Gaining visibility: 1995-2000

During the second part of the 1990s there was significant growth in the activities of CHOC and the funds the organisation was able to raise. Much of the increased funding was the result of Chairperson Robin Bruss leveraging off his business contacts. Several Race Days at Turffontein, amongst many other events, were added to the CHOC fundraising calendar.

In Cape Town the activities of the Tygerberg Group dwindled for a while but were resurrected in the mid-1990s, with Jeanette Dollman as chair and Pauline Swanepoel becoming a full-time volunteer worker. A highlight of 1995 was the hosting of a Spring Tea and Fashion Show, with the patients as models. In 1997 the Forget-me-nots was formed as a support group for bereaved parents. In the same year some Cape Town parents attended a conference organised in Johannesburg by CHOC. Volunteers were introduced into the ward to play with the children, and more work was done to improve the facilities for parents.

Following the 1997 conference, a group of parents got together in Pretoria under the name of Together United for Children with Cancer (TOUCH) and this group operated on a fairly low-key basis for the next few years.

International relationships

International relations have had a major influence on the development of CHOC and in turn CHOC has influenced international organisations.

This started with Sadie attending the 25th Anniversary Conference of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation in Washington, US. At this meeting she was invited to join the board of the newly-formed International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (ICCCPO), which she served on for the next six years.

The founding members of ICCCPO were from Europe and North America and Sadie was the first board member from a developing country. Her input made ICCCPO aware of the needs of children with cancer in the developing world and the 1997 ICCCPO Annual General Assembly and Board meeting was held in South Africa. CHOC took advantage of the presence of many leaders from other parent organisations around the world to arrange a concurrent conference for parents at the Johannesburg Hospital. Some 350 people attended from all parts of the country and this conference laid the foundation for many future developments.

Then in 1998 two members of the Tygerberg group attended an ICCCPO conference in Frankfurt and came back with new ideas for the organisation.

When Sadie stepped down from the ICCCPO Board in 2001, Julian Cutland was elected onto it, and with his appointment took responsibility for the development and support of their website (www.icccpo.org).  He served on the board until 2008, when Kenneth Dollman was elected as board member, with responsibility for Africa, and later served as chair.

This exposure has made CHOC aware of the achievements of other parent groups around the world (often in far more difficult circumstances than here), and of the many programmes that exist, some of which CHOC has adopted. In turn, CHOC has made a significant contribution to ICCCPO, from raising awareness of the particular challenges of operating in a less developed country to sharing lessons learned locally.  ICCCPO has now changed name to Childhood Cancer International.

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