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.”

Fight like a child


15  February is  International Childhood Cancer Day!


International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) is celebrated around the  world each year on February 15. ICCD is a global collaborative campaign

created to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors and their families.

The day promotes increased appreciation and deeper understanding of issues and challenges relevant to childhood cancer and impacting on children/adolescents with cancer, the survivors, their families and the society as a whole.

It also spotlights the need for more equitable and better access to treatment and care for all children with cancer, everywhere.

How ICCD came about

ICCD was founded by Childhood Cancer International (CCI), a global network of 188-member organizations in 96 countries – including South Africa. ICCD was first launched in 2002. Since then has generated the support of global networks and leading institutions such as: the World Health Organization, SIOP (International Society of Pediatric Oncology),St. Jude

Children’s Research Hospital, IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), ICPCN (International Children’s Palliative Care Network) and CLAN (Caring and Living Among Neighbours), among others.

Childhood Cancer Statistics

Sadly according to CCI childhood cancer continues to be the leading cause of non-communicable related death in children throughout the world. Globally, more than 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year with about 1000 new cases in our country alone.

Many childhood cancers have a higher survival rate when diagnosed early. Unfortunately, childhood cancers are sometimes overlooked or misdiagnosed because early symptoms are mistakenly attributed to more common injuries or illnesses due to lack of knowledge. To familiarise yourself with the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

Most common childhood cancers

Research from the US National Library of Medicine shows that ommon cancers in children are different from those found in  adults, most often occurring in the developing cells like bone marrow, blood, kidneys and nervous system tissues. Life- threatening blood disorders include haemophilia aplastic anaemia, thalassaemia and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Despite being relatively rare, in Western 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.

According to the most recent South African Children’s Cancer Study Group (SACCSG) registry statistics, for 2009 to 2013, the five most common childhood cancers in South Africa are leukaemia, followed by lymphoma (tumours that begin in the lymph glands), then brain tumours, nephroblastomas, or Wilms tumours – cancer of the kidneys – and then soft tissue sarcomas, which are tumours that beginin the connective tissue.

Leukaemia comprises 25.4% of all  cancers,  which  is similar to rates in other countries. However, in developed countries brain tumours make up another 25% whilst in South Africa they only make up 13.4%. This discrepancy is thought to be due to under diagnosis, especially in rural  and smaller hospitals.

The power of creating a better future for children/adolescents with cancer lies in us and in what we do at present.

15 February, as we celebrate ICCD we urge you to wear blue along with the ICCD badge or heart  pin  to honor the extraordinary courage and strength of children with cancer, who at a very young age, have to go through a long, arduous and painful treatment.

Let us recognise and support incredible determination and tenacity of their parents and families, who do everything humanly possible to save the lives of their children.

visit www.choc.org.za for a list of items on sale for ICCD 2017