Daughter's death spurs father to cross SA for cancer

2012-03-16 00:00

A DOG bite and a bee sting were not enough to stop 50-year-old Joppies Fourie from walking 3 400 km around the country — pushing a makeshift hospital bed.

Fourie started his journey on October 6 last year, leaving the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn.

On Wednesday he reached Estcourt.

He has passed through George, Cape Town, Springbok, Pofadder, Kakamas, Upington, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Ladysmith.

“I’ve encountered a different South Africa. I haven’t met any danger along the way. People from all cultures and all walks of life have been very helpful,” he told The Witness outside Estcourt yesterday.

“While I’d be out sleeping in the veld, I’d sometimes wake up and find that someone has left some food for me. I appreciated that,” he said.

Inside his makeshift hospital bed, Fourie keeps medical supplies, food, and his laptop, which he uses to update his blog, which can be found at www.tenmillionstepsforcancer.org.za.

Fourie decided to embark on his journey following the death of his daughter, Marlené Fourie.

Marlené died in 2009 aged 17 after being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of cancer found in bone or soft tissue.

“My daughter was my motivation to do this. She lived her life to the fullest, and never complained, even after the diagnosis,” he said.

“Walking alone symbolises the fight that the cancer patient goes through,” Fourie explained.

“During the day, they have a lot of support from family, friends and hospital staff. But, when the lights go out at night, they are fighting that fight alone.”

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