Flipping big deal for childhood cancer

Naptosa teachers swopped formal shoes for flip flops to raise money for the Childhood Cancer Foundation (Choc).

Naptosa teachers swopped formal shoes for flip flops to raise money for the Childhood Cancer Foundation (Choc).

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — Wearing flip flops to work might not seem like a big deal for many, but it is for teachers.

This week hundreds of teachers swopped their formal shoes for Flip Flop Day to raise money to help children with cancer.

Members of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) took up the challenge of the KwaZulu-Natal region Childhood Cancer Foundation (Choc) to “pay” for the privilege of going casual for a day.

Choc said it hoped its relationship with the organisation would be long-lasting as it had the potential of making a huge impact in the fight against cancer in children.

Last year, Naptosa supported Choc by selling cupcakes: “We raised R60 000 for Choc last year,” said Naptosa KZN manager Thirona Moodley.

She said the organisation hoped to beat last year’s target because they were concerned about the increase in childhood cancer. The effort showed they not only cared about the welfare of their members but also realised the importance of making an impact on vulnerable children.

“We are so much more than a union,” said Moodley, adding that Naptosa had 10 000 members. Choc KZN manager Aggie Govender said the relationship was hugely beneficial and went beyond just a one-day fund-raising drive.

“Teachers are the main contact with children and, as trained professionals, are able to make some critical observations of children and help identify those who could be suffering from cancer quite early. So you understand why we say this collaboration is very important,” said Govender.

Choc provides free, comprehensive support to families of children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders. Choc says cancer in children most often occurs in developing cells. Leukaemia, lymphoma and cancer of the kidney, brain, central nervous system, eye, and connective tissue are the most prevalent forms of cancer in children from birth to 19 years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that globally, more than 1 000 children were diagnosed with cancer every day. It is estimated that 1 000 new cases of child cancer are recorded annually by the South African Children’s Tumor Registry, but many are missed and do not receive treatment.

In a statement on International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day last week, the Department of Health said parents, teachers, GPs and paediatricians played a crucial role in early detection of childhood cancers.

“It is important to know the early signs of childhood cancers which include a white spot in the eye or sudden blindness; lump on any place on the body, mostly on the stomach; unexplained fever or weight loss; aching bones and easy fractures; a change in walk and contiguous headache with or without vomiting,” it said.

Govender said that working with Naptosa could go a long way in catching the disease early.

“Our belief is that the earlier the diagnosis the better the prognosis and the presence of teachers in the fight will help with that.”

Independent on Saturday