Friday, 29 October 2010

Childhood cancer

This morning I attended our local Institute for Architecture's (the PIA) annual ladies breakfast. This is a much anticipated event by all the ladies involved in architecture - not just female architects, but also wives of architects, secretaries and other support staff in architectural practices and reps in the industry. It is the one event of the year that is about anything but architecture and is always well sponsored. We also support a charity with this event. This morning it was all about childhood cancer.

The function was held at the Royal Elephant Hotel & Conference centre - a stylish venue with great food. We were each asked to bring a teddy bear along with some sweets tied around it's neck - these were donated to Duncan's trust who distributes them to hospitals with Pediatric oncology units. After coffee and a welcome, we were asked to open our one goody bag, to find a mosaic kit for a cupcake potholder. We then did the glue part of the mosaics with an explanation as to how to complete the grouting at home. I know that most of the girls loved this as the venue was filled with giggles and laughs.I loved this - I am so going to do more mosaics.
My cupcake pot stand

After this we had a brief address by Veronica de Jager of CHOC - the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa. This was followed by an hour long talk about childhood cancer by Derick Stedall, an architect and founder of the Duncan's Trust. Dercik lost his son Duncan at age 15 to cancer. Duncan's trust support and care for children and their families who are diagnosed with cancer. They also form part of the Just Footprints Foundation which takes kids with cancer and AIDS on camps, sisters, nurses, prosthesis, wheelchairs and all provided. Derick told their story as a family and the proceeded to show us some pictures of the kids they support and their stories.There are some amazing and touching stories of survival, hope and love. There are also stories of abandonment of sick children, brave battles lost and last moment joys. There was not a dry eye in the room. I sobbed like a baby only a mother with small children can by the mere thought that something like this can happen to one of my children. He also provided us with some shocking statistics: In the developed world your child has a 1 in 9 000 chance to get cancer before the age of 14. In South Africa it is 1 in 18 000, not because children are less likely to get cancer, but because it is often not detected in rural areas at all. If you are in the private health care system, the 1 in 9 000 is more realistic. In the developed world the survival rate is 70%, here it is 50% because it is often detected too late, once again in rural areas.  We were given a bookmark with theSaint Siluan warning signs to look out for, as set out below. And as we were warned, if fever persist and your doctor keeps prescribing anti-biotics, ask for the basic cancer screening - it is a simple test.

S: Seek: Medical help early for persistent symptoms
I: Eye: White spot in the eye, new squint, blindness, bulging eyeball
L: Lump: Abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, glands
U: Unexplained: Fever, loss of weight and appetite, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding
A: Aching: Bones, joints, back and easy fractures
N: Neurological signs: Change in behaviour, balance, gait and milestones, headache, enlarging head
*Saint Siluan was a Russian monk who died on Mount Athos in 1938. He prayed ceaselessly for all humanity.

The most common childhood cancers are Leukemia and brain tumors and it is suspected that some genetic link is possible in most cancers.

Just as important, what can we do to help in the fight against childhood cancer:
  1. Volunteer at CHOC or Footprints
  2. Donate platelets - this can be done at the SA blood transfusion service.
  3. Register as a stem cell (bone marrow) donor - it is a simple blood test. More tests are only done if you are a potential match. Currently a child has a 1:100 000 chance to get a match in SA - the more of us on the register, the better the chances are of a match if your own child might need it some day.
  4. Be aware of the signs of cancer, as above, and be on the lookout for it in your own children and those around you. Early detection is critical for survival.
  5. Donate money to CHOC or Duncan's trust - all the proceeds this morning went to Duncan's trust.
Thanks to all involved for a great morning and to REVLON who donated a hamper for the raffle and a mascara and make-up bag in the goody bags, to the Clay Club for two raffle hampers and our cupcake mosaic we made and to Belmay for the perfume. I am not sure who sponsored the bath goodies (might be the PIA themselves), but ut was a great spoil. More importantly, this morning made me so aware of how vulnerable our children are and mine each got a huge extra hug and a spoil this afternoon.
Le goody bag and contents.


  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful event. I know the money raised will be much appreciated.

  2. What a lovely post about the event, and more importantly, the cause.

    I will go give my kids extra kisses and hugs now.

    And your cupcake mosaic is gorgeous.

    P.S. We had a wonderful time this morning at our photo shoot!

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderfully informative and fun morning.

  4. You have a big heart Cat. What a great cause!!


So what's on your mind?