Growing steadily: 1987-1995

From the late 1980s there was a steady growth in funds raised in Johannesburg. The main emphasis was on the Johannesburg Hospital, where activities included: improving the wards to make them more child-friendly; parent meetings; support for families; and some transport money to assist parents to bring their children back for treatment. CHOC employed a part-time secretary based at the Jhb Hospital and funded the salary of a woman who liaised with families at Baragwanath Hospital to ensure that children came back for treatment when required.

Some support was also provided for children treated at Coronation and Hillbrow hospitals. It was during this time the Johannesburg Hospital opened their doors to children of race groups other than white, who had previously been treated at Hillbrow and Coronation.

For some years CHOC ran a fairly successful coffee shop in the Market Theatre Complex in Newtown, to cater to patrons of the weekend flea market across the road on Mary Fitzgerald Square. It was hoped that the shop could also be an outlet for parents to earn money from crafts they made but this side of the business never took off. Six teams of about 10 people were needed to run the shop on Saturdays, and then later on Sundays as well. Although it was not the financial success hoped for, it did have the side effect that the name of CHOC became fairly well known.  The chairs during this time included Julian Cutland, Angela Apostelides, Di le Roux, Malcolm Baxter, Dick Muller and Patrick Lewis. 

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, Prof Peter Hesseling, who founded the Department of Paediatric Oncology at Tygerberg Hospital – where the first child with cancer was treated in 1974 – initiated a Children’s Tumour Registry. Then a support group for parents was started in 1989, with Prof Rufus Gouws as chair, and monthly sessions were held. Pauline Swanepoel started a newsletter, which was well received by parents, and the connection between the group and the doctors and nurses at the hospital grew stronger. By 1992 the Tygerberg Children’s Cancer Fund had been started, with R5 000 to improve the ward, though the emphasis remained on parent support, with a range of events and outings.

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