LACE UP FOR CANCER FUN WALK 2018

The Cancer Alliance in the Western Cape once again hosted a very successful Lace Up For Cancer Fun Walk. This took place on World Cancer Day, Sunday the 04th February 2018 at the Castle of Good Hope and thousands were in attendance. ‘’Lace up for Cancer’’ is an annual event in Cape Town which gives members of the public an opportunity to dress up, have a fun five km walk  in memory of friends and family members suffering from cancer or whom lost their battle to cancer.

The Cancer Alliance comprises of six worthy causes that all work in the field of cancer. These are CANSA SA, Hospice Palliative Care Association, Sunflower Fund, CHOC, LOVE YOUR NUTS and People Living with Cancer. According to the official World CancerDay website, www.worldcancerday.org, “World Cancer Day should be viewed as an opportunity to coordinate global, national and local efforts in the fight against cancer” Cancer touches  everyone in different ways, we all  have the power to take action to reduce the daunting impact that cancer has on individuals, families and communities. World Cancer Day is a chance to reflect on, what you can do by making a pledge and taking action. Whatever you choose to do ‘We can. I can.’ make a difference to the fight against cancer.

INTERNATIONAL CHILDHOOD CANCER DAY

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA once again called  on all South Africans to “Have a Heart for Children with Cancer” on 15 February 2018. International Childhood Cancer Day (ICC) is a global collaborative initiative to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to express support for children with cancer, survivors and their families.

In developed countries, childhood cancer has become largely curable with the overall survival rate reaching between 70% and 80% whereas in South Africa the rate is approximately 55%. CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA aims to improve this rate by creating awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer.   Early detection of childhood cancer affords early diagnosis enabling a better chance of being cured and an increase in the survival rate.

In support of ICCD, CHOC  called  on schools, corporates and community groups to join our CHOC Celebrities and CHOC Ambassadors such Phumeza Mdabe, Jessica Nkosi, Romina Armellini, Anga Makubalo, Maurice Paige and Kenneth Nkosi to wear blue with the ICCD badge or heart pin on 15 February. In addition to wearing blue, members of the public could buy a loved one a delicious heart-shaped chocolate or a trendy “have a heart for children with cancer badge” or heart pin for Valentine’s Day.

CHOC Western Cape Region once again received wonderful support during the run up to and on International Childhood Cancer Day.We would like to thank all schools, religious institutions, companies and members of the public for the great support and for helping CHOC in keeping more than hope alive.

DOH PEOPLE’S DEVELOPMENT CENTRE HEALTH PROMOTERS PARTNER WITH CHOC

During the past year the CHOC Awareness Training and Education programme hasreached new levels.CHOC  started in 2011 training healthcare professionals, healthcare workers, traditional practitioners and community advocates in Gauteng, and now we have extended our services nationally. Our training at times takes place in professional facilities, sometimes in community centres, and other times under trees! CHOC trainers have travelled thousands of kilometres handing out thousands of informative pamphlets and training material.

The objective of the programme is to train healthcare professionals, healthcare workers, traditional practitioners andcommunity advocates to identify the early warning signs of childhood cancer and to follow the correct referral pathways for childhood cancer. This is to enable children to reach the specialised treatment centres in time to ensure ective treatment, as well as have access to essential medicine and care, in order to reduce the mortality and morbidity of children with cancer.

On 28 March 2018, Western Cape Department of Health’s Health Promoters  in collaboration with CHOC presented the Early Warning Signs of childhood cancer to twenty two Traditional Leaders and Health Promoters from Khayalitsha and surrounding areas. In South Africa, the survival rate of  chilldhood cancer  is at a poor 55%, while in other developed countries the the rate is at 80-90%.  Partly due to lack of knowledge about the disease and symptoms, in many cases most of the children referred for treatment are already in advanced stages, which significantly reduces the chances of survival. Early detection can dramatically change this scenario. CHOC facilitates an intensive Awareness Training and Education Programme to communities to ensure cancer symtomps and the referral pathways are known so that children in South Africa can be diagnosed much sooner.

More training will be held with Health Promoters and Traditional Leaders  as CHOC values the partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health’s People’s Development Centre.

INTERNATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY

On 03 June 2018 CHOC commemorated Cancer Survivors Day and in this edition, we would like to highlight the story of Childhood Cancer Survivor, Matthew James Reid.

Matthew was born on 25th  February 2003 and was diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma in 2010.He was treated at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital from June 2010 to August 2010 where he came into contact with CHOC.  Burkitts Lymphoma is a Lymphoma in the lymph glands and these account for 11 % of childhood cancers in Western countries. During his treatment, Matthew came into contact with time CHOC’s volunteers who handed him a carebag and often visited his bedside and provided his parents with a cup of coffee and a muffin.

Matthew always loved sports and his cancer never got in his way. In 2013 he started playing squash and nn 2014  was already selected for the Western Province(WP) under 11 team to go onto the Interprovincial Tour. In 2015 he played for the WP B team and a year lateri  was receognised  as first place in the WP A Team (Under 13) and this continued to 2017 where he was  in the A Team (Under 14).

The same year he was awarded SA Schools colours for Squash at the SA Inter Provincial Tournament and the Peter Van Der Bijl Award for All round Excellence – one of the top awards in Bishops Preparatory School. He also won the Design Tech award at Bishops that year. His excellence was not only in squash as he also played A team water polo, and Hockey for his school.

This year, he is the only under 15 in the A Team  in line to be in the WP Under 16 A Team for squash – to go to the SA IPT in East London in June 2018. . Today Matthew is a proud childhood cancer survivor and eager to take on life wholeheartedly.

Matthew is currently part of CHOC’s Survivor programme and his father, Ian Reid serves on the Western Cape Regional Committee.

SUPERHERO CHARITY DASH 2018

CHOC was extremely grateful to be chosen along with the Woodside Special Care Centre as one of the beneficiaries of the SUPERHERO CHARITY DASH FUN WALK sponsored by Crazy Store and MiWayLife. The event took place on the Sea Point Promenade on 21 March 2018 and participants could dress up as their favourite superhero and give back like a hero by bringing along a toy or toiletry item to the event.

Radio kfm 94.5’s Flashdrive 15:00 to 19:00 Presenter, Carl Wastie joined us at the event as Master of Ceremonies. Some mothers and children from the CHOC Lodge Tygerberg came to share in the fun. CHOC would like to thank the organisers of the Superhero Charity Dash Walk for selecting us as a benecifiary of the 2018 event.

CHOC WC REGION OPENING SYBRAND PARK CHOC HOUSE

Until the latter part of 2017, the Western Cape Region had had three CHOC houses that provide a ‘home away from home’ for families that travel long distances for treatment. The CHOC Lodge Tygerberg provides assistance to families receiving treatment at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, while the CHOC House Plumstead and CHOC House Bergvliet took in families from Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital.

In 2017 after much consultation, CHOC sold the Bergvliet CHOC House. The Bergvliet House was 15.5 km away from Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and 15.4 km from Groote Schuur Hospital. The decision to sell the  House  was  made because the Region needed a property closer to the treatment centres which could not only be used by the Regional Office and be a home away from home for families whose children are undergoiong treatment.

We were thrilled to secure a property in Sybrand  Park, which is merely 1,1 km away from Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital  and much more accessible for families, our Volunteers and stakeholders. The Sybrand Park CHOC House can accommodate four parents/caregivers and children. The House will  officially be opened through a House Warming Party on 12 July 2018.

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.”