Community leaders encourage cancer survivors

The Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies provided some entertainment with their dance.

The Bonteheuwel Churches in Action (BCIA) teamed up with PinkDrive and Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHOC), to host a cancer awareness day for residents of the area.

The event, which was held at the Bonteheuwel civic centre on Thursday October 20, also gave women the opportunity to have free breast examinations, thanks to the PinkDrive.

Pastor Mike Seale said the BCIA is not just about the community’s spiritual health, but also about the physical and environmental health, and for this reason, they did not think twice about partnering on this project.

“We host career exhibitions, run programmes for the elderly and the youth, and we are agents of change. We partner with other organisations that share our vision, and we also reach out to our brothers and sisters from other faiths.

“One of our main goals is to uplift our youth. We are happy to have partnered with PinkDrive and CHOC today,” Mr Seale said.

Ward 50 councillor Angus McKenzie opened the event with a speech that got many in the audience excited about the future of Bonteheuwel.

“Our hope is to have a healthy and strong community and it warms my heart to know that there are still people who believe in this community. There are many leaders and heroes who came from Bonteheuwel, who have all been motivated by a passion for change. People don’t recognise Bonteheuwel for its good anymore. I believe, however, that we will produce leaders in Bonteheuwel again – leaders we can be proud of.

“We need to be the driving force of change, so my question to you is – will you be the change you wish to see?”

Former Bonteheuwel resident, Hilary-Jane Solomon, encouraged all those having to take on the challenge of cancer, to never give up.

“Three years ago, I was diagnosed with this illness. With all my education, I was still caught on the back foot. We were never educated about cancer. I said to this illness, ‘you will never overtake me’. Today, I want to ask you also to extend help to your neighbour, so that we ensure that Bonteheuwel will not be taken off the map,” Ms Solomon said, to a roaring applause.

Another familiar cancer survivor in Bonteheuwel, Soraya Salie, was emotional as she described her journey with cancer, having survived three different types of cancer.

“We can choose that our challenges make us, or break us.

“Some of us have our sight, but are spiritually blind. During my health challenges, I had a very educational time, and it made me realise that many of us take our bodies for granted. Cancer can be beaten. We must also take it as a blessing, and not a calamity. We cannot fight cancer with hatred. Let us nurture our soul, become peaceful, and let us forgive and forget, and win the battle of this war from within,” Ms Salie said.

Lynette Muthuray from CHOC, told those present about the history of the organisation, which was started in 1979, by a group of parents whose children all had cancer.

“Cancer does not only affect the patient, but impacts the whole family. Sometimes people have to travel far to get treatment at hospitals, and one of the services we render, is we house children and their parents for the duration of their treatment, if they live more than 50km away from the hospital.

“We have 12 CHOC houses across the country. We also help with a transport fund, because patients cannot miss any treatment. It helps mothers who have to travel with their children the whole week. Sometimes parents also have to quit their jobs to care for their children, which puts added financial strain on the family,” Ms Muthuray said.

Meagan Davids from PinkDrive reminded the audience that early detection could save lives, and gave an educational talk on breast cancer.

She encouraged all women over the age of 40 to have regular breast examinations, pointing out that breast cancer can affect men too.

Thereafter, women were free to visit PinkDrive’s mobile clinic, where they had their breasts examined and were taught how to do self-examination.