Rachel gives back to children’s hospital

Rachel Ancer with one of the care packs and her book.

Cancer survivor Rachel Ancer, 13, from Newlands, is giving back to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital to help boost the morale of patients awaiting stem-cell transplants.

Rachel underwent her life-saving stem-cell transplant in 2017 and now, in honour of her “4th re-birthday” and celebrating her Bat Mitzvah milestone last Saturday November 20, she prepared care packs for the children as well as their parents who have to spend the long hours at the children’s hospital.

Rachel underwent a successful stem-cell transplant in 2017 after receiving support from the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) who found her generic match in an international database. Her preparation was done at the children’s hospital while the actual operation took place at Groote Schuur (“Hope of a ‘new normal’ for Rachel,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, April 6, 2017).

The care packs were done with support from the SABMR. “Sometimes you get very bored in the hospital, so I chose a few things like crayons, paints, colouring books, earphones, little gadgets for them to play with, and a beanie to keep their heads warm as your hair falls out due to chemotherapy,” says Rachel.

Last year, Rachel also penned her children’s book, Rachel’s Second Chance, with a little help from her parents, to give hope and inspiration to children who find themselves awaiting transplants.

“I hope my story book will inspire them and give them hope for a second chance,” says Rachel.

The parents also receive goodie bags, which include a mug, hot chocolate, headphones and a notebook and pen to help them jot down any important medical information.

The deputy director of the SABMR, Jane Ward, says Rachel is a very special girl. “She and her family have been champions and friends of the SABMR since her transplant journey,” she says.

Ms Ward says that Rachel’s story is testament that someone who has a stem-cell transplant can have the second chance at life that they so deserve. “This also proves that by becoming a donor you could save a life, just like Rachel’s,” she says.

The children’s hospital spokesman, Dwayne Evans, says Rachel is an amazing and caring young person. “We are certain these care packs will be well received and appreciated by our patients and their parents. We thank her for thinking of others as she celebrates this milestone.”

Due to Covid-19 protocols, which limit hospital visitors, Rachel handed over the care packs to her former physician at the children’s hospital, Dr Marc Hendricks, who collected them from her home on Monday November 8. They will be distributed to 18 children and their parents at the hospital.

Former deputy director of the SABMR, Terry Schlaphoff, and Dr Marc Hendricks, from the children’s hospital, collected the care packs from Rachel Ancer.