Lace-up and help beat cancer


With World Cancer Day around the corner, one association is gearing up to raise awareness and some much needed funds to continue supporting people diagnosed with cancer.

In February 2012 communications officer for the Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA), Eric Watlington, came up with an idea that placed the spotlight on all types of cancer when he unveiled the Lace-Up for Cancer initiative.

Mr Watlington explained: “Cancers such as colon cancer, thyroid cancer, liver cancer and so on are all symbolised by a different colour. Then I had a lightbulb moment.

“World Cancer Day should not only focus on breast cancer, but include other cancers as well and that is when the idea hit me – get a colour lace that represents the cancer that you support and walk or run in aid of it.”

Mr Watlington said he had three people close to him who were diagnosed with cancer at the same time, in January 2012.

“My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his sister with breast cancer and my mother-in-law with rectal cancer.

“When I heard the news, the first thought that came to mind were, are they going to die soon, what will I do without my father? The news does not only affect the individual, but the whole family,” he added.

Working for HPCA at the time, he then started doing research and learnt that there are over 20 types of cancers.

With the the Lace-Up for Cancer initiative hitting the Sea Point Promenade on Thursday February 4 (World Cancer Day), the Pinelands-based HPCA is looking to increase its numbers this year.

“This event is not only to raise awareness of cancer but also give families an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer or who are currently fighting this life-threatening illness,” he said.

The initiative started off with a small group of about 80 people in 2012, but has now grown to over 650 participants recorded at last year’s event and they hope to double that number in 2016. There are also plans to make the initiative a national event.

Participants choose to either walk 5km or run for 10km and it’s all based on fun, celebrating life and making sure that cancer is not seen as something that can’t be beaten.

The theme, “How crazy can you be for cancer”, encourages participants to dress in their most outrageous costumes.

The core function of the initiative is to raise awareness and funds to continue offering the necessary support for people who are suffering from cancer.

“The initiative is also a platform to highlight the role their member hospices play throughout the nine provinces.

HPCA is the umbrella organisation for up to 146 hospices who provide assistance to patients living with life-threatening illnesses.

“There is so much stigma attached to the word ‘hospice’ and most people assume it is a place where people go to die. It’s exactly the opposite – hospices ensure that patients are given the best care and treatment and they do the most amazing work,” Mr Watlington said.

He said one the benefits of this event is that it highlights that there are people out there who are faced with the same challenges.

“These types of events bring people closer together and allow them to share experiences, emotions and, most importantly, to network.

“In some cases people tend to start support groups and friendships develop. I would compare this to an annual family gathering,” he said.

* Tickets are R100 each which includes laces, bottled water and a temporary social butterfly tattoo.

For a group of four, the cost is R300, which includes water, laces and temporary social butterfly tattoo. Tickets are available online at

For details, call 021 531 0277.