You are on page 1of 3

Breast Cancer Survivor

Dragonboat Racing Team supporting

(Association incorporated under Section 21

Registration number 2007/002115/08)
16 November 2010

Etemba Lomoya – Spirit of Hope chemotherapy drugs and a lack of

psychological support for these patients.
Breast Cancer is a disease that has an intense
impact on women: physically, mentally and The current waiting time for surgery and
emotionally. It is my firm belief that this radiotherapy are far longer than
disease can only truly be fought with success internationally accepted norms. By July this
if we address it on all these levels. year, patients were waiting up to 3 months
for their surgery – the first line of treatment.
The Cape Town Breast Cancer Project has
It is not hard to imagine how incredibly
been set up by Dr Lydia Cairncross and me as
detrimental this is to the patient speaking
well as other doctors in the public health
medically, but more importantly, speaking
sector who share a similar point of view with
from a human perspective. In waiting this
regards to disease and wellbeing - aiming for
long for treatment there is a very real
improved patient care within the public health
possibility of the cancer spreading. But not
just that – imagine walking around for three
months knowing that you are carrying around
Breast Cancer is a common problem in Cape
a tumour that might very well kill you – and all
Town – as it is worldwide. We are however
you can do is wait until the system finally has
unique in our significant and ever increasing
time to help you - Devastating, Exhausting
patient load in a fairly resource-limited
and Heart-breaking.
environment. The Groote Schuur Breast Unit
provides an open service to the massive and
We attempted to partially address this issue
expanding greater Cape Town area with
by secondary level hospitals like GF Jooste,
patients coming from as far as St Helena Bay
Somerset and Victoria hospitals providing
on the West Coast. Despite very limited staff,
theatre time and staff to help clear the back
the unit runs a tremendously successful
log – but it has by no means solved the
breast clinic every Friday where more than a
problem. Hence the idea of “catch-up”
hundred patients are seen and assessed by
surgery lists was born - Groote Schuur
international diagnostic standards.
Hospital provides after-hour theatre time in
order to clear a bulk of patients from the
This year alone we have diagnosed more
waiting list. This however, requires funding.
than 500 new patients with breast cancer – a
Although the surgeons and most of the
number that seems to be increasing yearly.
anaesthetists donate their time, locum
This has led to significant challenges in an
nursing staff and theatre consumables still
already constrained system - the lack of
need to be financed. The estimated cost
operating time and delays in radiotherapy
(without surgeons’ fees) is approximately
services are the first and major bottlenecks in
R3000 per patient. We aim to have the
the treatment pathway.
average waiting time for surgery down to 3
weeks by January 2011.
Further down the road we are looking at
challenges like a limited range of
A similar system could also be used to reduce The need is massive and there is a lot of work
the waiting time for radiotherapy. This will, to be done…but we tackle this firmly believing
however, be much more costly – up to that change is possible. This is the Spirit of
R10 000 per patient. A much better and more Hope. Etemba Lomoya.
sustainable solution would be to buy an extra
radiotherapy machine for the oncology unit. Kind regards.

Although all the hospitals currently involved in Dr Liana Roodt

the project provide physiotherapy to all the Medical officer: Department of General
surgery patients, it is only at GF Jooste where Surgery
patients have access to a dietician and buddy- GF Jooste Hospital
support system and get spoilt by receiving a 082 324 3694
pamper pack donated by Project Flamingo –
our main supporter in terms of funds.

Project Flamingo works very closely with the What is ?

amaBele Belles- a team of dragon boat breast
cancer survivors, who also provide “buddies”
Project Flamingo, like many good things in life,
to support the patients during their
started around a good bottle of wine. Eight
professional women belonging to the same
wine club, and getting together once a month
A major concern is that there is currently no trying to solve all the world problems; suddenly
psychological support available for our breast realized that between the eight of them, they
cancer patients (or for any of our oncology actually have all the skills and enthusiasm
patients for that matter). I am of the opinion necessary to really solve some very real
that this is of critical importance: disease is problems! They decided to tackle a topic very
ultimately a battlefield of the mind and we dear to one of their member’s hearts:
are finally also starting to recognize the vital Fundraising for the Cape Town Breast Cancer
importance of the mind-body connection in Project. Project Flamingo has subsequently
western medicine. grown so fast that we are now in the process of
registering as an NGO.
I am of the opinion that we do not address
disease properly unless we take the time and Contact details:
make the effort to ask the right questions – Chryssa Kunneke
the disease process involves far more than 082 336 3773
genetics, physiology, anatomy and bad luck.
More and more reliable scientific research
points to the fact that a significant part of How do the funds help?
disease is the physical manifestation of what
is going on in rest of our lives on a deeper 1. Timeous surgery for newly diagnosed breast
psychological level. Viewing life threatening cancer patients – currently achieved by
disease, and more importantly, treating life funding catch-up surgery lists performed at
threatening disease with this in mind, asks for Groote Schuur Hospital.
radical changes to be made in an already 2. Timeous radiotherapy and chemotherapy for
challenged public health system.
breast cancer patients: We are aiming for
“catch-up” radiotherapy sessions by funding
I hope and believe that we will, by addressing
locum radiotherapists to continue therapy
all the above mentioned obstacles, get to a
afterhours in the Groote Schuur Oncology
place where each and every patient is treated
unit. Ultimately we dream of raising enough
in a truly holistic fashion.
money to purchase a new radiotherapy
machine for the unit that will decompress the
Contact Wendy Scurr on 082 449 0464 or
system load dramatically. if you
3. Pamper packs for breast cancer patients would like to become involved with the
receiving mastectomies at GF Jooste Hospital hospital visits.
on a weekly basis. These pamper packs
contain some cosmetics, magazines and THANKS TO:
educational material on breast cancer.
Judith Jaars, a Belle who has sourced
4. Ultimately we would also like to distribute
these packs to women receiving surgery at many wonderful items for the pamper
Groote Schuur, Somerset and Victoria packs that are given to the patients by Dr
Hospitals. Roodt after surgery and,
5. We would like to raise enough money to pay
Linky Weinronk is a Belle who has
for a fulltime psychologist for the Groote
Schuur Combined Breast Clinic in the oncology volunteered her time to give patients yoga
unit. instruction to assist with the healing
is the fund into
which donations
for the “catch-up” surgeries can be paid. It is OUR 1ST PATIENT…..
into this account that the Belles contributions
have been/will be paid. She is a 58 year old mother and grandmother
who both humbled and inspired us by her
Account details: serene and positive attitude in light of her
FNB Transmission/Current Account impending surgery.
Project Flamingo
She had read up about the operation and
Branch code: 201409
sourced literature about breast cancer. She had
Account nr: 62286389757
already encouraged her niece to have a lump
checked out ASAP.
Although she has a most supportive family, she
was appreciative of our visit which helped to
The amaBele Belles pledged R6,000 after a allay some fears that she had.
radio interview with Dr Roodt. In addition,
the Belles will be giving the amount of Our post-surgery visit happened the day after
R3,000 per month for one year initially, surgery. She was still smiling and confortable.
which will help to make the “catch-up” Both the physio and dietician had already been
to see her.
surgeries at Groote Schuur possible.
We will be keeping in touch with her.
The amaBele Belles are doing “pre” and
“post” mastectomy surgery visits at JF
Jooste hospital in Mannenberg. These take
place on Tuesdays and Thursdays
respectively. Friday visits can be arranged if
the Thursday is not convenient. Ideally, the
same person/s would do both visits.