No one fights alone...

First-hand advice for dealing with the side effects of cancer treatments

Monday, August 22 2016

Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing experience, and it is not unusual for people to feel isolated when they find themselves in this position.

“Coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis and all the possible implications can be a daunting prospect for anyone, whether it is from the perspective of the person who has cancer or from that of their loved ones. Social and emotional support are vital aspects of dealing with the disease and developing coping strategies,” says the general manager of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, Louis Joubert.

“As part of our efforts to offer not only cutting edge treatment and a holistic service to patients, Netcare St Anne’s Hospital has teamed up with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) to establish a support group for patients and their caregivers. We believe that this can help people with cancer deal with the impact the disease may have on their lives. Our message to those suffering from cancer is: ‘No one fights alone’,” Joubert notes.

“The first meeting of the cancer support group was held in July and was well attended. Meetings will take place on a monthly basis and the second meeting will be held on Tuesday, 23 August, from 15:00 to 16:00 at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital boardroom.”

“At the meeting, the side effects of cancer treatments and the strategies individuals have come up with to cope better will be explored. Every person’s fight against cancer is unique and also highly personal, and many patients have found innovative ways to reduce the impact of some unpleasant side effects that certain treatments may have, and the meeting provides a platform for sharing their solutions,” Joubert explains.

“People may well have the mistaken idea that a cancer support group is a depressing, morbid group activity. The truth is that a lot of what is discussed at these meetings is focused on life and the strength of the human spirit in overcoming difficulties. The first meeting was an opportunity for attendees to get to know each other, and there was a lot of inspiration and laughter as people started connecting with one another.”

The support group also facilitates discussion and shared insights on the emotional burden of the disease, both for the individual and their caregivers, and strategies for coping with this stress in order to maintain strength for healing.

“The aim of this group is to allow patients to share the insights that have helped them to keep strong in the face of this disease,” Joubert notes.

“One important aim of the support group is to promote self-actualisation in the wake of diagnosis. Many cancer survivors have recounted how they initially felt that the disease defined their outlook, but after some time came to a realisation that cancer does not define them.

“As cancer treatments, and the disease itself, can often have an effect on one’s physical appearance, the support group also offers tips for lessening the impact of the disease on one’s self esteem through aesthetic measures. Many people report that this helps them to feel more confident again,” adds Joubert.

People who are interested in attending the second meeting are requested to book their seat with Shubnum Ismail on 082 360 2590 or (033) 897 5013 or via email on [email protected]. Alternatively, contact the CANSA representative Connie Zuma on (033) 342 9837 or [email protected]. Joining the support group is free of charge.

“It is our privilege to host this support group at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital and help to bridge the gap between cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery,” Joubert concludes.

Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, or Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]