Stem cell donor attempts gruelling 7.4km swim for patients with blood-related cancers

Between the 5th and 9th of April, Christine Roos (29) – a passionate swimmer and philanthropist from Benoni – will brave the cold Atlantic in a 7,4km swim from Robben Island to Big Bay to raise R50 000 for the SA Bone Marrow Registry. 

The historic Robben Island crossing, dubbed the “Island Escape” is described as “gruelling” by elite open-water swimmers, but this has not deterred Christine, who is a novice swimmer.

 To allow for safe weather conditions, a five-day window period has been allocated for the swim.

Christine says the challenge is nothing compared to suffering from a life-threatening blood disorder and not being able to afford the treatment. 

Christine Roos

“The swim is but three or so hours of my life compared to many hours, months or even years that patients suffer with blood-related cancers and often a transplant is their only hope of survival. As a registered stem cell donor, I’ve made it my mission to spread awareness of the life-saving work that the SABMR does and the difference every one of us can make by becoming a donor – be it via word of mouth or pushing myself to the limits.” – says Christine

Christine signed up as a bone marrow donor at a registration drive in Gauteng some two years ago and has been an advocate for bone marrow donation ever since. The same year she also participated in the 947 Cycle Challenge as part of a team of cyclists, where R150 000 was raised for the registry on BackaBuddy.

Christine says the swimming challenge has been months in the making. 

“I have been training in dams and pools around Gauteng every opportunity I get. I have always played competitive sport, so enjoy challenging myself and pushing boundaries. You have to be both physically and mentally fit for this swim. Once your head is in the game, the battle is half won.”  – says Christine

The money raised from Roos’ BackaBuddy Champion page will go towards the SABMR’s Patient Assistance Programme, that provides financial assistance to families who cannot afford the cost of finding a suitable donor.

Christine says she hopes that the public will support her cause on BackaBuddy. 

“I know that times are tough, but I’m asking each and every one of you to give what you can. Even if it’s just a little bit, it all contributes to saving someone’s life.” – says Christine

Kamiel Singh, Head of Sustainability for the SABMR says the NGO has been trying to recoup lost funding. 

“The majority of our physical fundraising events were cancelled last year due to lockdown restrictions, so we’re slowly, but surely trying to get back on our feet. We are extremely grateful to Christine for championing this cause and making life-saving treatments available to more patients. She’s a true hero!”  – says Kamiel Singh

Kamiel Singh
To donate to Christine’s cause, visit her BackaBuddy campaign: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/christine-swimsforsabmr
If you are not able to donate financially, please consider registering as a bone marrow donor with The SABMR here: https://sabmr.co.za/become-a-donor/ 

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