Local artists visit children’s cancer home

Choc manager Lynette Muthuray with Craig Lucas and Paxton Fielies.

The Voice SA season 2 winner, Craig Lucas, visited the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC) house in Sybrand Park last week, after raising more than R20 000 for the foundation last year.

Craig decided to do away with the “traditional party” for his 26th birthday and held a benefit concert in aid of CHOC.

He managed to put the concert together in just two weeks and it was held at the SABC’s auditorium in partnership with Goodhope FM on Friday December 21.

He was joined on stage by Jimmy Nevis, Idols South Africa season 13 winner Paxton Fielies, the Pedestrians and Alt Ego.

CHOC provides care and support to children and teenagers diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders. They offer a range of services to Groote Schuur Hospital, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital, which includes counselling, emotional support, accommodation close to treatment centres, transport to and from treatment centres, support groups (including parent support), transport grants and food support.

They also run an awareness programme to train and educate healthcare professionals and traditional practitioners on the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

In recognition of his efforts, CHOC invited Craig, along with Paxton and members of The Pedestrians to visit the house and spend some time with the families, on Friday January 25.

Craig said he always felt a burning need to do more but felt like he wasn’t doing it while working and studying.

After winning The Voice, he finally had “free time”, but said he still wasn’t able to do anything meaningful and admits he was a bit disappointed in himself.

So for his birthday last year, he decided to hold the concert in aid of CHOC – having seen how cancer had affected one of his family members.

“After seeing what my aunt went through, with the cancer going away and coming back and how it completely destroyed her family, I knew I wanted to help in the realm of cancer. I thought to myself, if the cancer had such an effect on an adult, how hard must it be for children,” he said.

While performing for Project Dignity on Mandela Day last year, he was introduced to CHOC and the work they did.

Craig decided to give them a call and set the plans in motion for the concert. Craig said he was overwhelmed by the support, with tickets being sold out over night.

CHOC fundraising co-ordinator Gadija Israel said they were approached by Craig’s team and wanted him to come and see what the funds he raised was going towards.

Sarah Melambo and her 13-year-old daughter, Britney, from Knysna, have been living at the CHOC house since July last year, when Britney was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer).

Ms Melambo said her daughter had complained about her leg swelling, after she had fallen. They went to a doctor in Knysna, where they took X-rays and were later sent to Cape Town for treatment.

Ms Melambo said they were referred to the CHOC house by the hospital and didn’t know what to expect when they got there. “This has been our home away from home and we are thankful for the love and support we have received,” she said.

CHOC regional manager Lynette Muthuray, said they depended heavily on donations to run their three CHOC houses in the province – which costs about R500 000 a house, to run a year.

The house in Sybrand Park opened in April last year and can accommodate four families (parent and child).