A Parent’s Story by Patty Govender

I lay in bed one day and as I looked at my life, I realised it was perfect. I had a beautiful home and a good job which I enjoyed. My husband was also employed, and together we had two perfect children; Austin, the eldest, and Lisa. Then it all changed.

Two years from that day, Austin was 13 and a child who was hardly ever sick. Out of the blue, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. My son was a lively, bouncy big boy with size 3 feet. He was active, played cricket and like any young boy was always on the move. He had a great sense of humour and loved playing pranks. He had a warm, compassionate and considerate nature. Each day he would ask me how my day had gone and if all was well at work. If I‘d had a hard day at work, he would ask, “Why are you sad Mommy?”

Before my very eyes, Austin suddenly became withdrawn and fatigued. He lost his appetite and even went off his favourite foods. He began to tire easily and started losing weight. The fatigue was such that he could no longer walk home from school and instead would ask to be fetched every day. He started sweating a lot and struggled with tummy aches and headaches.

We took him to our doctor, who noticed an enlarged spleen with a very high white blood count. My husband and I were seen alone and were informed that Austin had leukaemia. We were utterly shocked; I was in no way prepared for this diagnosis.

Austin was subsequently referred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban and diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. When he was told of his diagnosis, he just gave up hope. He knew I had already lost my beloved mother and loving aunt to cancer, and so in his mind the situation seemed hopeless.

I put my life on hold and left my job. Leaving my younger child, husband and extended family in Harding, I moved in with family living in and around Durban. I decided to dedicate my life to Austin because nothing mattered to me except that he had to get better. A very good friend of mine once said “Cancer is a very lonely illness”.I later came to realise how true this was.

While in hospital at my child’s bedside, I began to come undone with the stress of it all. I was forced to accept my relatives had their own lives and could not always fetch and drop me for hospital visits. It was then I discovered the CHOC Lodge. I am so grateful to have the comfort of CHOC, with warm meals and endless support from mothers and staff alike. CHOC is a home to me and to Austin.

As of now, Austin has lost a year of schooling and I am still unemployed. My husband looks after us from our home in Harding, where my daughter is growing up without a mother. In spite of all this I have hope. I have accepted Austin’s diagnosis and do not question God’s wisdom in the matter. Austin continues to go for chemotherapy and radiation.

The news is not always good. May Austin’s soul rest in peace.”

Parent supporting parent groups

Brenda Bezuidenhout, a newly-retired teacher, has been a CHOC volunteer for several years. With her retirement and the time she now has, she has committed herself to leading a skills and spiritual development programme with parents at CHOC twice per week. Both of these activities are aimed at enriching parents who spend weeks and sometimes months at CHOC, whilst their child is being treated for cancer at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

The parents have shown great appreciation for this selfless gesture and as the saying goes, “Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time, they just have a heart.” This has been proven time and time again by our dedicated CHOC volunteers.

“To experience peace does not mean your life is always blissful. It means you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”
Jill Bolte Taylor

A special thanks to our donors and volunteers of 2017

The compassion shown by our donors and volunteers serves as an inspiration to us all. Our beneficiaries are sick and constantly fight the odds to stay well and even alive. It is the support of our donors and volunteers that helps them to keep more than hope alive.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Thank You Tea held at SICA Lodge on 10 November, 2017.


International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD)

CHOC urged the public to “Have a heart for children with cancer” on February 15, 2018. Several schools and organisations in KZN supported CHOC through this campaign. Hollywood Bets rose to the occasion and Hollywood Dolphins also took up the challenge, pledging R250 for every boundary ball hit during the game, which took place at Sahara Kingsmead Stadium on January 24, 2018. The players raised R9000 for CHOC. Supporters were urged to attend the game wearing blue to show their support.

Pat Freeman to run her 29th Comrades Marathon for CHOC

One thing about getting involved with CHOC is that once your heart is in it, you begin unconsciously doing more than is expected. This certainly seems to be the case for Pat Freeman, who began as a volunteer at CHOC then joined the CHOC Cows five years ago.

This will be Pat’s 29th Comrades race. Motivated by CHOC’s first year as one of the official charities, Pat could not resist being part of the team running for CHOC and has set her fundraising target at R30 000. She is already almost halfway there with the help of friends and caring individuals.

Pat is appealing to everyone to assist her raise funds for children with cancer. Her link is available on her ‘Pat Freeman’ Facebook page.  https://secure.onreg.com/onreg2/personal/profile.php?eventid=3820&recordid=7602

Starbucks supports CHOC through their Red Cup Campaign

Starbucks is passionate about supporting communities located close to its stores. Last year during the festive season, the coffee company chose to support charities in the neighbourhood by donating a portion of the proceeds from their holiday beverage sales through the Red Cup Campaign. The red cups encouraged customers to recognise those that filled their hearts and embodied goodness during the holiday season. To participate, customers simply had to write that person’s name in the heart of the cup. CHOC KZN was very honoured to be chosen as a beneficiary of this great heart-warming campaign.

Starbucks went even further by visiting us at CHOC and interacting with the children in the ward. Thank you Starbucks!

                          The staff of CHOC KZN visited Starbucks in Florida Road to enjoy a Red Cup.