Beating breast cancer with early diagnosis
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Durban - Beating breast cancer can be a long journey, but early diagnosis can make all the difference ‒ which is why breast cancer support group Reach For Recovery is offering a limited number of mammograms to women who do not have access to medical aid.
Reach for Recovery is an international breast cancer support group and Durban chairperson, Nirri Moethilalh, said this week that the offer formed part of celebrating Women’s Month.
“Early detection is the key to survival and thanks to our sponsors and supporters, we are able to offer this potentially life saving gift,” said Moethilalh, adding that strict criteria applied.
Now cancer free, Moethilalh was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, soon after she had been enjoying the festive 2010 Soccer World Cup with her family.
She had always lived a “very healthy” lifestyle, exercising regularly, being vegan, not smoking or drinking alcohol.
“I was shocked and terrified. None of my family had ever been diagnosed and I didn’t even have any friends who had had gone through breast cancer. I couldn’t even say the words, I was so terrified,” she said. Her family urged her to accept the diagnosis, telling her “mom, you have to live”.
“I had to accept it for my children and grandchildren. I realised that if I felt sorry for myself, I wouldn’t be able to move forward, but I could face it and God would hold my hand and help me overcome this.
“Cancer can play games with your mind, but you can overcome it. It also made me more spiritual; I started thinking about life, and material things didn’t matter anymore.
“My life changed forever and I think it helped me to be a better human being. I appreciate the small things and feel there is a reason I am here,” she said.
She underwent treatment until November the following year, when she was declared cancer free.
She said that when she first felt a lump, she made an appointment the same day.
“I’m like many people, I don’t like anything medical and I’m terrified of injections, but that day I got up and made an appointment,” said Moethilalh.
Reach for Recovery has been active in South Africa for more than 50 years. Its core function is to provide emotional support to those diagnosed with breast cancer. This includes a trained volunteer visiting a patient the day after a first operation (lumpectomy or mastectomy), providing care bags which include a booklet on breast cancer as well as practical aids to assist in recovery.
“There is nothing more encouraging for the patient at this very anxious time than to see a volunteer who has walked the road of breast cancer, looking fit and fully recovered,” said Moethilalh.
It also offers post-recovery support, such as assisting with breast prosthesis.
The organisation holds awareness talks at hospitals, universities, companies and shopping malls.
Criteria to apply for a sponsored mammogram are:
- Over 40 years of age.
- Have a strong family history of breast cancer (mother or sister).
- No medical aid.
- Have not had a mammogram for more than two years.
For further information or to apply for an application form, email Jenny Caldwell on [email protected] or contact Nirri Moethilalh on 083 784 7770.
The Independent on Saturday