Multi-lingual cancer support

2018-10-29 09:37

Helping cancer patients deal with the effects of their disease is at the heart of Cancer Buddies’ work. But now, the non-profit organisation is looking to reach even more patients through a crowdfunding campaign.

Cancer Buddies, based in the Cape Town CBD, offers one-on-one support, practical advice and guidance in tackling the impact of a cancer diagnosis and nutritional and lifestyle changes in overcoming physical, emotional and mental obstacles on the road to recovery.

“What makes Cancer Buddies so unique is that newly diagnosed cancer patients are matched with survivors trained to offer support and guidance. This enables cancer patients and their loved ones alike to come to terms with their cancer journey without feeling isolated and overwhelmed,” says Brett Simpson of Cancer Buddies.

Carl Liebenberg and Linda Greef, both cancer survivors, realised that speaking with someone who had survived their cancers was the best help they received in their journey, explains Simpson. This inspired them to start Cancer Buddies 15 years ago to help others process their journey and cancer treatment.

Simpson himself is a cancer survivor, after being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma cancer a decade ago.

“I had cancer in 2007 and it changed my life completely. I realised I had a lot to live for and wanted to help others process their emotions and mental states of being with cancer, because of how challenging and painful it was for me. I also studied and became a cancer-specific coach four years ago so that I can share all I have learned about how we as cancer patients can influence and make changes to our lives that support and enhance our healing. It took cancer to find my life calling as a healer of sorts,” he says.

“As a non-profit organisation dealing with cancer, a disease that affects one in four South Africans in one way or another, we have a responsibility to bridge the language gap and branch out to lower income areas that could use our support.”

The Cancer Buddies team has created a campaign on donations-based crowdfunding platform Back-a-Buddy, to raise R100000 to extend their service offering to the Xhosa community.

Over their 15 years of service, the team at Cancer Buddies has realised the importance of offering support in one’s mother tongue, explains Brett Simpson of Cancer Buddies.

“We as English- and Afrikaans-speaking founders and team members have realised the importance of being able to get help in one’s mother tongue. Having manned the phone/toll-free line for only 10 days I could not help five people and had to get someone who could speak Xhosa to speak to some of our callers. We need to change this and cater to all of our South African communities.

“We have over eight million Xhosa-speaking people in our country which is more than native English-speaking South Africans. Those facts speak volumes in how we need to grow our service into other communities and languages.”

Over the past 18 months the organisation has taken over 600 calls and at the present, 75 Buddies are supporting over 250 people, Simpson adds.

With the funds raised from the Back-a-Buddy campaign, the organisation will be able to employ a retired oncology nurse for 12 months to answer their helpline in Xhosa, translate their website, and adapt their social media strategy to include both English and Xhosa content.

For more information, visit or the Back-a-Buddy page at Alternatively, call the toll-free number on 0800 033 337.


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