Increase the awareness of breast health; promote education and treatment; provide support in respect of breast health.
- Create breast health awareness in the community.
- Ensure individual access to information.
- Potentiate access to appropriate healthcare resources.
- Ongoing audit of operational effectiveness.
- Offer emotional and informative support.
MEET THE TEAM
Karen Venter (46) is the lovely office assistant at BHF who takes care of the accounts and administration. Residing in Johannesburg, she joined the team in 2012. “I enjoy the environment and it’s wonderful to see the difference my colleagues make in people’s lives.” Karen’s advise to people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer is visit a breast specialist as soon as possible!
“Be strong, there’s always hope!”
Louise Turner (46) is the Chief Operations Officer at The Breast Health Foundation. Twelve years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “When I was diagnosed everything changed – a whole different world opened up for me. I met the most amazing people, because of breast cancer.” As a firm believer in the starfish principle, Louise says her job is very satisfying. “I trust that our efforts will make a difference to someone, somewhere in the world. People don’t have to go through everything all by themselves with no support and no educational infrastructure, that’s why BHF is here!”
According to Louise South Africa’s social dynamics are such that, for every one woman who survives breast cancer, many more lives are affected positively. “That’s because there’s a husband or partner who is not widowed, children who are not orphaned, extended family members who are not grieving and countless friends who are educated.” Louise’s advise to people diagnosed with breast cancer is that it too shall pass.
“Breast cancer is just another bump in the journey – it’s hell, but you get through it. Live life, don’t simply exist!”
Ntokozo Dludla (42) is an avid palliative care worker and counsellor who strives to make sure breast cancer patients get the best care possible. Although the work can be emotionally draining, she loves her job. “My work is about supporting people to live their lives despite sometimes end-of-life diagnoses. I became a social worker to support people to live their lives as fully as possible despite limitations.” Ntokozo’s daily duties include assessment, counseling, liaising with local resources and agencies, training and development activities, and staff support. Being a breast cancer survivor herself, Ntokozo knows that cancer is dark and gloomy, but says there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
“Know your body so you can pick up any changes. Do regular self-diagnoses. When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, go for proper treatment and continue until the whole process is done. Life is a journey, whatever challenge you encounter is simply like a season and it shall pass.”
Boitumelo Masilo (42) is a breast cancer counsellor from the district of Sebokeng in the Vaal Triangle. Her duties include travelling throughout the region to help with the early detection of breast cancer. “It’s tough for women to hear they have breast cancer, they often cry and don’t want to accept it. But I comfort and help them to get through everything.” Since 2013 Boitumelo has been a breast cancer survivor. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy for the third time after cancer has spread to her liver, lungs and bones. “I love my job, because through personal experience, I can share my story with others and educate them even better.” Her advise to people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer is don’t avoid treatment!
“If you avoid treatment the cancer is most likely going to spread and it’ll be worse than the initial diagnoses. Do your self-examinations every seven days before your period and every seven days after, and get your annual mammogram!”
Moipone Sibiya (39) is a community educator in the Vaal Triangle who facilitates breast cancer patients in surrounding areas, including Emfuleni, Sedibeng and Midvaal. In 2003 at only 26 years of age she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. “I felt a lump in my left breast and immediately went to my local clinic. I was referred to Baragwaneth Hospital to undergo several tests. I first had my surgery, then six months’ chemotherapy, followed by radiation treatment. Finally finished my treatment in 2010 and fortunately has been in remission ever since.” Moipone joined BHF four years ago. “I counsel young women. After first hand experience with this disease, it’s very gratifying to be able to help others going through something so difficult.” Moipone’s message to women out there is:
“Anything can happen at any time in life, stay confident and ask questions if you feel uncertain about anything.”
Rosalind Ludolph (56) is passionate about volunteering to help others facing a cancer diagnosis. For the past 11 years, she’s been a breast cancer survivor, who has been involved with the Breast Health Foundation (BHF) for more than five years.
“I work in rural areas across the Western Cape, educating people and referral them to Groote Schuur Hospital for breast mammograms.” Rosalind enjoys working with people and says raising awareness and sharing her knowledge of self-breast examination techniques results in earlier detection, which is essential for improving breast cancer survival rates. According to Rosalind it’s important to be positive in life.
“Breast cancer is not a death sentence, there is life and hope after being diagnosed.”
Pearl Makhalemele (51) is a breast cancer counsellor from Soweto, Gauteng. Her work involves various clinics and churches, where she meets with newly diagnosed patients and does referrals to Helen Joseph Hospital. Pearl says she finds it quite challenging when newly diagnosed patients don’t understand the processes associated with breast cancer. “They would often go to traditional healers or get herbal treatment, then they would go to the clinic when the cancer is too advanced – usually by that time nothing can be done to help them.” Sixteen years ago, Pearl was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I had pain in my left breast and went to my GP, who referred me to a surgical specialist. I had all the tests done; the final results indicated breast cancer. I had surgery, six chemotherapy sessions and then radiation. For the next five years I continued with hormonal treatment.” Unfortunately, 10 years later the cancer has spread to Pearl’s lungs. She is now undergoing chemotherapy again.
“It’s very important to get treatment once you’re diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Pearl. “Do your annual examinations and please take care of yourself!”
Philile Dladla (39) resides in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal where she is a proud volunteer for the Breast Health Foundation. With a passion to help others, she is pursuing a BA degree in Psychology through Unisa and hopes to
graduate in July 2018. Philile joined BHF when their branch opened in Durban in 2011. Her duties include counseling patients at Albert Luthuli and R.K Kahn Hospitals. “I
educate the public on breast cancer, breast health, increase breast cancer awareness and empower women,” says Philile.
“There’s no work more fulfilling than educating and empowering women with regards to breast health issues and breast cancer.” Some of the challenges Philile face, especially in the rural areas, are a lack of infrastructure and transport to and from clinics.
“It’s very important to get to a doctor as soon as a lump is discovered. There are steps to follow and treatment is of the essence! When you discover anything foreign in your body, you have to go to the breast clinic to approach the health workers and tell them about your discovery, so that you can be treated accordingly. Love yourself and take care of yourself!”
- Number of Breast Issues/ lumps found 910
- Number of malignant lumps 469
- Number of women directly impacted by volunteers1 134 866
- Number of clinic visits by all volunteers 575
- Number of patients navigated 8 033
- Calls (Public meetings) by all Volunteers2 195
Written by Elsje Smit.