Breast cancer is the number one cancer affecting women in South Africa, according to the National Cancer Registry (NCR) 2016.
“That is why it is so important that we take care of ourselves,” says Cara Noble, service national relationship manager for The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).
It is recommended that women aged 25 to 39 years go for a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women aged 40 years and older, should have an exam done every year and women 55 years and older should change to every two years.
However, Noble says a lot can happen in between exams. She says it is vitally important that women get into the habit of examining their breasts regularly.
“By the time a woman’s partner finds something, it has usually been there for months. Women need to become familiar with their bodies. If you have breasts, examine them monthly. It is best to pick it up early and get a better outcome.”
Noble is one of four women who will form part of a panel discussion during both an S-Connect Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness webinar on Friday 30 October and at an afternoon high tea at the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town on Sunday 1 November.
Luzelle Yon Lestrade, a breast cancer survivor and internationally certified John Maxwell coach and speaker; Ariella Kuper, a two-time breast cancer survivor and South Africa’s leading female auctioneer; and Dr Windy Dean-Colomb, a medical oncologist and internal medicine and medical oncology board-certified practitioner are the other speakers who will provide insight on topics such as early detection and preventative measures.
The campaign, organised by S-Connect Women, a business networking hub, to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, aims to provide a beacon of hope to women undergoing treatment. All proceeds raised will go to CANSA.
With so many fundraising events cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown, CANSA has faced a significant funding shortfall these past months.
In the middle of lockdown, it had to go through a restructuring and retrenchment process to cope with the financial impact.
Noble says they had to focus on keeping all services, including the 11 CANSA Care Homes, afloat. CANSA provides home-from-home accommodation to patients undergoing cancer treatment at oncology clinics far from their homes.
Guests at the Care Homes located in the main metropolitan areas across the country stay for an average of six weeks and receive meals and transport to and from treatment centres.
With CANSA named an essential service, all of these Care Homes stayed open throughout lockdown.
Noble explains, seeing that the immune systems of patients undergoing oncology treatment are compromised, it was vital that the standard of care and nourishment provided at these Care Homes remained at the highest level.
“Our staff sacrificed a lot. They didn’t go home during the Easter break. They didn’t leave the facility. They were so scared that if they were to go home to their families that they might be exposed to the virus and bring it back to work with them. They went to the ends of the Earth for our patients. We’re so proud of them,” she adds.
She says fundraising events like these held by S-Connect are a blessing to get CANSA’s services up and going.
“We are getting back on our feet, slowly and surely. Next year will be our 90th year of existence and we will be coming back with a bang and doing even more for our patients and their families,” Noble says.
The afternoon high tea will be MC’d by television and radio presenter Zoë Brown. Scar Hair Salon will provide a pop-up Hair Salon for guests to cut and colour their hair pink, nail technicians will paint nails pink. CANSA will provide a help desk. Only 40 seats at R470 each will be available.
To join the webinar online, register at https://tinyurl.com/y6a5hg5d.