With over 100,000 South Africans being diagnosed with cancer annually, and more people around the world dying from this illness than TB, Aids and malaria combined, cancer is clearly a force to be reckoned with. To raise awareness of the global impact of cancer and educate the world population on prevention, detection, treatment and care, World Cancer Day is marked annually on 4 February.
“The theme for World Cancer Day 2015 is ‘Not beyond us’, which takes a proactive approach to the battle against cancer. This theme emphasises existing solutions within our reach that impact positively on the global cancer burden,” notes Noeleen Phillipson, Executive: Oncology at Netcare. The 2015 World Cancer campaign will focus on four key areas:
- Making healthy life choices
- Promoting early detection
- Attaining treatment for all
- Enhancing quality of life
To support cancer sufferers, Netcare has teamed up with Cancer Buddies, the peer-to-peer support group for people living with this disease. The buddy support network, which is one of the most established volunteer psychosocial projects in the country, allows cancer patients to interact with and receive advice from cancer survivors who have a similar profile, disease and treatment protocol.
“Netcare believes that a solid support system which complements cancer treatment is vital in fighting this illness. Support groups like Cancer Buddies give cancer patients a way of coping with their diagnosis and improving their quality of life. These groups help to reduce loneliness and loss of hope, which are significant stressors associated with cancer. Participating in support groups can change cancer sufferers’ attitude towards their illness, decrease depression and give them a new lease on life,” notes Phillipson.
In order to show solidarity with cancer patients and promote a healthy lifestyle, Netcare employees will join representatives from Cancer Buddies in distributing food parcels to around 300 cancer patients at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg on World Cancer Day. “Cancer sufferers need to know that they are not alone in this battle. In addition, because 90% of cancers are caused by enviromental and lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and exercise, healthy eating is key,” says Phillipson.
One of Netcare’s hospitals which follows the philosophy that support is vital in winning the battle against cancer is Netcare Unitas Hospital in Pretoria. According to Carina Fourie, Child Support Counsellor at Netcare Unitas Hospital, “We see many children with cancer who come in for medical treatment. They are at a very vulnerable point in their lives, and feel scared and alone.”
“We believe in a holistic approach to care; for example we have arts and crafts workshops run by volunteers for the children and their parents. This gets the young patients and their relatives out of the hospital ward and into a creative space where, for a few hours, they can forget about this disease. I have even had some of the children say to me that they felt as though they were not even in the hospital anymore, they had so much fun,” notes Fourie.
The hospital also has a chemo bell, which each child gets to ring after their last chemo session, to symbolise that they have made it through this stage of their battle with cancer. “We hold a party for each child to celebrate this milestone and award them with a medal for their bravery and courage. It is a very emotional experience,” says Fourie.
“Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 8.2 million deaths globally in 2012. Statistics also show that one in four people in South Africa is impacted by this illness, either as a cancer patient themselves or because they are close to someone who has cancer. A strong support system, along with good medical care, is key in beating this disease,” concludes Phillipson.
Contact Cancer Buddies on 0800 033 337 or visit www.cancerbuddies.org.za for more information on this support group.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Oncology
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Wilson or Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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