Policeman treks from Bloemfontein to Port Elizabeth for cancer awareness

Policeman treks from Bloemfontein to Port Elizabeth for cancer awareness

Retired Bloemfontein policeman Deon van der Merwe took on an epic 600km walk as a tribute to his wife, Johlene, who lost her battle with cancer in 2015.

deon van der merwe in port elizabeth
Facebook/SAPS Eastern Cape

It is difficult to imagine exactly what a person goes through when they are fighting cancer. Loved ones and medical experts gather around to offer support, but the painful elements of the experience are not easily forgotten. 

Those who have to watch family members battle the illness may feel the urge to place themselves in the other's shoes if only to relieve a little bit of the discomfort. 

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Deon van der Merwe, a former lieutenant-colonel from Bloemfontein, experienced this pain and helplessness as he watched his wife Johlene, also a member of the police, taking on cancer. Johlene ultimately lost the fight, but Deon vowed to pick things up where she left off. 

Deon and a few colleagues walked from Bloemfontein to Port Elizabeth to raise funds towards the fight against cancer. 

The epic 600km journey began on 7 May at the Bloemfontein K9 Unite and ended on 24 May at the K9 Unit in Port Elizabeth. Deon and he fellow travellers were welcomed with much fanfare.

The SAPS elaborated on Deon's choice to do the trek: "Deon van der Merwe walked this distance to honour his wife Johlene’s long and courageous fight against breast cancer. [He also wanted] to pay tribute to the caregivers who live with cancer patients, and to inspire and motivate the affected families." 

The 60-year-old ex-cop hopes the walk has brought encouragement and hope to those living with cancer. 

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