Medals for brave stars

STAYING STRONG: Young cancer survivor, Zoë Holloway, who was overcame all the odds of cancer, after being diagnosed at the age of two. She is now six years old Picture:SUPPLIED

In order to encourage and boost the spirits of boost the strength of cancer survivors, Choc started an initiative of collecting medals two years ago to reward children who have beaten the disease.

Choc social worker Thandile Cuntu said they started the project after receiving a huge amounts of medals from random people who participated in sport events. So far they have collected 300 medals.

“They wanted to give away their medals to children fighting cancer and other blood disorders, as part of acknowledging their journey through their diagnosis.

“The children’s parents, as well as the children, are very excited when they receive the medals,” she said.

Cuntu said the children were given  medals when they had t painful procedures such as like surgery, biopsies, port insertions and injections.

“Ever since this concept started, the children look forward to earning more medals and compete with each other on who has gained more medals or has the most beautiful ones, which makes receiving the medals fun and things less stressful to them,” Cuntu said.

Cancer survivor, Zoë Holloway, six, was diagnosed with leukemia on June 3 2015, and two days later after her diagnosis, received she got her first dose of chemotherapy.

Her mother, Bronwyn Holloway, said at the time that it after finding out her girl had to fight the disease, she felt as if her world was crashing down.

“A fear gripped me and almost seemed to paralyse me and then the questioning started. Why us? What do we do next? Will she die? My heart was in pain, a type of pain that made it difficult to breathe.

“The normal life we had grown accustomed to had changed.”

Zoë’s diagnosis came back as pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia and her treatment protocol lasted from June 5 2015 to August 20 2017.

Holloway said Choc had been “ amazing” in supporting  her and her family throughout the journey.

“Zoë often had to be admitted into the ward and she loved doing the arts and crafts at Choc.

“The most important service offered for me was the support from Thandile [Cuntu], who has become a dear friend of mine.

“Her knowledge, encouragement, love and support is valued by all the parents and children who are faced with the challenge of their diagnosis.”

Zoë was officially given the all-clear in September 2017, when her bone marrow biopsy came back clear and cancer free.

“She has been off treatment for a year now and we still have to visit the Frere Hospital every six weeks for her blood to be checked. She has been clear every time and it’s such a celebration.

“Our visit to Frere Hospital is not something we dread or are fearful of, but is one where we get to see old friends and make new ones.

“It might seem strange to some, but we have become part of a beautiful family and we are incredibly grateful to the doctors, nursing staff, Choc, but most of all to God for this journey and for His healing hand in Zoë’s life,” Holloway said.

The Daily Dispatch reported (“Medals boost spirits of Frere’s young patients” September 6) the hospital has a similar project in which they reward their patients for their bravery of overcoming any illness.

Acting head of physiotherapy, Sidarshia Govender, said: “ the concept came to life after seeing a Facebook post from a doctor in Cape Town.

“The parents love that their children are being honoured for their bravery during their stay at hospital.

“It is truly a more enjoyable moment for the kids. We usually try to keep it a surprise once their treatment or chemotherapy, or rehab is done, and the excitement once it is received is just priceless.” Govender said.

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