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Rocks bring comfort

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Carin Schultz, social worker at Cancer Care Somerset West, with the large rock painted for the oncology centre.
Carin Schultz, social worker at Cancer Care Somerset West, with the large rock painted for the oncology centre.

Walking the arduous cancer treatment journey demands guts, sheer determination, heaps of positive energy and support from those close to you. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt many in-treatment cancer patients a blow as they are now forced to undergo treatment at facilities without a loved one holding their hand.

A group of creatives in the Helderberg has countered this fate, putting a positive spin on the cancer journey for patients undergoing treatment at Cancer Care at Arun Place in Somerset West. A colourful display and messages of hope greeted oncology patients and staff of the facility on Monday morning (4 October) following a donation from members of Helderberg Painted Rocks.

The group tapped into its creative side to paint more than 250 rocks of care and awareness in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). The donation was delivered by three Helderberg Painted Rocks members, Linda Jonker, Liezel McLennan and Lynette Hunkin, last Friday (1 October).

According to Hunkin, founder of the Facebook group, a call was issued on the social media platform at the end of August, asking members to support the initiative aimed at uplifting and supporting breast cancer patients in the community throughout the “month of pink”.

“We love getting involved with charities in the Helderberg,” Hunkin related. “Although the group was established on the basis of painting and hiding rocks to spread joy and surprises, we also want to get involved and show our support for goodwill organisations in the area.”

Creatives who are part of the group, which was established at the heart of lockdown in May last year, immediately jumped at the chance to show they care, posting photos of their creative progress and messages explaining why they are on board.

“My rocks are for the breast cancer awareness project,” one member wrote. “Thank you for the lovely idea. I enjoyed working on this project. It brought back memories as I had a friend who lost her fight with cancer. You are always in my heart, my friend.”

Another said: “These are my breast cancer rocks so far! I’m painting these with extra care, knowing they’re going to fighters! I have absolutely loved painting these special rocks for special women who need some strength!”

Hunkin, who has plenty of praise for the work of Cancer Care and the luxury of the facility as a whole, shared that one of the women who supported the initiative is also a cancer survivor who underwent treatment at the Somerset West oncology centre. “This initiative really hit home for many of us, as we have all been affected by cancer in some way,” she said. “We can all identify with cancer, so this project aims to show the Helderberg Painted Rocks community cares and is behind you on your cancer journey.”

Members’ overwhelming response to the call led to rocks carrying messages of hope and support being placed throughout the rooms at the facility, with a large display greeting patients at reception.

Carin Schultz, social worker at Cancer Care Somerset West, said both patients and staff were overwhelmed by the beautiful sight that greeted them on Monday morning.

“They feel loved and supported by their community thanks to this wonderful donation,” she said. “Everyone was so excited to browse the rocks and absolutely overwhelmed by the gesture of support and love. Thanks to Helderberg Painted Rocks, they now know that the community supports them on their cancer journey.”

The “month of pink” project follows on the heels of similar charitable initiatives supported by Helderberg Painted Rocks in the basin. Members have also joined projects initiated in support of the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) Helderberg, Somerset West Night Shelter, Heartlands Baby Sanctuary and Cupcakes of Hope for children with cancer. Earlier this year, DistrictMail also reported on the group’s first charitable project, with more than 300 colourful rocks delivered to front-line workers at Mediclinic Vergelegen (“Rock donation rocks their world”, 4 February).

Hunkin said the group will continue painting rocks to hide and spread joy as well as get involved in community initiatives, although they have nothing specific planned for the rest of the year. “From January people can keep an eye on the page to see how we will be getting involved with charities,” she concluded.

V For more information or to approach Helderberg Painted Rocks, contact Hunkin via the Facebook page.

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