Discovery Vitality MoveToGive

CHOC provides comprehensive support and care to children and teenagers with cancer or a life-threatening blood disorder and their families from the time of diagnosis until the end of treatment – whether cure or sadly end-of-life.  CHOC offers practical support in the form of accommodation, transport assistance, Carebags with essential items and information, to over 3000 beneficiaries annually, particularly from low-income households across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. . Alongside this practical support, the organisation offers psychosocial and emotional support through more than 17 000 family interactions.

This partnership is part of the broader Vitality MoveToGive campaign. MoveToGive uses crowdsourced philanthropy to improve the lives of thousands of South Africans, by enabling Vitality members to support charitable causes, like CHOC, for social good. The app-based functionality allows members who reach their weekly activity, financial and driving goals to donate their earned Discovery Miles to a preselected cause or charity.

James Vos, Head of Product Management at Discovery Vitality and lead on MoveToGive says, “We are grateful to have a member base who are so generous in supporting those fighting cancer.” He adds, “It is an honour to partner with CHOC, whose mission aligns so closely with Discovery’s core purpose of making people healthier and protecting and enhancing their lives.”

For more information on the campaign please visit https://www.discovery.co.za/vitality/movetogive-choc-foundation

For further media queries please contact:

 

CHOC Representative:

 

Hedley Lewis, CEO

[email protected]

 

Nirupa Kasserchun, National Fundraiser

[email protected]

 

Taryn Seegers, Communications Coordinator

[email protected]

 

Discovery Vitality Press Representative

 

Munene Khoza

Senior Reputation Manager | Vitality & Wellness

[email protected]

About Vitality

Vitality is the largest global platform for behaviour change, underpinning the insurance products of leading insurers worldwide, with more than 20 million members in 30 markets. The Vitality model, established by Discovery Limited in South Africa, has been incentivising behaviour change amongst its clients for over 25 years. Vitality creates shared value by combining behavioural economics, clinical science, and financial incentives to encourage and reward members for taking steps to improve their health. The model began with a focus on health and wellness, and has expanded to include short-term insurance, investments and financial wellness. For more information, please visit the Vitality Website or email the Discovery Media Relations team.

 

 

About CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA, founded in 1979, by a group of parents who identified the need to support the parents of children and teenagers who were diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening blood disorder and their families. In line with the organisation’s vision, we have since evolved into the largest and leading childhood cancer non-profit in South Africa providing life-changing and all-embracing support programmes to both the child or teenager and their families, from diagnosis to remission or sadly end-of-life. Our core programmes are in line with the WHO Global Childhood Cancer initiative to increase the survival rate of childhood cancer in South Africa to 60% by 2030 through our Comprehensive Child and Family Support Programme offering psychosocial,  emotional and practical support, education and awareness;  as well as advocacy through strategic alliances and networks.

Be Bold, Go Gold

Gold September is an annual campaign worldwide to raise awareness of childhood cancer. There are many advances in pediatric oncology, yet cancer remains a leading cause of mortality in children. It is imperative that children are diagnosed early for effective treatment of early-stage disease, which will translate into favourable outcomes and improved overall survival. Many factors are responsible for delays in childhood cancer, including the child’s age, family’s socioeconomic status, parental educational level, distance of residence from the hospital, cancer type, site, and stage. 

Many children in low- and middle-income countries have poor access to hospitals, which in turn lack essential diagnostic tests, experience a shortage of nursing medical and surgical personnel, inadequate and erratic supply of basic pharmaceutical and chemotherapeutic agents, and an absence of radiotherapy, surgical and intensive care facilities. These are but some of the factors which contribute to patients presenting with advanced disease and resultant poorer outcomes. 

As neonatal, infant and child health improves in South Africa, communicable diseases, such as respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases, HIV-AIDS, and tuberculosis, are better controlled. It is imperative to focus on non-communicable diseases such as childhood cancer and identify these diseases early, have access to the correct diagnostics and therapeutics and ensure the availability of supportive care to improve overall survival of our children with cancer. 

The burden of the SARS-CoV-2 is further testing our fragile African health care systems. Many caregivers are unemployed due to national lockdowns, there are inadequate transport systems, and caregivers are afraid to venture out of the safety of their homes to seek healthcare as the ever-present danger of contracting Covid-19 lurks. Sadly, we may experience even further delays in the diagnosis of childhood cancer. 

We should endeavour to ensure children with cancer do not face further delays in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer during the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. 

The Siluan Warning Signs for childhood cancer were adopted by the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group and the national Department of Health to promote the early detection and we encourage the community to be a voice of hope this September and collaborate with health care workers, non-profit organisations, and the Department of Health to spread the Siluan Warning Signs for early cancer diagnosis. This could possibly save the life of a child or teenager. 

If you are concerned your child may have cancer, please refer your child or teenager here: https://choc.org.za/choc-patient-referral-pathways/ 

Professor Gita Naidu
Chair: South African Children’s Cancer Study Group 

Sandhya Singh
Director, Non-Communicable Diseases National Department of Health 

Hedley Lewis 
Chief Executive Officer 

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa 

For Media Queries – contact Hedley Lewis – 0829947655 – [email protected] 

 

CHOC continues to augment the paediatric oncology fraternity

The CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA has continued to augment the pediatric oncology fraternity to support patients to receive treatment throughout the SARS-Coronavirus-2 pandemic.

“If you are receiving treatment for cancer or have signs and symptoms of cancer, please do not delay in going to the hospital. Hospitals and clinics have contingency plans to assist all patients, and infection prevention measures to prevent the spread of SARS-Coronavirus-2” says Professor Gita Naidu, and omit second doctor (President of the South African Children’s Study Cancer Group -SACCSG).

 

At CHOC we recommend that despite the SARS-Coronavirus-2 pandemic which is still evolving globally and remains a public health emergency of international concern, do not avoid getting checked or delay your treatment, an early diagnosis can better the survival rate.

Hedley Lewis – CHOC’s CEO communicates that “our foundation continues to avail ourselves to members of the public who may  detect any of the early warning signs of childhood cancer in a child or teenager, please contact the CHOC helpline – 0800 333 555 (during office hours) or visit our website to get in touch with the region closest to you: www.choc.org.za

To view the CHOC Early Warning Signs please click here: https://choc.org.za/childhood-cancer-early-warning-signs/

 

For further media queries please contact:

Taryn Seegers
[email protected]
+27 72 243 5179

 

CHOC is a non-profit organisation that advocates for the health and well-being of children and teenagers diagnosed with cancer or life-threatening blood disorders. The passionate and dedicated staff and volunteers of CHOC aim to save lives through early detection and comprehensive support programmes for the families affected by cancer such as; accommodation, transport assistance, psychosocial, emotional and practical support and more. They also provide awareness and education on childhood cancer and life-threatening blood disorders.

Welcoming our new Chief Executive Officer, Hedley Lewis

Welcoming CHOC’s new Chief Executive Officer, Hedley Lewis

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA eagerly welcomed our new Chief Executive Officer, Hedley Lewis, to the team in June 2021.

Hedley, with his vast experience in the field of fundraising, has been the Chief Executive Officer of The Smile Foundation for 10 years. He is known for his extensive influence in management, development, and upbringing of strategic opportunities. Hedley left Vodacom and the corporate world to make a difference in the lives of South Africa’s underprivileged children where his journey with The Smile Foundation began.

“Vodacom gave me the opportunity to shoot for the stars and learn from some of this country’s finest leaders, starting in the finance department and then working with the Managing Directors office within the loyalty programs department. During my tenure at Vodacom, I received the Managing Directors’ award” says Hedley.

Adventures as the CEO of CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA

Hedley recently visited a few of our CHOC houses –  the Northern region, and the Saxonwold home – which was the first of the CHOC houses. He shares, “This home in the heart of Johannesburg has the love and warmth of a very special home. Walking through the rooms of the home I could feel the love and care that permeates the atmosphere.”

CHOC July Norther Region

Welcoming a brand new vehicle into the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA Transport Programme

“World Sports Betting generously donated a new quantum to our Gauteng South Region, which is greatly appreciated! This vehicle will transport children from the CHOC house to the hospital daily. For the financial year 2019 – 2020 CHOC was able to assist 847 people through our Transport Programme nationally. In addition to this we also assist families with transport funds. These funds are imperative as we often see children abandon treatment due to lack of transport, or in some cases, transport funds. CHOC’s transport programme relieves the financial burden, particularly in the case of low-income families who live far from treatment centres.  

In the last financial year CHOC was able to provide R635,475 in transport assistance all thanks to our generous donors!”

Hedley is a family man and we know that he will fit into the CHOC team perfectly. We’re excited to see Hedley apply his experience and knowledge to help grow CHOC further and create more awareness for children and teenagers who are fighting childhood cancer. 

Find out More About Supporting CHOC

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

Donate to CHOC here: https://choc.org.za/donate-to-choc/

Visit our online shop: https://choc.org.za/choc-shop/

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/

What is a Section 18A and how can it benefit you?

What is a Section 18A and how can it benefit you? | CHOC South Africa

What is a Section 18A and how can it benefit you?

What is a Section 18A and how can it benefit you? | CHOC South Africa

Did you know that by making a donation to CHOC, you are not only helping us keep hope alive for children and teenagers living with cancer, but you are also able to benefit from your donation?

CHOC is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation and has been approved to issue Section 18A certificates in terms of Section 18A of the Income Tax (Act 58 of 1962).  This means that if you, as a taxpayer, or your company, make a bona fide donation in cash or in kind (material assets), this qualifies as a tax deductible expense.  However, the donation cannot exceed 10% of taxable income.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) determines a bona fide donation to be   “a voluntary, gratuitous gift disposed of by the donor out of liberality or generosity, where the done is enriched and the donor impoverished. There may be no quid pro quo, no reciprocal obligations and no personal benefit for the donor. If the donee gives any consideration at all it is not a donation. The donor may not impose conditions which could enable him or any connected person in relation to himself to derive some direct or indirect benefit from the application of the donation?

This means that income received for the sale of merchandise, entry fee to participate in an event or campaign, the purchase of an auction item or the sponsorship of an event do not qualify for a Section 18A.  However, CHOC is able to send you a Social Economic Development letter to the value of the funds paid over to CHOC.

How do you get your Section 18A Certificate?

After making your cash donation, or if you have already made it, you can download our “Request for Section 18A” form here.  For cash donations made via EFT you just need to send through your completed form and proof of payment.  For GivenGain donations or those made on our secure giving platform on our website, you just need to tick the appropriate box on the request form.

With regards to in-kind donations, Section 18A certificates can be issued on receipt of an invoice.  If items are purchased from a supplier the receipt will be sufficient.  If items are donated from the company’s stock, then an invoice reflecting cost price will be required.  The certificate will be issued with the total amount less VAT.  These documents can be submitted with the “Request for Section 18A” listed above.

All queries regarding Section 18A Certificates, including requests, can be sent to [email protected].  Alternatively, you can contact your regional office directly.

Thank you for your support and for believing in CHOC and the work that we do. 

Find out More About Supporting CHOC

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

Donate to CHOC here: https://choc.org.za/donate-to-choc/

Visit our online shop: https://choc.org.za/choc-shop/

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/

Incidence of Childhood Cancer

Incidence of Childhood Cancer | CHOC South Africa

Incidence of Childhood Cancer

Incidence of Childhood Cancer | CHOC South Africa

Globally, childhood and adolescent cancer is threatening to overtake infectious diseases, as one of the highest causes of disease-related mortality in children. Despite being relatively rare, in high-income countries, childhood cancer is the second most common cause of death in children aged 5 to 14 years, after accidents, whilst in Africa, it does not make it into the top 10 common causes of death.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2015, reported that the worldwide numbers of childhood cancer globally are increasing, from 165,000 new cases annually to 215,000 cases for children 14 years and younger, and 85,000 new cases for 15-19 year-olds. It is unknown whether this is a true increase in incidence or whether more cases are being diagnosed and reported. Many more remain uncounted and unreported due to a lack of childhood cancer registries in a large number of countries, as well as a lack of diagnostic facilities.

Internationally, 150 per million children are diagnosed with cancer annually. This equates to 1 in 500 to 1 in 600 children being diagnosed per year.

In South Africa, the South African Children’s Tumour Registry (SACTR) reports about 1000 new cases a year for children under the age of 16. This is an increase from 10 years ago. Survival rates in high-income countries reach an average of 85% and are steadily improving even in less-resourced areas of the world where there are integrated programmes. The survival rate of cancer in children in South Africa is around 55% and seems to be on the rise.

It is estimated that two thirds of children with cancer never reach a treatment centre, and of those that do, most are in late stages of the disease.

The CHOC Awareness and Education programme aims to train healthcare professionals, healthcare workers, traditional practitioners, and community advocates to identify the early warning signs of childhood cancer and to follow the correct referral pathways for childhood cancer.

Since 2011, 25 358 individuals have been trained during 567 sessions. Early detection plays a significant role in increasing survival rates. Help us Support

Children with Cancer

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation is the only organisation that provides comprehensive countrywide support for children with cancer and other life-threatening blood disorders, and their families.

We can’t do it without you! 

Find out More About Supporting CHOC

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

Donate to CHOC here: https://choc.org.za/donate-to-choc/

Visit our online shop: https://choc.org.za/choc-shop/

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/

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/

International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD)

International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) | CHOC South Africa
International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) is a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors and their families. ICCD is held on the 15th February and spotlights the need for more equitable access to treatment and care for all children with cancer, everywhere.
International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) | CHOC South Africa

Globally, every year, more than 400,000 children and adolescents below 20, are diagnosed with cancer. The rate of survival depends on the region, with at least 80% survival in most high-income countries but as low as 20% only in low- and middle-income countries. 

In South Africa, the South African Children’s Tumour Registry (SACTR) reports about 1000 new cases a year for children under the age of 16. This is an increase from 10 years ago. The survival rate of cancer in children in South Africa is around 55% and seems to be on the rise.

The Target Goal of the WHO Global Childhood Cancer Initiative is to eliminate all pain and suffering of children fighting cancer and achieve at least 60% survival for all children diagnosed with cancer around the world by 2030.

This represents an approximate doubling of the current cure rate and will save an additional one million children’s lives over the next decade.

There are many reasons why there is a huge disparity between high income and low- and middle-income countries.  Amongst these is the late or missed diagnosis of children and the high rate of abandonment due to either stigma or access to financial resources which allow the child to complete treatment.

What is the aim of ICCD?

 “The campaign encourages individuals and organisations to stand up and speak out for kids with cancer, survivors of cancer, and their families. It is a day where we can unite in solidarity, be advocates for childhood cancer and promote initiatives that promote the plight and needs of children and teenagers with cancer, their families and the survivor”, Taryn Seegers, Communications Coordinator.   The public can show their support to children and teenagers living with cancer by participating in CHOC’s 2nd Flip Flop Day Campaign on the 12th February 2021.  Flip Flop Day is an annual event and it is a day of fun and colour because although childhood cancer is in no way light hearted, South Africans certainly are, and when it comes to our children we need to rally behind them, as CHOC SOLE-diers to truly show that we are a force to be reckoned with.

The campaign will be supported by PNA Stationers, one of South Africa’s largest and most successful retail stores, selling everything from stationery to art and craft materials, books and educational books; as well as Tekkie Town, retailer of the widest range of the best quality footwear at the best possible prices. The public will be able to pop into any of these stores nationwide, and grab their Flip Flop Day sticker. It’s simply never been easier to make a difference.

Visit www.choc.org.za for more information about how you can be part of CHOC’s 2021 Flip Flop Day!

Are you ready to flip?

CHOC Flip Flop Day

Start getting ready to have a heart and wear your soles, South Africa!

It’s almost time for CHOC’s 2nd annual Flip Flop Day. With YOUR help, it’s going to be bigger and better than before.

The brave children and teenagers of CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation will never stand alone in their fight against childhood cancer, and for only R10, you can slip on your flip flops and make a colourful stand with them, in a show of support.

Flip Flop Day 2021 – have a heart and wear a sole!

We’re taking over the nation, sole by sole, on 12 February 2021. Are YOU ready to join in?

To purchase your sticker, visit http://info.choc.org.za/FlipFlopDay2021 or pop into your local PNA or Tekkie Town store.

It’s simply never been easier to make a difference.

With a simple donation of R10, every South African can show their heart by wearing their soles! From classrooms to boardrooms, let’s walk in our flip flops for a day to highlight CHOC’s passionate purpose – our refusal to back down and let childhood cancer win. With the support of all of us, our children and teenagers fighting childhood cancer will know that they never have to stand alone.

Visit www.choc.org.za for more information about how you can be part of CHOC’s 2021 Flip Flop Day!

Childhood Cancer Network South Africa Working Together During Covid-19

CHOC and CCNA Against Covid-19

Childhood Cancer Netword South AfricaNational lockdown and the threat of COVID-19 over the past 9 months have certainly painted a different picture for us all. The goal of Childhood Cancer Network SA is to collaborate for the benefit of children with cancer and their families. This came to fruition during this trying time as stakeholders continued to play their vital roles, despite navigating multiple constraints: a lack of information, limited access to medication and no communication from government, to name a few.

Challenges We Faced

Possibly the greatest difficulty was to effectively manage the needs of the patients with cancer. Their increased susceptibility to infection because of their immunosuppressed status, due to both the disease and their treatment, was a formidable concern. Across our organisations, it was clear that the focus was to ensure that all patients on treatment received their treatment, and were admitted if necessary.

Currently, patients with COVID-19 are prioritised. This may have had major negative impacts on delayed cancer diagnosis, investigations, and cancer treatment including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Professor Janet Poole, Principal Paediatrician of Paediatric Haematology/Oncology at CMJAH, said that follow-up patients had to be triaged. Patients not receiving active treatments were given appointments later in the year, in the hope that we would not miss anything,” she said.

The reality was that all this was hampered by constantly changing policies and procedures within the hospital environment, coupled with staff that were under a lot of stress. In addition, the initial support of the social workers, volunteers, and activities normally done, was lost. Parents and caregivers were restricted to one person attending clinic and rooming in, and this caused much distress to the families and staff alike. The ‘child-friendly’ environment was lost.

Working Together to Keep Hope Alive

Fortunately, CHOC’s psychosocial team were soon able to be actively involved in the wards. They continued to deliver nurturing care and support to the children, teens and their families. The medical teams relied strongly on their professional assistance, as did members of the Childhood Cancer Network. The Rainbows and Smiles Foundation and other members of the Childhood Cancer Network delivered food parcels and donations to the hospital entrances and CHOC social workers distributed them on their behalf.

Lifting the COVID-19 Stigma to Prevent Delays in Diagnosis

Another large concern was for families who were reluctant to take their children to the doctor due to the COVID-19 risk. A delay in diagnoses could result in more advanced cancer that is harder to treat. Efforts were put in place to create awareness around breaking down barriers and lifting the stigma that can quickly emerge during a time of crisis. This included talking honestly and encouraging safety protocols, spreading the facts, showing empathy and kindness and challenging myths.

Prof. Poole clarified some of these myths:

  • She reiterated that children are far less likely than adults to be infected by COVID-19,
  • that the risk of severe COVID-19 disease in children with cancer across the world remains low.
  • that there is also evidence to suggest that children do not spread COVID-19 in the same way as adults, and
  • that child to child transmission is rare.

 

Receiving Treatment and Staying Informed

Professor Gita Naidu, Head of Paediatric Oncology at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital at the University of the Witwatersrand, mentioned that research articles say that children with cancer may display an increased vulnerability to poorer outcomes with COVID-19, while receiving therapy.

While still positive, her message to patients with childhood cancer and their families is to stay informed of the facts. She quoted the following from research that calls for careful consideration if undergoing therapy [1]:

  1. Surgery
  • Research shows that oncology surgery should not be postponed if there is rapid progress, impairment of organ function or any life-threatening situation. [2]
  • Due to the current shortage of blood products and ICU beds, these must be factored in to the risk-benefit assessment for surgery.
  1. Chemotherapy
  • There is no data available regarding delaying chemotherapy in asymptomatic patients infected with COVID-19.
  • For aggressive cancer, the risk-benefit assessment must be considered and treatment must proceed if the benefit outweighs the risk.
  • Maintenance chemotherapy should be changed to oral chemotherapy and telephonic consultations between doctors and patients should be used to monitor patients. Weekly chemotherapy doses could be omitted and dose reductions could be considered [3].
  1. Radiotherapy
  • Paediatric Oncology patients require radiation therapy, and this again is protocol based. Delays may adversely affect long-term outcomes.

 

Coming Together During Times of Crisis

Financially, very few organisations have been able to escape the negative impact of the pandemic. As challenging as the last few months have been, CCNSA has been spurred on to work together as a collective group, to ensure that every child with cancer or a life-threatening blood disorder receives the best support: access to treatment, essential medicine and palliative care.

CHOC is part of the Childhood Cancer Network in SA. We came together as a collective group in 2016 to work together for the benefit of the children with cancer and their families, not to duplicate services, but rather to address gaps. Although everyone has different roles, our hearts are all in the same place – to fulfil the purpose of supporting children and teens with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders, and their families.

CHOC would like to thank Prof. Janet Poole, Prof. Gita Naidu, Bonita Suckling (Rainbows and Smiles Foundation) and Adri Ludick for their input. 

References:

  1. Kutikov A, Weinberg DS, Edelman MJ, Horwitz EM, Uzzo RG, Fisher RI. A War on Two Fronts: Cancer Care in the Time of COVID-19. Ann Intern Med 2020; 172(11):756-758.
  2. Tan J, Yang C. Prevention and control strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Br J Cancer 2020:1-2
  3. Garg V, Bakhshi S, Gupta G, Pushpam D. Managing Pediatric Cancer Patients in COVID19 Pandemic. Indian J Pediatr 2020:1.