Media Releases & News

Heroes Inspire HOPE

Heroes Inspire HOPE

5 May 2012 – Relay For Life (RFL) helps communities across the globe celebrate the lives of people who are fighting cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease. It also offers a network of International Heroes of Hope (IHOH) who are determined to make a difference in saving lives by sharing their story and leading the fight against cancer. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is proud to announce that this year 14 countries participated, 42 submissions were done and 32 new IHOHs have been selected – of which three IHOH are from South Africa.

International Relay For Life Heroes of Hope is a global cancer survivorship initiative involving the selection of Heroes of Hope from across the International Relay For Life participating countries. Through International Relay survivors are given the spotlight to show that there is life after diagnosis. These ‘International Heroes of Hope’ inspire other community members who have been touched by cancer. They’re a testament to the progress that has been made in the fight against cancer and are changing the face of survivorship worldwide.

Afrikaanse Persvrystelling

SA’s International Heroes of Hope 2012

This year’s three South African representatives are Kobus Smit (Mosselbay), Obie Woolward (Worcester) and Kedibone Bonoko (Gauteng). Danielle Didi Coertze from George was also selected, but sadly passed away on in April 2012 at the young age of 18.

Danielle Didi Coertze

Despite being diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) in 2001, she made a conscious choice to live to the fullest and reached one of her goals of attending her end- of-year school dance. Her motto used to be “I deserve life, everyone in the world deserves the life they have and I will never let cancer take that away from me. I will be great in my life and I will never take my life or anything in it for granted. “ Read more about Didi…

Kobus Smit

Kobus Smit

Kobus Smit has a personal history with the disastrous effects of cancer on a family – having lost a father, mother and eldest brother all in one year to three different types of cancer. This motivated Kobus Smit to become a dedicated volunteer for CANSA. Eighteen years later, Kobus was diagnosed with cancer himself, in March 2008. This gave him a new understanding of this international number one killing disease and he became an even stronger campaigner for CANSA, becoming a full-time spokesperson and volunteer. Photo right: Kobus, cancer survivor.



Obie Woolward

Obie Woolward

When diagnosed with cancer, Obie Woolward’s children were only 9 and 13 years of age – they went with her that day.

Ten days after her left mastectomy she was informed that she had Paget’s disease and had to undergo a second mastectomy within two days. She’s thankful for the wisdom to realise no matter how small her contribution towards life and fellow men are, a change in one person, is a change in the world. Photo right: Obie, cancer survivor.


Kedibone Bonoko

Kedibone Bonoko was diagnosed with cancer of the womb at the age of 30. When the gynecologist told her that she only had three weeks to live, her world came tumbling down. Today, Kedibone lives a positive life –  her new career and lifestyle is surrounded by helping people living with cancer. She is now a CANSA Relay For Life Survivor Chairperson for Jeppe High School for Boys and the Relay For Life on Ice at Northgate.

Kedibone Bonoko

“We’re truly honoured to have these very special people being selected as our representatives in our country for CANSA and Relay For Life to spread the message of HOPE,” says CANSA CEO, Sue Janse van Rensburg. “These people are the faces and voices of victory over cancer and reinforces why we do what we do on a daily basis.” Photo right: Kedibone, cancer survivor.

They join the previous years’ cancer survivors and loyal volunteers designated as International Heroes of Hope – Cenessa Stork from St Lucia in KZN, Jana du Plessis from Bloemfontein, Thembi Ngwenya from Nelspruit and Rita Naidoo from Durban. Find out more about RFL here…

“Carrying a powerful testimony of survival and strength, these Heroes of Hope can spread the message of hope and courage to cancer survivors worldwide. These extraordinary people serve as beacons of HOPE to all cancer patients and survivors in our country. As a voice and ambassador of CANSA, they’ll increase awareness of CANSA’s life-changing work, its mission and grow Relay For Life participation, ” concludes Van Rensburg.


CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R6 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public.

Our wide-reaching health programme includes prevention and education campaigns, CANSA Care Centres that offer stoma and lymphoedema clinics, medical equipment hire, toll-free line and support to children and their families affected by cancer. Patient care and support in the form of 13 CANSA Care Homes and the main metropolitan areas plus one hospitium (based in Polokwane) for out-of-town cancer patients as well as CANSA-TLC Lodging for paediatric oncology parents.

About Relay For Life

Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight experience (organised  by a volunteer committee) in which teams of participants take turns walking a track overnight in an effort to fight cancer. At more than 70 South African Relay events nationwide, communities celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer, remember loved ones lost and commit to fight back against the disease. Relay began in USA in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest global movement to end the disease. Each year, communities worldwide in 21 countries (Including South Africa) gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer.

Relay For Life begins with a moving Survivors’ Lap. This inspirational lap honours the courage of all who live with cancer. Cancer survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer) join together to take the opening lap – unified in victory and in hope.  The atmosphere of Relay For Life is one of camaraderie and celebration, providing an opportunity for cancer survivors and caregivers to pass the torch of hope on to those still battling cancer or those that might be touched by cancer in future.

Queries CANSA

For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA or email:, call 011 616 7662 or cell: 082 459 5230.  Or visit or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22, or email:


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