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A Haven of Hope – CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge Offers Vital Support to Families

4 September 2023 – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: In the heart of Pretoria, a beacon of hope shines brightly for families facing the overwhelming journey of childhood cancer treatment. The CANSA Tough Living with Cancer (TLC)

Vera van Dalen with a teen Survivor

Nicus Lodge run by CANSA, nestled within the premises of the Tshwane District Hospital, is extending its warm embrace to parents, guardians, and caregivers who find themselves far from home while their children undergo life-saving treatments.

#ChildhoodCancerAwarness #CANSACares #CANSATLC

The CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge is evidence of the dedication of Vera van Dalen (CANSA TLC Paediatric Oncology Coordinator and Manager), also a mother whose love for her child has blossomed into a haven of support for countless families.

Initiated and dedicated to the memory of Nicus van Dalen, a childhood cancer patient and Vera’s beloved son, this facility was born out of a mother’s deepest desire to ensure no family should be separated during their child’s critical treatment.

A significant feature of the lodge is that parents and guardians can stay free of charge for the entire duration of their child’s treatment. With 50 beds available, it offers comfort and peace of mind in times of uncertainty. The lodge’s doors are open 24/7 year-round, ensuring parents have a refuge whenever they need it most.

For numerous families, particularly those from other provinces and neighbouring countries, the CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge is a lifeline. It cuts the stress of finding accommodation near treatment centres and eases the financial burden of transportation. Furthermore, the lodge doesn’t stop at supplying accommodation. Some families arrive without toiletries, adequate clothing for an extended stay, or personal hygiene products, and the lodge steps in to bridge these gaps.

Beyond the physical comforts, the CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge is committed to empowering parents. Regular information sessions, offered once or twice weekly, supply valuable insights and support. Individual trauma counselling is available whenever needed, helping parents navigate the emotional challenges of their child’s illness. CANSA offers support groups, prosthetic assistance, skills development programmes and educational ward programmes and further supports the personnel from oncology wards.

Anina Meiring, CANSA’s National Manager: Childhood Cancer Services, says “In September, we have a wonderful opportunity to help better the lives of the young patients. We’re committed to providing port, broviacs* plus nutritional and prosthetic support to kids, teens and young adults impacted by cancer.  Thanks to the generosity of the King Baudouin Foundation, we already gifted children who have lost an eye with artificial eyes within the first few days of September.  This drive enables us to visit various hospitals and support young cancer patients in managing the pain and discomfort that comes with cancer treatment.”

The CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge is not just a place to stay; it’s a haven of hope, compassion, and practical support for families facing one of life’s most challenging experiences and touched the lives of many. Hearing directly from three of the patients who have found comfort and support within these walls:

Gugulethu: “Sometimes we arrive at night, waiting for a doctor, it can’t be easy if there is no Nicus lodge. Sometimes the ward is full and if we arrive and there is no space we must go home. I am coming from the other side of Malelane close to the Mozambique border, and we come here, and the space is full, it is far to travel and return with hope just to be disappointed. Nicus Lodge is making a huge difference helping us to always have a home to go to.”

Nokubonga: “I am a mom of a toddler of four years. He has cancer and we are living close to the Swaziland border. We must travel for about nine hours because we first must go to another hospital to transport us here. If Nicus Lodge wasn’t here I would have to send my baby alone to a strange place. I don’t know if I could do that. Having a place like this helps me a lot in everything. We’re supported and they treat us very well at Nicus Lodge. It is easier to accept my child’s condition when I befriend everyone at the lodge. They tell me what I need to know, and I can ask questions if I am worried. We eat well and sleep comfortably.”

Anja (12): “I have Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL) and diagnosed in Mpumalanga. I have been living in the Nicus Lodge since January. It is like a home to me, and I stay here while I receive treatment. It makes life much easier because transport is a huge problem for us. We don’t have a car. I am doing well with my treatment.”

* Broviacs are used for critical chemotherapy infusions, administration of medicines / fluids, and repetitive blood draws. Devices help avoid the trauma to a child or teen of having needles inserted into their skin repetitively during treatment.

(Find more information regarding CANSA TLC and TLC facilities, or please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email lbalona@cansa.org.za. Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.)

CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

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