A Caring Community for those Affected by Cancer
25 May 2018 – CANSA commemorates International Cancer Survivors’ Day, on Sunday, 3 June 2018. While CANSA supports Survivors throughout the year, the day is a special opportunity to acknowledge cancer patients (living with, living through and living beyond cancer) for their courage and determination in fighting cancer.
Gerda Strauss, CANSA’s Head of Service Delivery states, “Cancer Survivors need to be supported and encouraged throughout their cancer journey: dealing with the shock of diagnosis and sharing this with loved ones, and also coping with short and long-term side effects of treatment. The day is also an occasion to inspire hope, that cancer can be beaten, and to remind Survivors that they are not alone.”
“Cancer impacts all facets of a Survivor’s life, including social interaction, relationships and perception of performance in the workplace. There are also financial implications to deal with. The collective experience can be so difficult.”
Local CANSA Support Groups
“That’s why CANSA recognises the importance of support groups for Survivors that offer a caring community, and we encourage them to join a local CANSA Support Group, or CANSA’s online support groups. Here patients interact with others who have a real understanding of their life experience, and mutual sharing of coping strategies takes place,” adds Strauss. #CANSASupportGroups #CANSACares
Portia Ntuli, Survivor, says, “What I’ve seen so far in this group is that we share each other’s pain. Most people including friends and family don’t understand that cancer is an illness like any other, because you mention cancer and everybody you thought was your friend disappears. Colleagues shy away from you as if you have a death sentence. Therefore the cancer Champs are the family we need, when we need to be lifted up, or just to vent our fears.”
Survivors Invited to Start a CANSA Support Group
CANSA invites Survivors to inspire fellow Survivors in their own community, by contacting a local CANSA Care Centre and with the staff’s assistance, to start a local CANSA support group. Survivors need a caring, supportive community, where their needs can be addressed, and to improve their quality of life.
Facebook CANSA Support Groups
Patients may not always be able to participate in a face-to-face support group, due to transport or health related issues. CANSA provides support groups on Facebook with facilitators that give information to members, or refer them for support as required.
- Facebook Group: CANSA Survivors – Champions of Hope – for cancer Survivors (patients) and loved ones
- Facebook Group: CANSA Caring for the Caregivers – for caregivers of cancer Survivors (patients)
- Facebook Group: CANSA TLC – Childhood Cancer Support – for children & parents affected by cancer
Cheryl de Wit, a Survivor on the ‘Champions of Hope’ Facebook support group says: “Let’s just say that this group isn’t just a support group, we’re a family to each other. We voice our fears about treatment or check-ups. We can say that we’re feeling down or angry or broken inside. We can rejoice about getting the all clear after another check-up. We can grieve together when another warrior has received their ‘angel wings’. Here we all have voices that get heard. And nobody has got an issue that is too small or too big. We are here for each other and we understand.”
Benefits of Joining a Support Group
Survivors may be fearful of sharing how they truly feel, as they fear misunderstanding and rejection. However, there are clear benefits to joining support groups, whether face-to-face or online, that make it worth the risk. These include fostering a sense of belonging, having access to information, referral to support services, knowledge of patient rights and a positive outlook.
Participating in a support group helps those battling depression and isolation, as they are regularly encouraged and may feel motivated to keep on with treatment, for example, despite difficulties. Knowing that they are not alone, and that others are fighting alongside them, helps Survivors to have a more positive attitude, even in the face of uncertainty.
CANSA supports Survivors through its research projects, some of which seek to improve aspects of quality of life for cancer Survivors.
“CANSA also provides an iSurvivor online Support Programme to guide cancer Survivors (anyone who has heard the words ‘you have cancer’) along their journey and help them cope better (weekly emails).” Strauss concludes, “And we offer a CancerCare Coping Kit programme (CD or booklet) that helps newly diagnosed patients and loved ones cope with a cancer diagnosis.”
CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R12 million spent annually) and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public.
Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support and organisational management; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support.
We also supply patient care and support in the form of 11 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients; a Wellness Centre based in Polokwane; and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.
Visit www.cansa.org.za,or contact CANSA toll-free on 0800 22 66 22 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – follow CANSA on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram. CANSA offers multi-lingual support on WhatsApp: 0721979305 for English and Afrikaans, and 0718673530 for Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati.