Pink puts spotlight on cancer awareness

The Pink Trees for Pauline organisation wrapped the trees in pink on Klipfontein Road in Athlone.

Pink Trees for Pauline wrapped the trees along Klipfontein Road in Athlone with bright pink material on Thursday September 15 to raise awareness about cancer.

With September being child cancer awareness month, the organisation used the opportunity to commemorate the lives lost to cancer and those who survived the disease.

The seed of the campaign was planted in 2012 when founder of the organisation, Carol ann van Jaarsveld, dedicated the project to her mother and grandmother – both of whom were named Pauline – and who both died of cancer.

Managing director of Pink Trees for Pauline project, Adri Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, tog-ether with Dr Pam Kerr – a medical doctor who works with the organisation – registered the organisation.

The fabric used to wrap the trees was given to participating organisations by Pink Trees for Pauline to sell, with the money from these sales being donated to the Cansa’s Eikehof Care Home in Athlone.

Among the other partners in the awareness campaign were Hospice and the Sunflower Fund.

Michelle Hill, of Cansa, said that while many people did associate pink with breast cancer awareness, not enough was being done to raise awareness about the disease. “People say it is a sneaky disease. It comes in any form at any time and can affect anybody.

“People are hiding away from the diagnoses of it and shy away from telling people that they are cancer survivors or that they have cancer. We want to highlight cancer so that people should know that there are many people living with cancer and (that there are) those who have survived it,” said Ms Hill.

“Early detection is important. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances are of surviving the disease. We are raising awareness for the disease but also showing support for the survivors,” she said.

Of the women who helped to wrap the trees were a mother and her daughter from the Bridge-town community who are both cancer survivors.

Helen Willenburg, 83, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1989 and had her stomach removed that same year. She has been cancer-free for 27 years and said she felt it was important to participate in the event to raise awareness about the disease. “It is important to encourage other people who have cancer and are in denial that cancer be beaten.”

Her daughter Caryn Pretorius was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. She had a mastectomy the following year and is now cancer-free. “Sometime people are very scared and don’t want other people to know that they have cancer so that is why we need to raise awareness about the disease,” she said.