Celebrating International Cancer Survivors’ Day

Wadiah Salie, pictured on the far right, is active in the Mitchells Plain Cancer Association of South Africas Relay For Life.

International Cancer Survivors’ Day was in the first week of June and to commemorate the day the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) held a special event with 100 survivors on Sunday June 5.

Lucy Balona, spokesperson for Cansa, said the organisation strives to guide survivors along their cancer journey, by providing care and support. They do this through various survivor programmes.

Ms Balona said: “Support is aimed at improving quality of life and motivation to fight back. Support helps foster the positive attitude and provide the resources required for survivors to strive to conquer cancer and cope with the disease.”

The association offers a range of services in Mitchell’s Plain and are encouraging people to participate.

The Cansa Cape Metro Care Centre offers a weekly lymphoedema clinic for cancer survivors at the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre in Eastridge.

Lymphoedema is a condition resulting in the abnormal and debilitating swelling of the extremities that can follow breast cancer surgery. Cansa also has a Cansa volunteer trained in basic lymphoedema management for breast cancer survivors who are at the community centre on a Friday who also visits survivors in the community.

The organisation also has four support groups in Mitchell’s Plain, with two groups in Strandfontein, one in Lentegeur and one in Westridge.

Natalie Mackrill, the Westridge support group co-ordinator, is at the Westridge library every Wednesday from 10am till 11.30am.

There is also a satellite office at the FROG Centre in Juno Street, Woodlands, every Friday. Residents can also go to the FROG Centre for breast screenings and if a lump is found, they get a referral letter to the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital.

Ms Balona said Cansa has an active liaison committee in Mitchell’s Plain who does patient visits.

“We have a good relationship with our patients/ survivors. In November last year we had our first Wellness Day in Mitchell’s Plain. We will be having one again this year in November. It is much needed and is welcomed by the community,” she said.

Wadiah Salie, the chairperson of Cansa Relay For Life Athlone, who is from Grassy Park, has been awarded Global Hero of Hope for South Africa, by Cansa at a summit held in Wilderness in the Southern Cap on Saturday June 4. Heroes of Hope helps grow survivorship programmes and aim to inspire and encourage patients.

Ms Salie was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2008 after a yearly check-up. Three months later, by pure chance, she rolled over onto her hand during a pillow fight and discovered what felt like a marble inside her breast.

A day later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatment included a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery which included six months of chemotherapy and nine months of treatment with the medication Herceptin.

In 2012 Ms Salie’s cancer journey restarted as she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which fortunately could be largely removed.

She was then introduced to Cansa through a friend and participated in the very first Cansa Relay For Life in Cape Town which was held in Mitchell’s Plain.

After one year of behind the scenes fundraising, she was asked to join the Cansa Relay For Life Athlone Committee as survivorship chairperson. She has an active annual survivorship programme which includes fundraising events together with survivor beach walks.

Ms Salie became more involved with Cansa and initiated a Shavathon at her workplace, which became very successful and is now in place for three years. She initiated an annual breast cancer awareness event which is extremely successful in terms of educating and raising funds for survivors.

Summing up what motivates her, Ms Salie said: “I am constantly reminded that I am strong enough and giving up is never an option and with this my life will be forever changed”.

For more information about support services and programmes offered, call Collen Marco from the Cansa Cape Metro Care Centre on 082 852 1363.