Support for Children, Youth & Families Affected by Cancer
CANSA’s Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) Programme focuses on:
- raising awareness of cancers affecting children / teens and the importance of early detection
- providing tangible loving support, to youth and families affected by cancer
Children and teens diagnosed with cancer or affected by cancer (a family member has cancer) are supported, as we believe no child or family should have to face cancer on their own.
CANSA is committed to connecting people facing cancer with information, day-to-day help as well as emotional support they need in the communities where they live. Our aim is to ensure that cancer Survivors (patients) and their loved ones don’t have to face cancer alone; we’re here to support them through every step of their cancer journey.*
* CANSA is not aware of all children / teens diagnosed with cancer, since they go to multiple units across the country. Although we make regular contact in some identified wards where we have full time volunteer and staff support, we invite all oncology parents and / or legal guardians to contact us in order to register and become part of our Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) support groups. Any friends or family members of a family with a newly diagnosed child are welcome to share our information and to refer parents to us for support. All are welcome to join the CANSA TLC Childhood Cancer Facebook support group for children and teens with cancer, and to email firstname.lastname@example.org for support. A referral will then be made to a local CANSA Care Centre for further support.
Early Detection Vital in Child & Teen Cancer
International Childhood Cancer Awareness month is celebrated in September each year. Gold ribbons are worn to help raise awareness worldwide.
In South Africa it is estimated that at least half of all children / adolescents with cancer, are never diagnosed due to misdiagnosis or ignorance of the symptoms of childhood cancer. Read more about the types of cancer affecting South African children and teens…
A particular focus for CANSA is that of the teenage cancer Survivors (patients). Find more information regarding how teens are affected by cancer here…
CANSA TLC Support:
CANSA TLC strives to inform the public of the warning signs of childhood cancer to enable early diagnosis and to ensure that children are referred to Paediatric Oncology Specialists for treatment. #ChildhoodCancerAwareness #CANSAtlc
An incorrect diagnosis by someone less knowledgeable, can allow the cancer time to build up resistance to treatment. The quicker a child is diagnosed correctly, the better his or her chance of survival.
Myths surrounding childhood cancer also need to be debunked to ensure that children are referred to specialists without delay.
A young cancer Survivor, Thandi* and her mom Jessica*, were being rejected by their community. Jessica said at the time: “The lack of knowledge and understanding in our village is extreme. The majority still believe that my child is contagious and can harm them.” CANSA’s TLC Staff in Kimberley stepped in to offer support and information to their community. (*Names changed to protect privacy)
CANSA TLC embraces a holistic approach to include all aspects of physical, spiritual, psychological and social well-being of parents (guardians) and children / teens, through:
- sharing cancer related information
- offering support groups / counselling
- tele counselling
- providing terminal & grief support
- prosthetic assistance
- ports (broviacs) to minimise trauma (only provided to children / teens based on Paediatric Oncologist requests)
- medical equipment / wheelchairs
- educational school programmes
- skills development
- volunteer training
- providing accommodation for parents (guardians) near treatment centres
- providing food & basic essentials parcels to families in need
CANSA TLC Facilities & Support:
Currently there are 2 CANSA TLC Lodges, 1 CANSA TLC Ward and 1 CANSA TLC Teenage Support Room for children / teens and parents and families affected by cancer:
CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge on premises Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. This includes the Brian Davey Step Down Unit with 3 isolation rooms that provide a sterile but family friendly environment where children can safely recover while their immune systems are being built up – tel: 082 073 2850.
TLC support at other hospitals
- Dr George Mukhari: ports, food parcels (when available), support packs, one on one or small group sessions, crafts with kids, staff support, craft materials and activities, face masks
- Unitas: skills and crafts, support packs, food parcels (when available)
- Charlotte Maxeke: face masks, ports, support packs (when available), individual family support (as identified or referred).
CANSA TLC Durban Lodge – tel: 031-205 9525
CANSA TLC Paediatric Oncology Ward in Pietersburg Provincial Hospital, Polokwane – tel: 015-297 1268
CANSA TLC Tygerberg Teenage Support Room at Tygerberg Hospital – tel: 021-931 0990 or 076 047 6651 (Anthea Lewis)
TLC support at other hospitals
- Louis Leipoldt, NI City and Panorama Mediclinic: one on one sessions, craft pack drop offs
- Red Cross Hospital, Grootte Schuur Hospital: one on one sessions, craft pack drop offs, food parcel support, debriefing and bereavement support (after death or prior to amputation)
Do You or Your Child / Teen Need Support?
Parents in need of support are invited to join a TLC Support Group in their area (contact the nearest CANSA Care Centre), or help to establish one if one doesn’t exist, or contact Vera van Dalen, email: email@example.com or 082 073 2850 (office hours) or Cara Noble, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CANSA Tele Counselling can be accessed via the CANSA Help Desk on 0800 22 66 22 toll free, to make an appointment with a CANSA counsellor. Or send an email to the Help Desk via email@example.com – this is a confidential, professional, cancer-related telephonic counselling service to cancer patients, caregivers and their families and parents or guardians of children living with cancer. Counselling is available in seven languages (English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, siSwati, Sesotho and Setswana) and is free of charge.
Parents, families, and guardians can also join our Facebook Support Group: CANSA TLC – Childhood Cancer Support, to connect with others in a similar position.
Says Portia Masango, whose son was diagnosed with cancer: “Today marks exactly one year since my then 5 year old was diagnosed with cancer. I can still see Dr Khoza’s face when she said, ‘I’m afraid I’m gonna have to admit Tshegofatso, I need a CT scan done on him tomorrow, cos I suspect he has cancer.’
We were in Mankweng, a strange place, with no one we know around. The reality of it all never really hit me until we got transfered to Steve biko Academic. Then I got to understand what having a child with cancer means. Chemo, the nausea, loss of appetite, losing weight, being weak, sometimes feeling so helpless, feeling like just screaming. Being anxious, asking yourself: is he going to make it? The hope I had after completing the chemo cycles, only to do the CT scan and learn that the tumor was still there! Yet somehow having the strength to still go on.
Today, a year later, I’m grateful for every thing thus far: being able to attend school without major problems, just the occasional bleeding here and there, his glowing face despite chemo, still being able to play, slowly gaining back the weight, and the support from the CANSA TLC Childhood Cancer Facebook Support Group. It’s much easier when you talk to people who really understand what your talking about!”
Beyond Cancer – Model a Balanced Lifestyle to Your Child:
Childhood cancer Survivors need to continue with regular check ups. The treating specialist will offer dates for follow up visits and it is of utmost importance not to miss these appointments. Any risk for relapse or long-term side effects needs immediate attention.
After completion of treatment children / teens are able to return to school, some may take up regular activities excluding contact sport, and they can effectively reintegrate with family, friends and communities. While some children / teens may experience learning challenges or need to learn to live with a prosthesis, with the right support from educators and loved ones, the aim is to help each one to reach their personal goals and to achieve success.
It is important that they understand what they have been through, and feel empowered to take charge of their own well-being into the future. Parents can help by teaching them to:
- Adopt a balanced family lifestyle so that your child will continue to live on well into adult life
- Demonstrate SunSmart behaviour to your child
- Give your child the right to a smoke-free world – 2nd and 3rd hand smoke is also harmful!
- Avoid known carcinogens in the environment – help your child to identify these
- Vaccinate against HPV to reduce risk of cervical cancer & Hepatitus strains to reduce risk for liver cancer
- Teach your child about any risks they may face, at the appropriate time, so that they can identify unusual symptoms later in life – read more about Men’s Health and Women’s Health
Children / teens who have had cancer, are able to live a full, successful life. Where they may experience discrimination against them due to being a Survivor, later in life, they need to challenge this and speak out about it. There will always be ignorant people who believe myths and need to be informed of the facts.
Be a Gift to a Child in Need:
- Support the Vlok Family’s 9th Port / Broviac Fundraiser…
- Please make an online donation towards supporting our TLC Programme, so that we can help more children and families. Donations will assist with the provision of prosthetic support (children who have lost an eye or limb); the provision of wheelchairs; pain control implants and medical equipment.
- Donate basic items to TLC Families of young cancer patients…