The power of hope and support for people with cancer was celebrated at a Cancer Survivors Day event hosted at Netcare Parklands Hospital recently, the culmination of an initiative to raise funds for the Cancer Association of South Africa’s (CANSA) Mkhula Care Home.
“It was a life changing moment; a huge and devastating shock when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2018,” says Kasturi Pillay, a breast cancer survivor and accountant at Netcare Parklands Hospital who shared her personal cancer survival story at the event.
|Pic: (Left to right) General manager of Netcare Parklands Hospital Thea Janse van Rensburg is pictured with breast cancer survivors Kasturi Pillay, who is an accountant at the hospital, and Zeidah Koobair, founder of the Queen B’s Foundation Breast Cancer Support Group, as well as nursing services manager Simphiwe Nene at the Cancer Survivors Day awareness event recently hosted by Netcare Parklands Hospital.
“You have to be strong in body and mind to beat cancer. My husband and family at home and my colleagues at work were always supportive and encouraging me to get through treatment, be strong and beat this disease,” says Pillay, who has been in remission since May 2019.
“Being diagnosed with cancer is enough to break you, as I know from personal experience. Only by the Grace of God have I come through what I have after being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer 20 years ago at the age of only 32 while breastfeeding my laatlammetjie son,” adds Zeidah Koobair, a fellow breast cancer survivor and founder of the Queen B’s Foundation Breast Cancer Support Group in Queensburgh.
“Having faith, and the support of someone who really understands what you’re going through, as well as family and friends, are invaluable to getting through daily life with cancer and all that comes with it. As a cancer warrior, I believe I have a purpose to help support other people going through a similar situation and raise public awareness to improve survival rates,” she says.
“My wish is that all that receive today's message do the necessary checks, get started on treatment, if necessary, and not be afraid of the outcome,” Pillay adds.
Netcare Parklands Hospital general manager Thea Janse van Rensburg thanked Pillay and Koobair for sharing their recovery journeys to emphasise the importance of early diagnosis through regular cancer screenings.
“Early diagnosis and initiating treatment before cancer cells have spread further or cause noticeable symptoms is linked to better outcomes. Take the time to make an appointment for a pap smear, mammogram, or prostate cancer screening and discuss your risk factors with your doctor, as a few minutes now could add years to your life in the long run,” Janse van Rensburg says.
“There is so much more that can be done to treat cancer and improve quality of life these days, particularly with a multidisciplinary team of medical and radiation oncologists and specialists including general surgeons, gynaecologists, ear, nose and throat [ENT] specialist, gastroenterologist, paediatric surgeon, pulmonologist and urologist.”
A multidisciplinary team (MDT) in oncology is defined as the cooperation between different specialised professionals involved in cancer care with the overarching goal of improving treatment efficiency and patient care. This team may differ based on the type of cancer being reviewed.
“Every cancer journey is unique, and the person and their family are at the centre of every carefully considered clinical decision. We aim to ensure a tranquil, caring and convenient cancer care service to support each person individually, and whatever stage of cancer a person is facing, they never face it alone,” Janse van Rensburg says.
Netcare Parklands Hospital’s extensive cancer care includes a radiation unit providing advanced, high dose rate brachytherapy, external beam radiation therapy, intensity modulated radiotherapy, volumetric arc radiotherapy, stereotactic irradiation, radioisotope therapy and deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH), as well as total body irradiation for bone marrow transplant candidates.
“A patient navigator, who is a specially trained registered nurse, is dedicated to guiding each person and their loved ones through all aspects of cancer care to help eliminate unnecessary stress so that the person can focus on recovery,” she says.
“Assisting patients and their families holistically includes supportive or palliative care to manage distressing symptoms more comfortably, where needed, and aims to enhance quality of life as far as possible at every stage for people with cancer. Our supportive care team works with the person’s primary treating doctor to relieve pain and provide around the clock care and support as may be needed in end of life situations.”
Sessions with the “Look Good Feel Better” programme are regularly hosted at Netcare Parklands Hospital, providing a comfortable and emotionally supportive environment where women are pampered and can learn tips for managing the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
“There is more hope for better outcomes than ever before, and we stand in solidarity with everyone whose life has been touched by cancer. Awareness is the most important tool for improving cancer survival, and we encourage everyone to take a proactive approach to safeguarding their health with the recommended cancer screenings for your age and gender,” Janse van Rensburg concludes.
Notes to editor
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