World Cancer Day is a global event, taking place on 4 February every year and presents an ideal opportunity to raise awareness about cancer. The theme of this year’s World Cancer Day ‘We Can. I Can.’ highlights the importance of collective and individual responsibility in addressing the burden of cancer. In line with this theme, the Cancer Research Initiative (CRI), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town (UCT), commemorated World Cancer Day by discussing breast cancer research findings with community members in Strandfontein on Saturday, 6 February 2016.
Associate Professor Jennifer Moodley (Director, CRI), noted that the CRI is committed to engaging with community members in its research endeavours to address the growing cancer burden. Findings from a research project on Pathways to Breast Cancer Care being undertaken by Prof Moodley in collaboration with Dr Lydia Cairncross (Department of Surgery, UCT) and Dr Thurandrie Naiker (Department of Radiation Oncology, UCT), were used as a basis for the community discussion. Dr Lydia Cairncross urged women in the community to know what normal is for their breasts. Common signs and symptoms of breast cancer were discussed. Wendy Scurr and Piliswa Mazikwana (Project Flamingo), both survivors of breast cancer, spoke about their personal experiences. Wendy advised women in the community to seek help and support as early as possible. Martin Poole (Project Pink Flamingo and amaBele Belles) also emphasised that support is available for women with breast cancer through organisations such as Project Flamingo. By raising funds and with the invaluable support of volunteers, Project Flamingo provides pamper packs for all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at the Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) Combined Breast Clinic and has sponsored catch-up surgery at GSH, reducing the waiting time for live saving mastectomies.
Women from the community participated enthusiastically in the discussions that followed and were keen to learn more about symptoms and risk factors of breast cancer. The women left feeling encouraged and committed to talk more openly about breast cancer.
We can. I can. Make a difference.
Compiled by The Cancer Research Initiative, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town.