everywhere deserves the chance to live regardless of race, religion, or the ability to pay for treatment.
CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA is humbled to have been chosen to join one of the most auspicious global alliances, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Global Alliance who supports children undergoing cancer treatment. This accolade is testimony to the paediatric oncologists and medical fraternity, the South African Department of Health, CHOC employees, volunteers, and donors who all come together to give these families a chance to overcome childhood cancer.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the largest, most respected paediatric cancer research hospitals in the world and is non-profit. St. Jude treats about 8,600 patients a year including patients from around the world and no patient ever receives a bill!
Over the last 60 years, their research and treatments have helped to raise paediatric cancer survival rates in the US from 20% to 80% and even 94% for some types of cancer. St. Jude treats all patients regardless of race, religion or the ability to pay.
Hedley Lewis, CHOC CEO said, “For a non-profit organisation on the tip of Africa, this is a dream come true. We trust that this partnership, dedicated to the shared vision of improving the quality of healthcare delivery will increase the survival rates of children with cancer and blood disorders, not only in South Africa but worldwide”.
CHOC receives accolade of “Best NGO”
CSI Legacy Awards held on the 2nd of March 2023
The CSI Legacy Awards 2023, is a prestigious event that celebrates corporate social investment, in recognising the contributions of industry leaders towards creating a better society.
This event was attended by prominent figures in government (the Honourable Deputy Minister for Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu), business (Heads of Investec, Standard Bank, Oceana Group), Academia (Head of Wits Business School, Professor Maurice Radebe), and civil society. The awards were given to those who went above and beyond to make a difference in their communities through corporate social investment initiatives.
Awards were presented across several categories, including Best Social Entrepreneur, Best Corporate, Best NGO, Best Rising NGO, and Best CEO.
Hedley Lewis, CHOC CEO, said, “This award that I had the privilege to receive on behalf of CHOC is a testimony to the incredible CHOC staff, volunteers, Board and Exco; as well as the medical fraternity and our donors that stand by our side to reach for the stars”.
I would like to thank each of you for voting for CHOC and believing in the work that we do. I must say though, even if we were not to be chosen as the winner, being recognised alone should have been a huge achievement; especially knowing that we are doing the best we were called to do for the children and teens with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders and their families.
Update from our Awareness Training and Education team
Collaboration with IFRC
Our partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross SA is getting stronger by the day. Last November, we trained 17 of their Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) officers in the Eastern Cape. This was the second group of volunteers that we trained. We wish to express our gratitude to the IFRC organising team, Linda Nene and Faith Dube for their vision and leadership in this partnership. What is encouraging is that the volunteers are beginning to identify and refer new cases in the communities.
Mogale City Refresher
In January we organised a refresher training for the CHOC Community Messengers based in Mogale City. These passionate and dedicated volunteers visit local clinics, ECD Centres, Community and Faith Based Organisation to spread the message that early detection saves the lives of children and teens with cancer. During the refresher training we reiterated the knowledge of the Siluan Early Warning Signs of childhood cancer ensuring that they take accurate messages to the communities.
Traditional Health Organisation Training
We were privileged to train Traditional Health Practitioners (THP) of the Traditional Healers Organisation (THO) of South Africa in Johannesburg. These Field Workers and Provincial Leads came from different parts of the country such as Limpopo, Northwest, Gauteng, KZN and Mpumalanga and will share the message of the Siluan Early Warning Signs of childhood cancer in their communities. The Director for African Traditional Medicine from the National Department of Health, Mr Bruce Mbedzi, closed the training by giving an update on the collaboration between the National Department of Health and the THPs; as well as the policy framework for the THPs in South Africa.
Granny Sienna’s Journey
On the 5th of July 2010, Caleb Opperman was born in Calvinia in the Northern Cape. The family was shattered when they got the news that he was born with meningitis. His grandmother, Sienna Opperman said that she was shattered, afraid and would not accept that her grandson would pass away. The doctors fought for his life and after a week he recovered and granny Sienna then knew that he had a fighting spirit. Caleb grew up to be a loving, gentle and a persistent boy. “When Caleb wants to achieve something, nothing can stop him, even when I say no, he would just hold my face up against his, rub his nose gently on mine and got his way” added Sienna.
In May 2022, on a school excursion to Cape Town, Caleb started sweating profusely, and was rushed to the pharmacy to find medicine to stop the sweating. The pharmacist recommended that they see a doctor. On their way to the doctor, the sweating stopped, Caleb felt better and they decided not to proceed.
A month later, Caleb accidently stepped on a chicken bone which cut his foot and was treated immediately. A few days later, Caleb’s heart started to beat extremely fast and he was rushed to hospital where they were told that his blood pressure was too high. He had an infection and needed to go to Upington hospital where he was treated in the ICU for a heart condition.
Sienna and Caleb then had to go to Bloemfontein for a biopsy. After Bloemfontein, Caleb returned home to Calvinia, was hospitalised again and later transferred to Kimberley Hospital where Caleb was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer namely paraganglioma. Paraganglioma is a type of neuroendocrine tumour that forms near certain blood vessels and nerves outside of the adrenal glands.
“I remember crying when the doctors told me this, because cancer was not something foreign to us. My sister and my daughter battled cancer and now it was my grandson,” remembered Sienna.
Caleb said that when he was told that he had cancer, he was bit sad and didn’t understand why he would get cancer at such a young age. “I had to believe that I could beat it, because I had to be strong for my ouma.” said the brave 13-year-old Caleb.
In December 2022, Caleb started his chemotherapy where he assured the doctors that he would do his best to be strong, because he is a fighter. The doctors then referred Caleb and Sienna to Keitumetse Malefandleleni, the Regional Programme Co-ordinator for CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA in the Free State & Kalahari region. Keitumetse was there to help them with all their needs while they attended treatment.
In February 2023, Caleb and Sienna were referred to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Gauteng South where Caleb had to undergo an operation. Keitumetse made sure that their travel arrangements were made and that they would be supported and cared for by the CHOC family in Gauteng. During their stay in Gauteng, they stayed in CHOC House Diepkloof. “It’s nice at the CHOC House, it is safe, it is clean, and the people are so friendly. I have also made new friends,” said Caleb.
“CHOC house is like my own home. Caleb could play outside with his friends, and I knew that nothing and no one would harm him. I felt safe and cared for”, added Sienna.
Caleb remains a strong and respectful young man that is obsessed with cars, debating, playing with his friends and cousins and absolutely adores his grandmother.