We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2013 Host a Cuppa for CANSA competition. This year the entries were inspiring and motivating and we were really touched by how many heartfelt stories we received. Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter.
Entries were judged by Suzy Brokensha, Editor of Fairlady. “It was a real privilege to read some of the incredible stories that were behind the Host a Cuppa teas this year,” said Suzy. “I found all of them so moving; from the simple pic of a cup of tea a woman was sharing with her mother at her hospital bed (where her mother had just had a mastectomy) to the incredibly lavish and creative spreads people put on in order to raise as much money as they could to try to defeat the wrecking ball that is cancer. The chaos that the disease has caused in people’s lives and families was clear in every single story: even if the entrants were not cancer survivors themselves, they knew and loved people who were.
It was so hard to choose four stories that stood out. In the end, I selected the ones that I thought best show-cased things that I believe are essential parts of the fight against cancer: humour, love and the deep friendship of other women. Together, we can move mountains.”
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
Suzy selected Fiona and Glenys’ entry as our overall winner – congratulations, you’ve won a R10,000 shopping voucher from Le Creuset!
Suzy also chose 3 runners-up for us, and Le Creuset chose an additional 3 creative and inspiring parties as runners-up. Well done to the following entries, you’ve won six hampers to the value of R1000, each hamper consists of a cake stand and tea pot.
Andrea, Claudine and Jessica
OVERALL WINNER: FIONA AND GLENYS
Suzy had the following to say about the winning entry, “I loved the idea of neighbourliness, community and sisterhood, and that Fiona and Glenys had helped each other through so much. I also loved their humour and optimism, and their go-getter attitude: the fact that they were going blue next year to include men!”
Here’s what Glenys and Fiona told us when they entered: “We have only lived next door to each for about 14 months, but have developed a deep and lasting friendship built on love, support, many tears and lots of laughter. In the short time we’ve been neighbours we have both been diagnosed with cancer. Fiona was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a bilateral mastectomy in November 2012 and Glenys with a malignant melanoma, followed by surgery in April 2013. Sadly this was a journey we had both travelled before. Glenys lost her sister-in-law to an ocular melanoma in 2009 at the age of 34, leaving behind her delightful 2 year old daughter, and at the age of 22 Fiona lost her mother to breast cancer, she was only 51.
Our decision to host a Cuppa for CANSA was spontaneous, and ironically, made over a cuppa tea early in September. We were both very fortunate, in that we were diagnosed early, before the cancer had a chance to spread. Cuppa was an excellent excuse to get together with family and friends, and raise money for a cause deeply personal to us both. The idea was to keep it simple, filled with lots of fun, delicious food, great company, lots of generous donations and to highlight the importance of regular screening. What a great success it was!
The key to this journey is to share it with the people you love. They are the ones who will get you through it; they’ll make you laugh, make you cry, add a smile to your face and laughter to your day.
If we can help one other person then we’ve achieved what we set out to do. For us, this is the start of an annual event and next year we going BLUE! Men, you’ve been warned, we coming after you!”
Here’s the letter that Bev sent us along with her photographs, “I found out I had breast cancer in late February this year. I have a wonderful friend who also had breast cancer and she has been my pillar. She helped me with some of my party goodies, as I had the second stage of my reconstruction done just a week before my party. Being a diabetic with chronic kidney failure I didn’t think anything more could go wrong with me, so finding out I had cancer was a horrible shock!
My friend Janet has been wonderful. She is an amazing woman! All my friends have been amazing. I have been very lucky! I have had support through everything from friends and family. My first chemo nearly killed me so it had to be stopped. I am however on Herceptin and doing very well. I invited almost everyone I knew to my party. Due to it being mid week a lot of people couldn’t make it. But those who did come – and we had two men join us – had a wonderful time. I love baking, love Le Creuset and love having friends over, so this was just up my street.
My theme was Boobs! So I made biscuits with boobs. Some covered with bras some covered with boobtube tops. Janet made some Mammograms for us. For my cup cakes I made bras and panties/bikini’s. We had a cancer Angel on the table. I also incorporated hearts into the theme, and tried to make the colours pink and white. I had some brochures from my oncology centre on the table as well a donation dish for CHOC. My friends were generous! In the pictures, I am the one in blue with short hair – my hair has started to grow back (and I have some curls which I always wished for). Next to me is Janet, my angel friend.”
Cathy sent us the following note with her entry: “Wow, October is a bittersweet month. My beloved husband, Sean passed away on the 06 October 2012, aged 46, after losing his battle with cancer. Our youngest daughter turned 4 on the 21st and my birthday is on the 26th. Bittersweet, tears and laughter!
My mother taught me to bake and she lost her battle with cancer many years ago, so this year, for my birthday, it felt right to Host a Cuppa for CANSA and ask friends to donate in lieu of a present. Over the past year, my friends have been the most incredible support to me and my two girls. I have been able to cry, rant and laugh without judgement and have experienced constant love and care. Out of our grief and sadness, I have come to know some amazing women, who have given me the strength to continue each day, so I wanted to return some of that love and care by baking up a storm and host a tea.
In memory of my mum, I made her chocolate sponge, which I learnt to make at age 6. It’s always a winner and took me back to her baking scented kitchen. In memory of my husband, I made mini lemon cakes and rose scented meringue cake, filled with cream, fresh cherries and strawberries – his favourite and what we had for dessert at our wedding.
In my hardest moments over the past year, I have turned to my kitchen for solace and comfort. Many times, my girls, now 4 and 6, drag a chair to the counter and insist on helping, spreading flour, and sugar around, leaving buttery fingerprints everywhere, but it’s brought smiles and laughter all round, helping in our healing. Now, my girls ask to make “Dad’s breakfast”, scrambled egg on toast and “Dad’s cake” – lemon cake, as they remember those as being his favourites.
My Host a Cuppa for CANSA was a morning filled with cake, love and laughter, my friends generously donated R2750 for Cansa and I feel ready to face the next year, feeling a little stronger.”
RUNNER UP: NATALEY COOPER
Suzy had the following to say about Nataley’s entry, “I’m amazed with everything Nataley’s been through, that she could do anything at all. The story of her relationship with her son (his second mum) and her fear of abandoning him, as well as what he said to her: ‘…who keeps on telling me I am in his heart when I am not with him …’. Was heartbreaking. And then she said she put a smiley face near her name, and that was what clinched it.”
“Nataley Cooper – my story ☺
Just putting a smiley face next to the heading is for me an indication of my growth since that life changing day on 15 May 2013. It has been a remarkable journey indeed. I am a 43 year old mom with a loving husband of 6 years. I have two beautiful daughters out of my first marriage. Ironically I thought going through a divorce would be the most difficult thing I would ever have to do. Upon reflection I realised I had to go through a divorce to meet my now husband and his newborn son. Sadly his wife died 12 hours after childbirth – they had not even been married for a full year. I perceived marrying him and rearing this special boy as my own as part of my life purpose. He is now 8 years old. I am a facilitator at Old Mutual.
My health problems started with anaemia a year ago. Numerous tests later the origin of the blood loss could not be determined and I received pints of blood on 3 occasions. Then in May a colonoscopy was done and a tumour was discovered in the colon. An operation followed to remove this and 8 chemo sessions planned for the part that of the lymph nodes and blood vessels and liver that had been affected, as it had spread to the liver via the blood vessels. This labelled it as a stage four. I remember asking what stage 5, and was told there is NO stage 5. I labelled that day as my darkest day in my journey. My chemo consists of a three hour drip chemo tablets for 14 days. This constitutes to 196 tablets per cycle and just the THOUGHT of 8 cycles was very daunting according to my knowledge of multiplication!
This journey cemented my confidence in my God, myself and my purpose. I am humbled by the support of my employee because I was granted 6 months paid leave to focus on my recovery. The growth in my family has been
– loving support and hugs from my husband – sometimes with no words but it was of our best conversations ever!
– The growing independence of my 21 and 19 year old daughters, talking through their fears and laughing at the funnier side of the side effects made it bearable.
– the innocence of my 8 year old son who keeps on telling me I am in his heart when I am not with him.
I lost my mom at the age of 42 and it was difficult for me. I cannot imagine how it would be for my daughters or to lose two moms before your 9th birthday☺ but I found the strength within myself and within my God to keep on going. I learned anew what means to have FAITH and TRUST is and that my God is bigger than cancer. I joined Relay for Life and the local cancer support groups to share and draw inspiration from others. It is important that people know that if detected early it CAN be beaten.
A journey full of stop signs (to stop and reflect and take stock), yield signs (giving turns to others to make food and care for me), pedestrian signs (family and friends crossing my path), ‘hospital ahead’ signs and minimum speed signs because of low energy levels.
My body is responding well to the chemo – this is a blessing on its own. The side effects are what the word says. A SIDE effect that means there is a response and there is healing. Before every chemo session I have blood drawn from me to determine a certain cancer count. This count halved after the first chemo session. It went from 16 after the operation, to 8, then to 5, then to 3 and is now on 1.5. I still have 2 chemo cycles to go until 8 December where after tests will be done to determine what the next steps will be for the liver. However, I have the conviction that my God is using me as an example to others and this is part of my PURPOSE in life.”
Here’s what Inge had to say about the fabulous event she hosted, ‘What a fantastic day! After the cold front scare on the news the night before, the weather ended up played along nicely! With jazz guitarist, Gerrit Strydom setting the mood; everyone relaxed into their comfy positions on a blanket under the birds and lanterns in the trees. Just within reach, a yummy cupcake, champagne, tea and coffee. For the hungry; beautifully arranged picnic baskets and boerie Rolls were on offer from Jonathan of Willow Feather Farm.
Kids were ushered off to the colouring competition and the petting zoo, which proved to be a hit for guests of all ages! An escaped rooster naughtily pecking away at the strawberries and the curious Alpacas were all too entertaining…
The raffle table was most popular, with everyone choosing their favourites to win. Excitement built towards the draw at the end of the day; many had dreams of a break on the South Coast or re-decorating with designer décor… but there could be only one winner per prize!
All in all it was an amazing, fun, festive and simply beautiful day spent with friends old and new.”
Naquiya told us the following when she entered, “I’m so proud to submit this entry to Le Creuset and Cansa today! I have taken this on as my annual fund-raising project, and I submit this with a warm heart, on two levels; one) it’s brought together a group of ladies who spent their afternoon educating themselves on Cancer, and two) for being able to contribute R20 000 towards Cancer funding and research. Please visit the link below to read the full story and view the pictures from this event: http://www.niqi.co.za/niqi-living-luxe-cuppa-for-cansa-2013/.”
Here’s what Andrea, Claudine and Jessica told us about their event: When we heard about the “Host a Cuppa for CANSA” project we were excited to have a tea party, eat yummy goodies and spend time with family and friends. However, as we sat down to plan our event, we realised how our lives had been affected by cancer. We had lost friends and family and were still saddened by their loss. Yet we all had stories of survivors – those who had fought and won. We decided to theme our event around the memory of those who are no longer with us but to also celebrate those who are still with us and the wonder that is life.
We decided to host our afternoon Ice Tea party at our offices in Johannesburg – a beautifully renovated house with a lovely lawn – perfect for a family friendly garden tea party. Tea cup shaped invites (with a tea bag attached!) were sent out to everyone – encouraging our office to bring their partners and children and join us for a tea party. With only 14 people and 5 currently travelling we were impressed with our office support.
Our beverage of choice was Ice Tea – different flavours with fruit to celebrate summer! And this was a hit with everyone young and old!
We planned our menu around the dishes that our loved ones enjoyed: Andrea’s mom beat breast cancer 7 years ago so Andrea baked her favourite Strawberry Cream Sponge Cake; Claudine’s aunt has been cancer free for 6 years and her favourite quiche is a butternut and feta one, so Claudine made that and our friend Guy, who we lost November 2012, loved sausage rolls so we made sure to include these too. Karen also recalled afternoons with her grandparents eating delicate cucumber sandwiches – so these were also perfect for our garden tea party.
We contacted CANSA to advise them of the event and they came out to support us – sharing pamphlets and information to educated everyone. They also brought their fun hairspray and this was a big hit with the children! Jessica was inspired to cut her ponytail and donate it to CANSA – a lovely gesture!
The sun stayed out and the rain delayed until we were packed away. We all felt very blessed to enjoy such a lovely day in our garden. Between the bunting we hung quotes to inspire everyone to live healthier and to remind us all that cancer CAN BE BEATEN! We created a photo mobile memorial of those who inspired us, who we wanted to celebrate. Between the good food and the refreshing ice tea, we shared stories of the ones who will forever be in our hearts.
We have attached a few pictures to share our day with you. The photos don’t quite capture the warmth and love that we felt on the day. We truly felt closer to one another and more appreciative of the life we have. The playful children were a reminder that life carries on and we must invest in a cancer free future for them.
We raised R1190 which we will be contributing – we’re making a few more attempts at last minute donations. More importantly, we raised awareness of the disease and the impact it has, the need to live healthier and need to support organisations that further research.”
Thank you again to everyone who entered. We were really touched by the efforts and energy’s people went to for Host A Cuppa – colour, hope, love, togetherness are all words that come to mind when people joined forces to make a difference to those going through/have been as well as lost to cancer.