CHOC childhood cancer foundation


By: Ashlee Zlotnick


CHOC is something I hold close to my heart as it means a lot to me and is a very special place. It was established in 1979 and became a country-wide organization in 2000. It is a home where by children under the age of 18, who is suffering from cancer can go and stay during the duration of their treatment. Not only do the patients stay their but they are accompanied by a family member or guardian. CHOC provides them with a home away from home and provide them with food, transportation and a roof over their heads. This is just a background of CHOC but now I am going to give you a bit more.

I have been volunteering there for about 5 years now and I love every moment of it. The atmosphere alone will give you a life changing experience. Every one in the house with cancer, because of the different ages have a different perspective to what is happening to their life compared to how an adult might look at it. It is a known fact that a child doesn’t judge anyone. They have a positive outlook on life and that is what amazes me every time I see the children or teenager.

I walked into CHOC for the first time not knowing what cancer was or how people got it. As I opened the door then I got a huge fright. Every child had a smile on their face and I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand how they could be smiling when they had a life threatening disease.  I got to know the kids better and I found out that they were smiling because or the exact reason I thought why they shouldn’t be smiling. They were happy to be alive for one more day. When I heard that my life changed forever. We as healthy people complain about every thing. If it moves we complain but not these children. The fact that they woke up and they are breathing is enough to keep them going. Now why can’t we do that? Why do we complain? Yes it is human nature to complain and we are allowed to be upset some days and the kids do to but not for the same reasons we do.

Just the other day I went to the Johannesburg Gen. I met some astonishing people and one person in particular. Her name is Porsche. She is a 15-year-old girl who has cancer. She has had her one leg amputated and yet when I met her she was like a bottle of champagne waiting to explode. She was full of life and she said something to me I will never forget. “I am feeling very happy today because I woke up this morning. I’m happy because I didn’t die!” when she said that I was speechless. Here was a young lady that has every reason to be upset, angry and full of rage and yet she is one of the happiest person I have ever met in my life.

Another example is an outrages, fun, loving person who when you look into your eyes your heart sinks. You melt when you see that little girl running around the grass and playing with her air guitar. Her name is Savannah and she is a 7-year-old girl who has had a very rough 7 years. She was born with a hole in her heart and she is depth. Her parents were told she wouldn’t see her first birthday. When her parents thought it was over they were told she has cancer. This little girl has never heard her mother’s voice properly has to  over come cancer. This little girl is now 7 and she is stronger than ever. She is my true inspiration and I love her with all my heart.

In fact all of these CHOC children are inspirations to me and I hold them close to my heart. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about them and pray for them. I am grateful to all the people who help with raising money for their treatments but most importantly I am truly grateful to all the people who spend time with these children. I don’t think anyone really understands what these children want. Due to the fact that they have no hair and some of them might have no limbs, people treat them differently and that is not what they want. They don’t want you to treat them differently to how you will treat children without a disease. They want you to spend time with them and just give them so time.

To all those children who are living with cancer I salute you. You are all very special, unique and strong people and I hope that you will all continue to fight as well as you have so far. You don’t only bring me inspiration but you bring inspiration to every single person who gets to know you well. To those of you who have survived cancer you are an inspiration to those who are living with cancer.

If any of you who want to feel the same way I feel every time I see those kids feel free to contact the CHOC office at (011) 486 1212. Help us in “keeping more than hope alive”.


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