At which point should a person diagnosed with life-limiting cancer register as a hospice patient? This is just one of the many questions asked not just by the patient, but by his/her family members too.
With February 4th being World Cancer Day, a global initiative that originated in the year 2000 at the first ‘World Summit Against Cancer’ held in Paris, we thought it appropriate to raise this question with Sr Sheryl Newman, Clinical Services Manager at Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services in New Market Park.
“While helping to relieve a person's symptoms and side effects from treatment is an important part of cancer care, many patients wait too long to register for hospice care because of preconceived fears that this means they have given up or that hospice care is only applicable in the final weeks or days of life,” says Sr Sheryl. “Palliative care is designed to relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life and can be used at any stage of a life-limiting illness if there are troubling symptoms such as pain,” she adds.
Stepping Stone Hospice’s Clinical Services Manager, Sister Sheryl Newman, was on hand on Thursday, 25 January, to accept a fourth wheelchair donation from the staff and pupils of Alberton High during their morning assembly.
Dylan Jacobs, a learner at Alberton High School and a member of the school's Welfare Committee, has been collecting bottle caps and bread tags since he was in Grade 8, in an effort to ‘earn’ wheelchairs from Interwaste as part of the organization’s recycling project, where they donate a wheelchair to the charity of your choice for the collection of plastic bottle caps and bread tags.
Stepping Stone Hospice will soon be opening the doors to another charity shop in Alberton. Says hospice’s Retail Manager, Brenda Peach: “The decision to open a second store came from the growing need to showcase the larger furniture items we receive from the community, as our current shop doesn’t offer the floor space to do that. We needed somewhere to feature the bigger items, in a manner you’d expect to find on a furniture-shop floor.”
The shop, which is located in the Stats Building in Fore Street, in close proximity to the Alberton Boulevard, is certainly large enough to act as a showroom, boasting 450m² of floor space. “We have some alterations and shop fitting to do, but we hope to open our doors by mid-Feb,” says Brenda.
2017 is finally drawing to an end. For some it has been a long year filled with profound sadness and loss. Many families in our community will face a ‘First Christmas’ without their loved ones.
Stepping Stone Hospice, too, experienced a difficult year – probably the most trying in our history. Yet, we also realise that there is so much to be grateful for.
Because of the generosity of our community and the hard work of our fundraising team, we were able to continue caring for the terminally ill in our community and their families. Your contributions have helped make Stepping Stone Hospice one of the leading hospices. We are so grateful to you for helping to support not only our committed clinical team, but also the support staff. You have helped us touch the lives of thousands.
In 2016, we started our Brick-by-Brick Project. The money raised has been set aside to help us realise our dream of a Hospice Village – an extension of our current facilities to help accommodate more patients in need, including adolescent patients and their families. We have encountered some unforeseen obstacles and red tape along the way, but our vision remains the same and we continue to look for the best possible solution for our planned extension to become a reality.
Stepping Stone Hospice paid a visit to St Mary’s Children’s Home in Rosettenville on Thursday, 14 December, to deliver festive parcels put together by members of the clinical team. After receiving a very warm welcome by the children and staff, Stepping Stone CEO Tersia Burger addressed everyone and told them a bit about what a hospice is and does. The children were very interested and asked quite a few questions. One boy asked if we can help people live longer, to which Tersia replied that while we can’t change the eventual outcome for our patients, we can help them live ‘better’ for the time they have left; that we support them and care for them and love them – and that, in essence, is what a hospice does.
Representatives from Pick n Pay, Alberton City arrived at Stepping Stone Hospice on Thursday, 14 December, to donate packs of adult diapers for use in the In-Patient Unit. Said Store Manager, Abel Lehoko, “I drive past the hospice every day on my way to work and have become familiar with what you do for the community. This is our way for saying ‘thank you’.”
“We hope that these will come in handy,” said Inventory Manager, Zelda Kone, who accompanied Abel for the handover. “We use 5-6 diapers per patient, per day, depending on their condition, so these will come in very handy indeed,” explains Stepping Stone Hospice Community Nurse, Sister Margi Bollman.
Members of Komatsu Mining Corp (Joy Global) visited Stepping Stone Hospice’s In-Patient Unit on Wednesday, 13 December, to donate items towards the hospice’s ongoing Wish List. “The collection was a staff-driven initiative,” said Tiffany Krog on behalf of Komatsu. “Any way we can help, we will try.”
“This donation is so welcome,” said Stepping Stone CEO, Tersia Burger. “We spend a great deal on everyday consumables, so every donation – be it paper, cleaning supplies, tea, coffee, tissues – all helps. We’d like to thank everyone at Komatsu who contributed to this wonderful donation.”
A regular supporter of Stepping Stone Hospice, Tracy-Lee Manning, together with the West Pack Lifestyle Centre in Alberton, surprised hospice this week with a R10 000 donation – a direct result of Tracey-Lee nominating Stepping Stone Hospice as her charity of choice in West Pack’s festive cash-giveaway campaign.
“Stepping Stone Hospice has become very close to my heart,” said Tracy at the handover of her winnings on Tuesday morning, 12 December, by representatives of West Pack Lifestyle Head Office at Stepping Stone Hospice’s In-Patient Unit in New Market Park. “I admire the work, the care and the love that happens here and I am truly thankful for Tersia and her team, who touch so many lives.”
Despite a tough economic climate experienced in 2017, the Thursday Club in Primrose, Germiston has managed to yet again donate much-needed funds to Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services. This is the fourth year in a row that Stepping Stone Hospice has been chosen as one of several charities to benefit from The Thursday Club’s fundraising efforts.
The handover took place at a Christmas Lunch hosted by the club, at the Genesis function venue in Boksburg on Thursday, 7 December 2017. The resounding message from all the charities represented on the day was clear – that 2017 has been one of the toughest for them financially and that it is thanks largely to the generosity of the communities around them and groups like The Thursday Club that have helped sustain them.
Funnyman Jason Goliath and a host of his comedic friends brought the house down at The Barnyard Theatre, Gold Reef City on Thursday 23 November as they presented Where’s Wally? The Brian Wallace Memorial Comedy Show in aid of Stepping Stone Hospice.
Over 200 people attended the event in honour of Jason’s best friend Brian Wallace, who lost his battle to cancer at Stepping Stone Hospice in May this year. “Stepping Stone Hospice gave him such a dignified end. Help us help them – come laugh,” said Jason about the event on his Facebook page.
Agt personeellede van Hoërskool Dinamika het hierdie jaar weer met groot entoesiasme deelgeneem aan die “Movember” veldtog as deel van hierdie skool se jaarlikse uitreikaksies. Die “Movember” veldtog het sy oorsprong in 2004 in Melbourne, Australie, gehad toe 30 manne besluit het om ‘n baard en/of snor vir ‘n periode van 30 dae te groei in ‘n poging om bewustheid rondom prostaatkanker aan te wakker. Dit het gelei tot die stigting van die Movember Foundation Charity wat jaarlikse duisende rande insamel vir bewustheidsveldtoge rondom prostaatkanker en algemene gesondheidstoestande onder mans. Hoërskool Dinamika se personeel het almal bygedra tot die fonds en sodoende R1 700 ingesamel. Die fondse is Maandag 4 Desember aan Stepping Stone Hospice oorhandig.
Representatives from Alston Primary School in Leondale arrived at Stepping Stone Hospice’s In-Patient Unit on 29 November to deliver a JoJo tank they bought for hospice with funds they had left over for the year. Part of a committee that focusses on outreach and giving back to the community, amongst other things, the ladies were made aware of Stepping Stone’s Wish List for 2017, which included a tank to harvest rainwater to use in maintaining the hospice’s Garden of Remembrance. Said Stepping Stone’s Clinical Services Manager, Sr Sheryl Newman: “Our garden is a therapeutic space for our patients and their families, so this donation is truly a special one for us. Personally, it was top of my wish list for this year in terms of the wish list items we needed.”
The Philia Women’s Support Group invited Stepping Stone Hospice CEO Tersia Burger to attend their Christmas brunch, which was held on Tuesday, 28 November at the NG Church West in Fore Street, New Redruth. There they handed over a donation from their members and thanked Tersia for the work that Stepping Stone Hospice continues to do for the community. The word ‘philia’ is usually translated to mean ‘friendship’ and ‘affection’ and this group of inter-denominational ladies meets every Tuesday to care for and support one another and also to learn new skills. This is the second year that these ladies have donated towards the running costs of Stepping Stone Hospice. The group also previously handed over blessing blankets for hospice patients and their families.
The Reading Ladies Golf Section has supported Stepping Stone Hospice consistently for the past three years through various events – including their annual Charity Golf Day, which is held primarily to raise funds for hospice. A group of the lady golfers also cycled for Stepping Stone Hospice in the recent Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge, which helped to secure even more funds for the organisation.
Members of the ‘Golden Oldies’ Seniors Group at the AGS Kerk, Alberton Noord, gathered together on Thursday, 9 November, in the church hall to welcome Sister Margi Bollman from Stepping Stone Hospice. The group, which meets once a month under the leadership of Seniors Coordinator, Zinnia Lee, listened intently as Sr Margi talked about palliative care and the work that Stepping Stone Hospice does in the community, explaining that “we don’t just walk a path with our patients, but with their families too.” She also highlighted the many ways in which a person can volunteer at Stepping Stone, with Zinnia stressing that we can all do something to become involved in our community.
A mere three days before his passing, Stepping Stone Hospice patient, Brian Sargent, married his long-time love Gisela Rall in front of family and friends in an emotion-filled ceremony held in his room at the hospice’s In-Patient Unit on Thursday, 2 November.
The 67-year-old Brian was diagnosed with cancer only six weeks ago and passed away on Sunday evening, 5 November – but not before fulfilling his promise to Gisela.
The couple met at a biker function over 16 years ago. “He kept asking everyone for my number,” recalls Gisela. “He eventually asked me out and for our first date took me with him on a Toy Run charity ride.”
This year has been their most challenging to date, according to Stepping Stone Hospice CEO, Tersia Burger. Back in 2013, she honoured her dying daughter’s last wish to open a hospice facility in Alberton that would take care of people and their families who were facing life-limiting illnesses. At the time, neither Tersia, nor the rest of her then six-women steering committee, ever thought that in the four years that would follow, Stepping Stone Hospice would grow to the extent that is has.
“Life-limiting illnesses are a reality many of us have to face and the services we provide have become an integral part of the communities we live in,” says Tersia. In 2013, 97 registered Stepping Stone Hospice patients died. In 2016, 235 registered Stepping Stone hospice patients died – an increase of over 227%. This year, from January to end September, the number is already on 225 of their registered patients who have passed away.
Local oncology company Eurolab donated R50 000 to Stepping Stone Hospice on Tuesday, 10 October, in aid of our ongoing fundraising efforts. “We are extremely grateful to Eurolab for the support, which will benefit our patients,” says Stepping Stone CEO, Tersia Burger, adding that Stepping Stone shares a common ethos with Eurolab in that "our patients are our main focus" and that every donation the hospice receives "helps keep our doors open."
The rainy weather certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm at the Meyersdal Action Sports Arena on Saturday, 7 October, as teams gathered to play volleyball and cricket in hobo gear while members of the community browsed the stalls at the under-roof market, all in aid of Stepping Stone Hospice.
The event was a collaboration between hospice and the Meyersdal Action Sports Arena, with manager AW Claassens spearheading the event, together with Stepping Stone’s Fundraising Manager, Marietjie Tame. “As part of our ongoing fundraising efforts, we joined forces with the Meyersdal Action Sports Arena to host a ‘Hobo’s in Action Day’ combined with an under-roof market selling unique arts, crafts and good food,” explains Marietjie.
Close to 2000 walkers took to the streets in Bedfordview on Sunday 30 July 2017, and because of their commitment and the hard work of the Shuffling Walking Team committee, an incredible amount of R366 000 was raised of which R80 000 was recently donated to Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services in New Market Park in Alberton.
Maria da Silva, co-founder of the Shuffling Walking Team, explains that various non-profit organizations who mostly deal with cancer related issues, are chosen annually to benefit from the walk. “Cancer is just something that has impacted many of us on our committee and in my case, I lost most of my family to cancer. So if we can help organizations who help those facing life-limiting illnesses, then that’s what we do,” she says.