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The Vodacom Bulls will have even greater motivation in their Pink Game clash against the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday after the players and management joined sponsor Vodacom and answered Jacaranda FM’s Good Morning Angels call to help a woman suffering from breast cancer in a fight that’s far bigger than any rugby match.

On Jacaranda’s Good Morning Angels show on Wednesday this week, it was revealed that Annelie du Plessis had reached out on behalf of her twin sister, Adéle, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for the extremely aggressive triple negative breast cancer.

Adéle, a single working mother of three children who lives in Standerton, was diagnosed in June. Since July she has had to get up at 3am and travel from Standerton to Pretoria for treatment at a government hospital every week. She usually only returns home at 8pm. Much like so many women in South Africa, Adéle is amongst the most medically vulnerable with no medical aid to support her. Her sister reached out to Good Morning Angels to simply request petrol vouchers for Adéle to ease the financial pressure of her travel for treatment.

But as Vodacom and the Vodacom Bulls are celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, culminating in Sunday’s Pink Game at Loftus Versfeld, they decided to do far more for Adéle and donated R100 000 to support her.

“I’m really sorry, Adéle, for the situation you’re in. My heart breaks for you. You’re an incredibly strong and brave and beautiful woman. All women are aware of breast cancer, but I cannot think of that moment where you discover a lump. It must be terrifying. I don’t have petrol vouchers for you as your sister requested. But I am hoping that R50 000 will go a long way in helping the situation,” Michelle van Eyden, Vodacom’s Executive Head of Sponsorship, announced live on air.

At this point, Vodacom Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee walked into the Jacaranda FM studio.

“Adéle, your story really touched us as a team. As a group of players we want to give you R25 000 from the players’ side, and hopefully also a win this weekend. We think we’re fighting a fight on the field, but there are bigger fights out there and we’re so proud of you. We back you and are behind you,” he told her.

Coetzee was no sooner done than the studio phone rang.

“Hi Adéle. This is Jake White, coach of the Vodacom Bulls. When I heard about what our players are doing to support you, I thought from a management point of view that we’ll also add to this support and donate R25 000. It’s the least we can do for you. As Marcell said, there are bigger fights than rugby games, and hopefully we can help to get this disease out of you.”

A tearful Adéle was almost speechless from the support she received.

“I am so grateful. I have three kids aged 18, 12 and four and I am a working mom. The chemotherapy days are the hardest days. It’s still a long road ahead for me and I am so thankful for the support. There are so many people out there who are very sick with this disease. I urge people to please get tested regularly. I was diagnosed early, and the doctors have all told me that early detection really does help so much in the treatment of breast cancer,” she said.

Both the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks will play their part in supporting cancer awareness in this Sunday’s match, which kicks off at 15:00. The Vodacom Bulls, who will wear their pink jersey, will be playing for CANSA while the Cell C Sharks will play for PinkDrive as they support the vital work of these two organisations and the mobile screening clinics they have nationwide.

Both teams will also have the photos of fans who have suffered from or are fighting breast cancer on the backs of their match-day jerseys, and the entire stadium will be awash with pink.

“As a team we try to touch people off the field as well,” said Coetzee. “Myself and my teammates will wear our pink jerseys with such pride on Sunday.”

There’s no doubt that one of the biggest rivalries in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship just became even more personal.

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