Touring to help sufferers

2015-07-21 06:00
Fred Mentjies will be touring in Namibia to raise funds to help cancer sufferers.


Fred Mentjies will be touring in Namibia to raise funds to help cancer sufferers. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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When Fred Mentjies (66) from Riverside in Tokai was diagonised with prostate cancer three years ago he thought all was lost. He gave himself one year to live.

The father of two says when something like that happens it takes everything away.

“It’s such a huge knock. You try to deny it, ask why it’s happening to you. You just literally start counting the days you’re left with to live,” he says.

He vividly remembers he came from the doctor shaken about the news. Being a friend of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and drawing inspiration from him, he gave his friend a call and broke the news to him. Tutu himself has had prostate cancer. What Tutu told him got him thinking.

“In his calm voice he told me to sit and feel sorry for myself or to get up and go. He told me it wasn’t a death sentence and the doctors were good. After those words I had a tremendous decision to make. To sit and feel sorry for myself or to actually do something,” he says.

That’s when the idea of touring to help other people with cancer came to mind. He decided to tour so that he could raise money to help where it’s needed. Last year he and his wife Janey (62), who is also a cancer survivor, toured the Kruger National Park through an initiative that they have called “Fredo touring for Cansa”. They stayed there for 40 days and raised R32 000 to help people living with cancer and others who support people with cancer. After that successful tour they thought to themselves that it wouldn’t end there – it was just the beginning of something big.

Today, they are living for yet another 37 days in Namibia, hoping to be back by the end of August. Their aim is to raise at least R100 000.

“We are so excited about the whole tour. Most of all we want to do it for other people. If it wasn’t for the people who supported me I wouldn’t be here. When you have cancer, you need a warm bed, clothes, support, food as you take your medication, so we are hoping that we will raise this money and help those that are in need. There are others who are less fortunate, so if they are diagnosed with cancer they lose hope. What we want to do now is to bring a new ray of hope to those people and give them courage. To let them know that there are people who care out there and there is the support that they need,” he says.

Fred’s wife says they are excited about the tour.

“We are extremely busy as the days are counting down as we are trying to put everything together. Since we are both cancer survivors, we thought we should do something to help other people as well. We are putting things together and the mind is set for the road. We are doing this so that we help people who might find themselves affected by cancer directly or indirectly,” she says.

Angela Rodi, a community mobiliser for Cansa in Mowbray, says all Cansa’s various departments need funding, so they are glad that people are willing to help.

“There are a lot of things that we do and we need money to keep going. We are happy that something like this is being done and we are seeing a lot of people that are knocking at our doors asking how they can help. We are really grateful. We are in need of every bit of help,” says Rodi.

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