Join Sunflower Fund in curbing cancer statistics

Every year, millions of individuals around the world are diagnosed with cancer. In 2018, just under 1.5 million new cases of blood cancer were recorded worldwide and according to a special report by Discovery Health released in 2018, cancer causes more deaths in South Africa than HIV/ Aids, TB and malaria combined. 

Zara Dubepp

Even more staggering is the fact detailed in the same report that leukaemia tops the list of top five cancers by cost at R281 455 per case on average. While it is good to shine the spotlight on these statistics to raise awareness, the Sunflower Fund wants to use bone marrow stem cell donation and Leukaemia Awareness Month to remind South Africans that they actually can do something to change these statistics.

The Sunflower Fund initiated its annual Sunflower Day campaign 16 years ago to get individuals involved in the fight against blood diseases. The campaign, which is anchored by the sale of the Tube of Hope (TOPE), a multi-purpose accessory, is aimed at raising funds for the recruitment of blood stem cell donors to give the hope of cure to patients diagnosed with life-threatening blood diseases like leukaemia who are in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant.

A patient in need of a transplant needs a genetic matching donor.  There is only a 25 percent chance that a sibling will be a match.  The remaining 75 percent chance depends on finding an unrelated matching donor. The best chance of finding this match is someone from the same ethnic background as the patient. As such, South Africa needs an ethnically diverse registry of committed donors.

The Sunflower Fund pays for the cost of the DNA test to register a donor, which costs R3100 per donor.  All funds raised through the Sunflower Day campaign goes towards these costs.

Sunflower Day will be commemorated on Friday, 20 September 2019. Tope will be on sale from 1 August retailing for R30. The design is inspired by the coming together of various African cultures, bringing hope of finding their life-saving match to patientsin need of a stem cell transplant.

The tope comes in six vibrant colours each symbolising hope and depicting ‘Hope tags’. “Hope tags are a series of hash tags that will be used throughout the campaign as labels that unite and empower us rather than the divisive labels that society has become accustomed to,” said Kim Webster, head of communications at the Sunflower Fund.