honouring late son

Penny Castle lost her son Joshua, who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer known as cholangiocarcinoma. She is honouring his memory by starting a blood drive.


Penny’s son Joshua was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma and given 60 days to live. With the help of blood donations, he was able to live with his family for just under a year. The blood donations gave him 364 extra days to be with his family.

Joshua used his time to advocate for children with cancer. Even though he was bed-ridden for a large portion of his time, he was part of an ad campaign for a local cancer charity, he collected food parcels for a kids’ charity, and helped out at the CHOC Christmas party.

Since Joshua has passed Penny hasn’t been sitting around idly, she has decided to start a blood drive to give back all the blood Joshua needed and to honour him for his birthday.

“Three weeks ago I hit upon the idea of donating blood and trying to replace the blood and platelets that Josh consumed during his illness. Actually, I’ve wanted to donate blood for ages – I’ve just been procrastinating for the last twenty-five years. Turns out it was a non-event.”

“I can only donate blood every two months and platelet (if I get that far) once a month. I really wanted to be able to replace the blood products by 13 August because that would be Joshua’s 16th birthday. The date that he’d be able to donate if he didn’t…well you know. On my own, I’ll get to three units. And I need to replace somewhere in the region of thirty (Shannon says it’s more, but we are waiting for the SANBS to confirm).”

So Penny set up two Facebook groups to challenge people to donate blood and platelets in honour of Joshua. She even set up a group for people who cannot donate blood.

Here’s how it works if you are able to donate blood:

  1. Sign up on the Bloody Birthday Challenge Facebook group.
  2. Take a selfie of yourself donating blood or platelets
  3. Post it to the group and then we count towards the total.

That’s it. Easy! 

Now as expected, most of the first people to respond when I launched this on FB were the folks “who would love to but…”. Alas, though, you lot are not off the hook.

I’ve set up a second group: The Special Bloody Snowflake Challenge. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get someone (or many someones) to donate on your behalf. You can offer lifts, hold people’s hands, even run up behind strangers and steal their blood (although I’m sure that’s illegal so, seriously, don’t do that).

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up to the Special Bloody Snowflake Challenge Facebook Group
  2. Find an unsuspecting victim and ask, plead, bully etc them into donating blood (if you are a position of power it is TOTALLY acceptable to threaten them with poor performance reviews/grades).
  3. Post a picture of your victims donating blood to the group and we will count it in.

It’s super easy.

Penny shared all this information on her blog, My Garden Crush. She started the blog shortly before Joshua was diagnosed and so when he became ill, the blog blossomed from a garden blog into a project that connected families all over South Africa.

Joshua wasn’t alone in his reliance on donated blood. Thousands of people need blood so it is important that we all donate regularly.

Will you be taking up the challenge?

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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