We are delighted to have the support of a number of childhood cancer survivors. It is so inspiring for families to hear the success stories from survivors. As one mother said “It gives us hope for our children when we see fit, healthy children and young adults who are survivors and makes us realise that we must ignore the myths of childhood cancer as our children CAN survive.
On the 1 September 2016 childhood cancer survivor Kamva Mabuto visited ward C3 at The Frere Hospital. Dr Rema Mathew was thrilled to welcome him back to the ward as she had treated Kamva who has now been in remission for 8 years. He went around the ward greeting every parent and child and later gave a talk to encourage all the parents whose children are on treatment. He gave them examples of his tough times and instances of when he almost lost hope. Today he is a student at The University of Johannesburg and lives with his mother, who was a very active volunteer at CHOC East London before relocating to Gauteng.
In developed countries, childhood cancer has become largely curable with the overall survival rate reaching between 70% and 80% whereas in South Africa the rate is only at about 50%. CHOC aims to create more awareness on the early warning signs of childhood cancer so that more children in South Africa are diagnosed early, cured and that the survival rate increases as we know through early detection this scenario can dramatically change and more survivor talks and visits can be held at our wards.
Survivors are a vital part of the volunteer programme and their involvement and input assists families in coping with the journey of childhood cancer, as well as “keeping more than hope alive.” At this region we are in the process of developing and structuring our survivor programme to ensure that survivors have a well-thought-out forum to share their stories and support the families whose children are still on treatment.