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Debbie

I have more than 20 years of Marketing experience, including 6 wonderful years as Marketing Director for Levi Strauss South Africa (Pty) Ltd, where my passion for giving back was born in line with their business ethos that “doing good is good for business”.  As part of the Levi’s® Red for Life programme, we tested over 350,000 people for HIV, and it was only natural when I left Levi’s that I would join NGO Shout-it-Now in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

If I were rich, I’d be a philanthropist – right now I’m a serial entrepreneur and marketing consultant, working in industries ranging from chronic healthcare to sustainable furniture design and manufacture to yummy, healthy breakfast cereals!  I co-founded a successful research business which does sensory testing, am the MD and founder of Starlight Media, an online competitions platform that donates 30% of its profits to charity, and still when my long-time friend Jenny de Oliveira first approached me with her dream of launching CheckKnowPrevent, I knew I had to be involved.

My personal journey with cancer reflects the sad truth that 1 in 4 of us will be affected by cancer – and not only once.  I lost my cousin at 32 to oesophageal cancer and my grandmother at 68 to lung cancer.  My father has been living with recurrences and metastases from prostate cancer for more than 10 years, my stepfather just had a lucky encounter with a rare form of skin cancer (in that it had not spread), and my best friend of 30 years is both HIV+ and a colon cancer fighter.  I could add acquaintances and colleagues that have triumphed over and succumbed to the battle with cancer.

I believe strongly in CheckKnowPrevent’s focus on early detection saving lives, and assisting those engaged in battle with practical support, and am extremely proud to be part of this organisation which I believe will make a significant difference in the fight against cancer.

Jenny De Oliveira

I come from an Advertising background, specialising in promotions, experiential marketing, product launches and events. During my 20 years in the industry I have worked on many blue-chip brands, with well-known marketers and local celebrities, where I have gained my knowledge and experience.

I started my own business in 2009 as a corporate clothing specialist, focussing on innovative ways to deliver clients’ product needs through fashionable styling and branding techniques.

In 2012, my partner and I developed the CheckKnowPrevent concept after doing a charity breast cancer drive, opening my eyes to a huge need in our country.

My motivation, inspiration and determination has come from family and friends who are fighting cancer and those who have lost the battle. My 1st hand experience with cancer is when my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer and how it still affects her today.

All my experiences have brought me to this pivotal point – translating my passion into making a difference in people’s lives.

My vision behind the CheckKnowPrevent bra range is:

  • Early detection of cancer saves lives - so know your body, and when to seek help.
  • Education is key, so the bra will serve as a constant reminder to check one’s breasts and encourage women to start at a young age.
  • Buying our bras also benefits the community, as funding will be utilised to assist those affected by cancer who need real support.
  • Through keeping our manufacturing local we will be able to create employment and teach the skill of making bras.

A psychologist once said to me FEAR, REJECTION & RESCUING is my downfall – RESCUING is in my nature - however, the important lesson is to ensure that I rescue the right people by helping them overcome their difficulties and fears. I have decided to turn fear into fuel and claim to rescue as my calling.

Tiny Buddha says Fear is:

“An opportunity for self-discovery and self-growth; a well of untapped personal power and strength; the gateway from wishing and wanting to doing and being.”

Mother Teresa, my superwoman, dedicated her life to rescuing:

“It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.” – Mother Teresa

Jenny De Oliveira quote:

“Being humble in life means knowing that we are not on earth to see how momentous we can become, but how we make a difference in the lives of others.”


Roland Jonathan

My 19 years in sales and marketing has led me along the interesting and exciting path, that has certainly driven my entrepreneurial spirit, my ability to work individually as well as being part of and managing a team. The latter part of my Brandhouse experience has opened my working experience to work on both local and international brands. The local brand particularly exposed me to regular engagement cross functionally and particularly with the board of directors. This stood me in good stead for my future endeavours with global brands as well as along my entrepreneurial ventures. The competencies that I achieved across Above, Through and Below the line communication, classic brand marketing, digital marketing, mobile technology and international marketing management, were indispensable. I also have a strong sales, trade marketing, key account management and CRM background. All of these roles are performed at both representatives as well managerial levels.

 

Working for multinational groups such as BAT, SAB, Heineken, Brandhouse and Diageo has given me the insights and practical experience to operate at a level of excellence within the corporate organizational environment. It has also allowed me access to market dynamics and insights locally, regionally across Africa and internationally. Having operated in both the sales and marketing environments has also further exposed me to both sales and marketing training programmes, which balanced my strategic, operational and financial outlooks and expectations for both short-term brand performance and strategic and business objectives. I embarked on a journey of entrepreneurship in 2011, which led me down a different path of understanding and appreciation of the principles of Business.

 

At the end of 2014, I was struck by a devastating blow. I was diagnosed with stage 4 follicular lymphoma. I had been walking with a tumour for 2 years, which eventually measured 18cm across x 11cm deep x 15cm high at the time of my diagnosis. This was because it had not shown any visible signs or any of the usual “cancer” symptoms. I thought that this was the end of my life. Well, it certainly was the end of my life as I knew it. This opened up a whole new meaning in life for me. I learned more about myself in this short space of time than I ever learned in the preceding years. In April 2015, I had a stem cell transplant. I did all the research that I could about it, but at no stage was there any information about what happens after you are discharged from the isolation ward. It took me a full 2 years after, to recover to some state of normality (which is not abnormal). Whilst this process was happening, I decided that I want to actively get involved with giving back and educating people about the cancer journey.

 

In 2018, in steps Jenny De Oliviera, back into my life. She proposed this amazing opportunity with Check Know Prevent. This brand encompasses all that I am looking for, in my vision of giving back and sharing my cancer journey. The vision and mission of Check Know Prevent, ideally align with my vision for giving back. The one thing that I have learnt, through my journey with all due respect, is that as great as the oncologist or the haematologists maybe unless they have experienced chemotherapy, they can tell you what the physiological expected outcomes are, but they will not be able to talk you through the psychological or physical impact the journey will have on you. 

 

I had 2 mantras through this journey, for the first half it was “I will fight, I will stay strong, I will survive” and in the second part and going forward “I have survived because the fires inside me, burnt brighter than the fires around me”. I have seen people lose the fight, not only because they give up, but because they don’t necessarily know or understand what they are going through or need to do for themselves, and this is what I want to share with people who think that cancer will never affect them, current cancer sufferers, as well as the people that become caregivers to cancer sufferers, as these are the people that are often overlooked during the journey.

 

Check Know Prevent, adequately covers all of these aspects. Education around early detection, support whilst going through the process, as well as support for caregivers and families that are challenged by cancer.

Lorraine Verhagen

My name is Lorraine Verhagen and I am 55 years old.  I am married with two children and love the outdoors. I do CrossFit, run and mountain biking. I'm an absolute sucker for punishment.

No pain, no gain.  I am currently employed at Group Editors Company Pty Ltd. I have been at this company since 2010. I am the PA to the Operations Director and Marketing Executive.

I am very involved in the community of George. I am also the current Chairperson for 'CANSA Relay For Life,' George.  

The relay has done exceptionally well in the Southern Cape. We received Global recognition this year, making our Relay the best in the world and I was congratulated during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces for my immense contribution to fighting Cancer.  I am also very involved in charity events organised through the George Herald.

I also received  Rotary's highest meritorious award, the Paul Harris Fellowship award. The Paul Harris Fellowship is the Rotary Foundation's way of expressing its appreciation for a substantial contribution made to humanitarian and educational programmes.

My love for charity work and its people has no boundaries.