Breast cancer survivors: ‘let us help you’

2019-07-11 06:01
=THE Reach for Recovery breast cancer support group in Uitenhage has a new committee consisting of (from left) Priti Prag (fundraising), Wendy Davids (chairperson), Estelle Botha (treasurer) and Grace de Maar (secretary). Absent: Eleanor van Niekerk (vice chairperson).                                               Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

=THE Reach for Recovery breast cancer support group in Uitenhage has a new committee consisting of (from left) Priti Prag (fundraising), Wendy Davids (chairperson), Estelle Botha (treasurer) and Grace de Maar (secretary). Absent: Eleanor van Niekerk (vice chairperson). Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

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REACH for Recovery (RFR) is built on a simple yet universal principle, namely that a woman who has survived breast cancer, assists and supports other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It takes guts to approach other women who are in the same situation where you once were,” said Estelle Botha, who for the past 14 years has been the chairperson of the Uitenhage Reach for Recovery group.

She established the Uitenhage RFR group in 2006 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Uitenhage group is one of 25 RFR groups in South Africa.

RFR volunteers have since the late 1960s been instrumental in this non-profit organisation, to render an emotional care and practical support programme to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

“Every moment of my journey has not been without cancer sticking its head out,” said Estelle.

“I have learned to embrace it. And to do what is necessary with strength and sheer will of mind with God at my side and my dearest husband Theunis, to fight this.

“Over the years I have seen our group grow into these beautiful ladies who walk the extra mile when they are volunteering.

“We raise breast cancer awareness talks in all the different communities, clinics, schools, church gatherings as well as factories. And yet we still are finding that women don’t know how and when to check their breasts.”

Prosthesis and bras

The volunteers follow up on the patients as to how they are doing and for the fitting of a prosthesis and a bra if needed. This is possible thanks to the Ditto project, which is funded by the Mushroom Farmers Association.

Through the years Estelle has done the fitting and will now be assisted by the newly elected chairperson, Wendy Davids and volunteer Rachel Brinkhuis, who will cover the Rosedale and surrounding areas.

Wendy previously was involved at the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) as a volunteer before she was diagnosed with breast cancer during 2016.

“Estelle came to visit me in the hospital. She walked the path of recovery with me. Her support inspired me to become a volunteer and reach out to other women diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Wendy.

Public’s support needed

Reach for Recovery receives no state funding and each of the branches does its own fundraising.

“We cannot render our voluntary services without the public’s support of our fundraising projects. Therefore we encourage the community to please support us,” said Estelle.

Volunteers needed

Reach for Recovery is affiliated to Reach to Recovery International (RRI) which is a comprehensive non-medical programme created to help women with breast cancer.

The Reach for Recovery breast cancer support group of Uitenhage is in need of women volunteering to be of service in KwaNobuhle.

Stephne Jacobs, RFR national chairperson said, “Volunteers are the lifeblood and backbone of our organisation. We simply could not deliver the services to our patients without them.”

The new committee members of the Uitenhage group are Wendy Davids (chairperson), Eleanor van Niekerk (vice chairperson), Estelle Botha (treasurer), Grace de Maar (secretary) and Priti Prag (fundraising).

Grace said her involvement with RFR is all “about giving back, paying forward and to help. I’ve been there and what I’ve learnt in my breast cancer journey, I want to share with others so that their journey can be a little bit easier.”

Priti previously was involved with the local Cansa branch when the well-known Anita Bray was the chairperson. She later started to volunteer at RFR and during 2016 was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I am a breast cancer survivor. I did my volunteer training to now give freely of my time and experience to assist and support another woman with breast cancer.”

  • For more information about RFR contact Wendy Davids (chairperson) 074 357 6063 or Estelle Botha (treasurer) 083 650 6200.
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