Cancer during childhood puts the child’s family under huge emotional strain and often creates money problems too. CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation is there to ease the distress through a range of care programmes.
CHOC was originally set up in 1979 by a group of parents whose children had been diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening blood disorder. In 2000, groups of parents around the country got together and created a new national non-profit organisation, the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa.
This voluntary body is dedicated to the wellbeing of children with cancer and life threatening blood disorders, and their families. It is a member of the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations and has regional divisions in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and East London.
The Foundation provides practical help from the point at which a child is diagnosed with cancer. This help supports not just the child but the family too, providing for example:
information and items of immediate practical use
organisation of groups to help manage with the stress that the diagnosis brings
accommodation close to the treatment centres for families from out-of-town
assistance with transport costs when necessary
To ensure that good specialist treatment is available, the Foundation :
works closely with medical staff
helps to ensure that the cancer units provide an environment that children find warm and friendly
helps paediatric oncology professionals maintain and improve their levels of expertise
acts as an advocate for those whose lives are affected by childhood cancer, lobbying for good treatment facilities and appropriate policies
The Foundation raises funds that are used for the direct benefit of children, their families and those involved in the treatment of these deadly illnesses.
In addition, the Foundation has a division run by and for the long-term survivors of childhood cancer, SOLID, which stands for Survivors of Life Threatening Illnesses and Diseases. SOLID provides mutual support, addresses the specific issues faced by long-term survivors, and shows newly diagnosed families that it is possible to survive the illnesses and grow into normal adulthood.
The CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation raises funds from private benefactors, corporate sponsors and community organisations and encourages people to spread the word about its work. Donations are welcomed at any time.
The Foundation has its own Web site at www.choc.org.za, where full contact details of all the divisions are available. Alternatively, contact the national number at 0861-113-500.
(Liesel Powell, Health24)