Psychosocial Team have a huge Impact

No Parent is ready to hear, “Your child has cancer”.  It is one of the single most overwhelming experiences one can possibly face.  You feel completely alone and lost. The CHOC Psychosocial Team helps make the journey more bearable and less frightening.

The CHOC Psychosocial Team is reaching new heights! A year and a half ago CHOC had social workers/counsellors in five paediatric oncology units. At the end of last year the team increased to seven social workers/counsellors and two social auxiliary workers providing services to nine paediatric oncology units in five regions!

The value of the CHOC psychosocial services lies in the team functioning “on the floor” creating the opportunity for supportive relationships to be formed from the time of diagnosis through the treatment process and thereafter, whether it means a cure or end-of-life and bereavement support.

Two years ago, the CHOC psychosocial team had around 9,000 contacts in a year with the children, teens and their families. Contacts include, assisting the medical team in the breaking of bad news, orientating patients and their families in the treatment unit, ongoing counselling, preparing children and parents for medical treatment procedures, end-of-life care and bereavement support – or any services provided directly to children and family members by the psychosocial team. In the last year this number has increased to as an estimated 17,000; with the number of beneficiaries receiving psychosocial support nearly doubling!

CHOC has now received new requests for psychosocial support services at  three other paediatric oncology units: Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital (north of Pretoria), Polokwane Provincial Hospital; and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (in Cape Town).  This is over and above the nine we are currently servicing.

We are extremely pleased to see the growth an expansion of the psychosocial programme because we know the significant difference it makes to the children, teens parents and family members. We are humbled that we can  touch the lives of almost every child with cancer and their family treated in these units!

First of its kind in Africa!

Childhood Cancer International

As part of our CCI (Childhood Cancer International) Africa Anchor role, CHOC is proud to have hosted and co-sponsored the first of its kind, CCI Africa Regional Workshop. Leaders from nine different African countries (South Africa, Ethiopia, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Uganda, Egypt, and Zimbabwe) came together to further strengthen CCI and the cause of childhood cancer in Africa, develop strategic priorities  for CCI Africa, form a CCI Africa Regional Committee, set up mechanisms for sharing knowledge and experiences between groups and identify and leverage growth opportunities for CCI members in Africa.

With the lack of awareness, poor diagnosis, a severe shortage of treatment and drugs, childhood cancer is a huge problem in Africa. Many children and teens suffer and die needlessly. It is vital that we  form a group of committed people from a range of organisations who will work together as a CCI Africa, and network with other entities addressing this issue (the medical fraternity, government, pharmaceutical and other companies, and civil society),“ says Carl Queiros the CHOC CEO, and newly elected Chairman of the CCI Africa Regional Committee.

The workshop took place in May, 2018, in Johannesburg and  was co-sponsored by CHOC and the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO). CCI Africa represents 27 countries in Africa  – members in 24 countries and partner organisations in three other countries. The CCI Africa Regional Committee  includes Daniel McKenzie of Kidzcan Children Cancer Relief Organisation, Zimbabwe as the vice chair, Brian Walusimbi  of Bless a Child Foundation, Uganda;  Prof Yasser Sadek of the Alexandria Group of Childhood Cancer Care, Egypt; Dr Ihesinachi Kalagbor of Simara Children Cancer Foundation, Nigeria; Dr John Ahenkorah of Ghana Parents Association for Childhood Cancer, and Sidney Chahonyo of Hope for Cancer Kids, Kenya.

In addition, three task teams were also formed around  of Advocacy and Awareness; Supportive and Palliative Care; and Business Development (fundraising).

For more information about CCI and our Africa members , please visit the CCI website  (go to the Africa Region under Global Network)

CHOC Top Charity at Comrades!

CHOC was one of the official race charities for Comrades Marathon 2018 and the overwhelming support exceeded all expectations for our iconic charity as we raised nearly R1.6 million for childhood cancer!

This year 260 runners took on the ultimate human race in the traditional black and white colours and cow print of The CHOC Cows, and the amount of money that the runners raised was overwhelming. Apart from the funds raised, the impact the event made for our charity and the cause of fighting childhood cancer was incredible.

Capetonian Axel Rittershaus, the highest-fund-raising CHOC Cow raised a phenomenal R79 943,83! For raising the most money, Axel was awarded a framed Cow for his incredible efforts when he collected his special race pack at the registration.

Thank you!

We could not have achieved any of this without our wonderful runners and their supportive families and friends, our amazing and super-enthusiastic volunteers who assisted at the Expo as well as at the two support stations on race day, and especially without the support and hard work of Cow Committee members and CHOC staff.

A huge thank you to the Comrades Committee for giving CHOC the opportunity of a lifetime. See you in 2019!

Brand New CHOC Homes

CHOC proudly has thirteen accommodation facilities across the country. Our two latest additions are pictured above. On the left is the new CHOC House in Sybrand Park, Cape Town; and on the right the new CHOC House in Centurion. In Cape Town, CHOC had a house in Bergvliet (as well as in Plumbstead and at Tygerberg Hospital). However, as we needed larger office space for the CHOC Western Cape office, and as we needed a property closer to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital, we sold in Bergvliet and bought a house in Sybrand Park (which is within walking distance from Red Cross). The house was officially opened by our Chairman, Nagm Azar and the Regional Manager of the Western Cape and Namakwa, Lynette Muthuray, at a House Warming Ceremony, on the 12th of July 2018.


CHOC House Pretoria provided 8 beds and 2,386 bed nights in 2017 for children, teens and care givers. Due to the significant increase in demand for accommodation, the 3 bedroom CHOC house in Pretoria became very limited and a bigger house was urgently required. Though the sale of our previous property and  the generous support of Clover Nutrikids, we are currently in the process of relocating to a new premises that will offer a lot more space to accommodate our beneficiaries, as well a larger office and storage space. The new premises is a 6 bedroom house situated in Lyttelton Manor (Centurion) – very close to Unitas Hospital . Most of  the children and parents that stay with us are treated at Unitas, and a significant portion also come from Steve Biko Hospital (Pretoria). The official house opening will be done by CHOC and Clover South Africa at the end of September. A big thank you to Clover for all of your support – not just for this house, but for the many you have assisted us purchasing over the years!!!

Volunteer Time and Donations Go a Long Way!

“It is the difference we make in the life of others that will determine the significance of the life we leadNelson Mandela.

As part of celebrating Nelson Mandela’s  centenary year, CHOC encouraged all South Africans to continue his legacy of giving and service, by participating in a campaign focused on CHOC accommodation across the country. Highlights of the day included:

  • The Kganya Investment group visiting our National Office with CHOC care bags filled with toiletries, colouring books and a message of hope for our patients.
  • The Mayor of Buffalo City Municipality, Councillor Pakati, and his team visiting the CHOC House in East London with gifts for each patient.
  • In the Western Cape,  Meadowfeeds sending their repair and maintenance team to the CHOC Lodge Tygerberg and CHOC House Plumstead. In addition, Smith Tabatha and Buchanan Boyes sent their repair and  maintenance partner to the Plumstead CHOC House.
  • Meadowfeeds converted the unused pool into a Remembrance Garden at our house in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal.

To mention only some of the many blessings and activities that took place on this day. We thank all those who participated in giving items on the wish list, their time and generosity!

Tough journey to diagnosis for young Mbalenhle Jalubane

It is very easy to underestimate the journey taken by a  parent to get the correct diagnosis for their  sick child. Nompilo Jalubane is proof of the many struggles faced by parents  as her 5 year old daughter Mbalenhle was diagnosed with cancer.

“I did not know a child could have cancer. When her left eye got swollen in June 2016, I took her to the clinic every month, but they always gave her Panado until I argued with the nurses that  this Panado was not working. But they told me they knew what they were doing. In October I was referred  to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital where it was found that she had eye cancer, and her eye was so badly damaged it had to be removed. At the time she was also told that the brain was affected and Mbalenhle had to go into ICU because she was also having difficulties breathing”.

After Mbalenhle’s eye was removed Nompilo also had the burden of explaining to her child why she looked different from other children. Nompilo realised the stigma Mbalenhle will face with one eye, so she decided she will normalize Mbalenhle’s condition to grow up being comfortable with herself. This is an important phase of treatment that parents have to go through with their children. The reintegration of a child into the schooling system with an eye, or any part of their body for that matter, removed. This is especially sad and unbearable for a parent.

When Nompilo arrived at CHOC she confided she was the only person working in her household and with Mbalenhle being sick, she had to make a decision to quit her job in order to be able to be with her daughter every step of the way.  CHOC assisted Nompilo and Mbalenhle with free accommodation and  food. Because CHOC is on the hospital grounds, transport and travelling costs for Nompilo was reduced significantly.   Many parents going through a similar journey stayed with Nompilo at the CHOC Lodge and they were able to support Nompilo through this journey with guidance and assistance from the CHOC social worker.

CHOC continues to raise awareness of childhood cancers, hence the launch of Vuka Khuluma. The Vuka Khuluma Campaign launched in 2017 to increase the knowledge on the early warning signs of a child with cancer in communities and health structures.The main purpose  is to ensure children with cancer and life threatening blood disorders are diagnosed early to improve  survival.

In 2018, Mbalenhle continues with outpatient treatment and is hopeful of  Nompilo’s recovery. Nompilo admits this has been the toughest journey she has had to face thus far, but she is very thankful they eventually got to a treatment center.

Well done to all the Comrades 2018 Runners, Persistence pays!

CHOC is so grateful to have ambassadors and parents of children with cancer who connect us to fundraising opportunities. One such person is Carol Sacke from KZN. As soon as we were informed of the closing date the CHOC team got together and sent in our application for consideration as charity of choice. There was great celebration when in CHOC was chosen as a charity of choice in this prestigious event that draws runners from all over the world for the next five years?.

It was with great excitement that we planned for Comrades 2018.  #Asijiki no turning back became our motto as well . The runners visiting the exhibitions were so obliging in supporting our cause at both Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg and at the Durban Exhibition Centre in Durban. To ensure the actual day was a success we invited eager volunteers to be part of our team. Chas Everitt in KZN partnered with us and we’re so grateful to them for taking care of the CHOC Team and volunteers. From all the feedback we received it was an amazing day and we thank the Comrades Committee for giving CHOC the opportunity of a lifetime. See you in 2019.

The impact of donation support to the survival of children with cancer

Several aspects impact on the survival of a child diagnosed with cancer. When children eventually get to a provincial hospital in KwaZulu Natal the unfortunate financial situation such as the lack of money to access public transport and the lack of proper nutrition is a stark reality.

Our social worker, recently observed once children have been discharged and sent home with their medication to recover,  they return to the hospital for their follow up appointments thinner and more sick. After clinically observing this situation and with some discussion, it became obvious that the children being hospitalised for long periods offered them set meals and proper diets. More often than not they have no food on arrival at home and thereafter it is a scramble for survival, especially if the family has no additional support in  the form of a grant or family members.  Nutritious food  taken with their medication helps the child to recover. After some thought and team discussions CHOC KZN made an appeal for food packs which was costed at R200 per bag and the response from the public was overwhelming. In the last three months we have been able to:

  • Give 71 food Hampers to families that had been discharged to go home
  • Support 185 trips home and back for treatment at a cost R15084.
  • As well as contribute R8500 for bereavement costs to 17 families that have lost their children.

A child  diagnosed with cancer is unbearable without your help.

CHOC KZN volunteers help in Keeping More than Hope Alive

The purpose of life is not to only be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

CHOC volunteers are proof that it is the small things we do together, for each other that matters. What would we be without our volunteers? They help us raise funds, create awareness in communities, interact with the children in the ward and spend time with the parents in the CHOC House and Lodge. These ladies and men who show love, compassion and commitment, they are our true ambassadors.

Here are just a few pictures of what the volunteers have been up to in the past 3 months in the ward.

Interested in being a CHOC volunteer? Here’s how.

Do you have some  free time or know someone that does? Do you have a skill that you could use and share with mothers or their children? Would it give you joy  to be allowed the opportunity to have an impact in the life of a child with cancer or a life threatening blood disorder?

Here are 5 easy steps how….

  1. Email Ntobeko on [email protected] and she will send you an application form.
  2. Fill in the form and return the form to Ntobeko.
  3. Attend the compulsory volunteer introductory meeting
  4. Choose the type of volunteering that will work best for your schedule.
  5. Inform Ntobeko of your decision…and you are a CHOC volunteer J

“Doing good to others is not a duty it is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness.”