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Heal others by healing yourself with #CuppaforCansa12A

Held at the oh-so-opulent 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa on a breezy, sunny day, the annual #CuppaforCansa12A pink high tea event for 2017 was attended by corporates, media and the Cancer Association of South Africa itself. I left with memories of tear-stained cheeks tempered with tinkling laughter and a physical photo booth print out, as well as an overwhelming sense of goodwill. Here's why...
Despite the deliciousness of the high tea – truly one of the best, and I’m a regular high-tea partaker, so I know my coconutty macaroons from my chic French macarons, #thankyouverymuch – the event was a definite success from a business perspective, with a total of R26,000 raised from the morning. With R11,000 of that from ticket sales at R360 per ticket, a further R15,000 came from raffle ticket purchases on the day, and little wonder with the likes of Jenna Clifford, Granny Goose, Le Creuset and Smeg as sponsors of the prizes*.

Cast your Fomo aside if you missed the event on 28 September – be sure to diarise it for next year, and make your way to the 12 Apostles over the next few weeks, as R25 from every ‘High Tea by the Sea’ sold during the month of October will be donated to Cansa. But I digress…

A strong message to gulp down, with tears and tea

12 Apostles general manager Michael Nel and Cansa corporate relations manager Munnik Marais kicked off by stating that this is one of the hotel’s biggest fundraisers and that the day is by no means about the hotel itself, though it definitely proved itself a worthy backdrop for the morning's festivities. That view of the Atlantic is one of the best and the sea really pulled out a showstopper of glistening waves with glinting crests, sunnily lit.

Attendees were also gorgeous, mainly dressed in pink to fit the ‘pink high tea’ theme of the day – there were spot prizes for best dressed, so it really is worth making an effort to glam and glitz up for the occasion. One of the loveliest on the day was our MC and Mrs SA Charity 2017, Claire Gardiner. Announced as Mrs SA Charity 2017 for raising the most funds in 2016, she just hasn't stopped. Also an internationally qualified aesthetician and founder of the Learn to Fly Ballet Enrichment Programme for underprivileged children Gardiner got involved as an ambassador for Cansa and was in attendance with her eldest daughter, celebrating an exceptional cause.

Gardiner pointed out that the word 'cancer' is bounced around so often that we are now desensitised to it, but when a diagnosis is made, the whole family is affected and all are traumatised. That’s why we need more cancer research, we need more donations and we need more pledges to make a difference in someone else's life.

She says to think of the family that gets to say ‘I beat cancer’. We want more of that but have to do it together and turn our wounds into wisdom, as Oprah encourages. It's only when you get out of your bubble of comfort and start being involved a little more that you heal those wounds, said Gardiner.

There’s also truth to the adage that giving is receiving – not just in giving of wealth but of your time, and the resulting feeling of healing, and gratitude for your own health. None of us can make a new beginning, but we can change our ending, destiny and where we want to go, said Gardener.

The #CuppaforCansa12A was a wonderful way to get this underway. It started as a ripple effect when the audience was asked who has personally heard 'you have cancer'? A handful of attendees stood, with more and more standing in solidarity when the question was broadened to include who had a parent, family member or friend who had been diagnosed. By then, the entire room was standing. Quite the eye-opener, which really brought home the fact that one in four people will now be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

The sweet taste of support

While that sank in we were encouraged to queue at the high tea table, where we were spoilt for choice. We feasted on savouries like mini bobotie pies, elegant slices of sandwich and cream-cheese-y jalapeƱo poppers; but it’s those with sweet teeth who were in for a real treat: The hotel's famous Bea’s cheesecake slices, topped with edible pink glitter, white chocolate-raspberry slices, and rose-vanilla verrine; almond-berry madelines; ganache-y brownie bites; bright berry macarons; mini cheese scones with strawberry jam, swirled cream and tangy lemon curd to smear on top; crisp coffee and chocolate choux puffs; and more. Washed down with all the tea and coffee you could ask for, as well as pink drinks like Muratie’s Pink Lady Alice MCC, this is standard fare from chef Christo Pretorius and pastry chef Gina Marziani for the daily high tea.

Lips now sugar-coated and minds ready to absorb more insights, we heard from cancer survivor Hanlie Botha about how her cancer was discovered, and soon there wasn't a dry eye in the room: Her daughter’s dog was staying with her and kept licking and sniffing her, focusing on a specific area. Not wanting to consult Google, she bravely went to see a doctor and get the facts. She talked us through her recovery process – often just as painful as the treatment phase – and emphasised Gardiner’s point that saying “I'll pray for you,” doesn't help the patient – it's the caring gestures of calling and manifesting those thoughts and good wishes that make a difference.

Dr Melissa Wallace, head of research at Cansa, explained that they fund research at universities across SA, aimed at understanding the cancer burden in the country and optimising cancer care and rehabilitation to the tune of R4.5m each year. There's also a huge need for cancer awareness and education programmes with a lot of stigma out there, for example that cancer is contagious or that it only affects white people. We need better education and support all round.

That’s where you come in. Throughout October, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, R25 per person having high tea at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, from 10am to 4pm will be donated to Cansa. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Care in a cup

The Cancer Association of South Africa's fundraising campaign, Cuppa For CANSA, is an opportunity for friends, family and work colleagues to come together and share a cuppa and help those affected by cancer...

Issued by CANSA 3 Jun 2015

Follow the #CuppaforCANSA12A hashtag on social media and click through to the Cansa press office for more information on the association, and be sure to contact the 12 Apostles’ restaurant reservations on 021 437 9029 or to book your high tea.

*Disclaimer: My raffle ticket was one of those pulled for a Granny Goose prize win.
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About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality. She's also on the Women in Marketing: Africa advisory panel, and can be reached at ...