Public support vital in fight against childhood cancer

Wakeel Greeff, 15, from Ottery was born with a tumour on his brain. He is now 10 years cancer free.

Public fund-raisers are vital to support child cancer patients and their parents who have to travel to Cape Town for treatment, says Lynette Muthuray, the Western Cape regional manager for the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC).

Ms Muthuray spoke at CHOC’s high-tea fund-raiser in Belgravia on Saturday. The event was organised by Marjorie George, who has been a CHOC volunteer for 10 years.

While Ms Muthuray noted that leukaemia was the most common cancer among children in South Africa, Ms George said many people still don’t realise that children could get cancer.

“That is why it is so important to have awareness events like these so that people can connect over a cup of tea and spread their knowledge about the early warning signs of childhood cancer,” Ms George said.

Tickets sold for R100, and the R3000 raised will support child cancer patients and their parents staying at the three homes CHOC runs across Cape Town for families who have to come to the city for treatment.

Speaking at the event was 15-year-old Wakeel Greeff, who has been 10 years cancer free.

After developing a squint in his eye at the age of 5, he was referred to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital for a scan that found he had a brain tumour the size of a golf ball.

He had an operation followed by 18 months of chemotherapy. Wakeel is still receiving hormone therapy.

About 30 people attended the high tea fund-raiser in Belgravia.

Ms Muthuray said fund-raisers helped to keep the foundation going.

“We do not receive any government funding, and Covid-19 has just escalated the need to raise funds to sustain the services that we render,” she said.

Early warning signs for childhood cancer include a lump on the child’s testicles, lymph nodes, or abdomen; a sudden blindness in the eye, a new white spot in the eye, a new squint in the eye or a bulging pupil; unusual bruising; unexplained paleness; unexplained fever; sudden loss of balance; slurred speech; and sudden headaches and vomiting.

Visit choc.org.za for more information on how you can help CHOC.

At the high tea fund-raiser, from left, are Western Cape regional manager for the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa Lynette Muthuray, Aviwe Matinjwa, Wakeel Greeff, Marjorie George, Estelle Andries, and in front from left are Ayabonga Matinjwa, and Vanessa Samuels.