Cousin goes extra mile for awareness

An unbreakable bond between two cousins, one of who survived infant cancer, was encapsulated in a poignant letter which stresses the importance of early cancer detection in children.

Today is International Childhood Cancer Day.

Hudson Park Primary School Grade 7 pupil Sarah Kruger, 13, who was chosen as one of the Daily Dispatch’s local heroes for her selfless community work last year, donated her R1000 prize to the Childhood Cancer Foundation (Choc).

In a heartfelt letter she read out to her school at a special assembly last Friday, Sarah said she had chosen Choc as her beneficiary because the organisation had helped save her cousin Catherine’s life when she was a baby.

Little Catherine Schroeder was just three months old when a tumour covering up to 90% of her liver and putting pressure on her heart was discovered and she was rushed to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital where special medication saved her life.

Catherine is now five and is cancer-free.

“We were told that our little angel would probably not come home,” wrote Sarah.

“Choc was absolutely amazing with their help and support. We had volunteers visit our family and explain the proceedings that would follow once Catherine reached Cape Town,” wrote Sarah.

“They even organised accommodation and their help was unbelievable. We as a family will be forever grateful to Choc for all they did for us and for what they continue to do for so many precious children.”

Sarah also thanked the Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson for the opportunity to hand over her prize.

Choc regional manager Debbie Kleinenberg was in the school hall when the letter was read.

She immediately knew the teen’s words could be used in Choc’s cancer awareness campaign that early detection in children could save their lives.

“It was very touching and made such an impact on me. We will use it in our awareness campaigns because we always say there is a good survival rate if cancer is diagnosed early in children.

“We will also read this letter to parents of children in the cancer ward. They love to hear good news stories. It gives them hope.”

Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, Sarah said she had been in Grade 2 when her granny told her that her beloved baby cousin was gravely ill.

“She is very special to me and tells people we are sisters not cousins,” said Sarah, who wants to be a doctor one day.

Catherine’s mother, Candice Schroeder, said she had been shattered when her baby was diagnosed with cancer after nurses at the British Travel Clinic became concerned that she was gaining too much weight.

Schroeder said her niece’s stirring letter had made her emotional. “It really touched me. Catherine is bubbly and loves people and she and Sarah are extremely close.” —

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