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CANSA Service Spotlight – Sr Anita Schomburg (Registered Nurse)

A Day in the Life of a Registered Nurse

Sr Anita Schomburg

Tell me about yourself…

I would describe myself as kind, chatty, easy-going, passionate, sensitive, organised, artistic and people orientated.

I enjoy meeting new people and am a creative thinker who likes to find alternative solutions for problems.

I had the great privilege to grow up as a child in Skukuza, where my father was the principal of the local primary school. Our family moved to Barberton in 1965, where my father accepted the position as Deputy Principal at Barberton Primary School. I attended Barberton Primary from Gr.1 to 7 and Gr.8 to 12 at Barberton High School.

I started my nursing career in 1977, at Barberton Provincial Hospital and then transferred to Rob Ferreira Hospital (Nelspruit) in 1979. I graduated in 1980 with a Diploma in Nursing. I always had a keen interest in Intensive Nursing Science and decided to specialise in Intensive Care Nursing. I transferred to J.G.Strijdom Hospital (Johannesburg), now known as Helen Joseph Hospital in 1982. I graduated in 1983 with a Diploma in Intensive Nursing Care. I worked in ICU for 35 years and retired in 2016.

I have been a keen potter for 25 years and have my own jewellery range. My other great love is composing music. I started playing by ear when I was 5 years old.

My biggest challenge  at this stage is to keep my brain fit and becoming computer literate.

What position are you in…

I am the Registered Nurse Service Co-Ordinator in Mpumalanga

How long have you been working for CANSA?

Two months.

What do you like most of your position?

  • Variety of people.
  • Flexible working hours.
  • Versatility of being able to do a variety of tasks.
  • Being able to work virtually.
  • Working for a forward–thinking company that realises that their employees are their greatest asset.

What do you find the most difficult about your position?

Counselling newly diagnosed cancer patients on the way forward, and sharing their hopes and fears.

Take me through a typical word day in your life…

  • driving to work from Barberton to Nelspruit
  • arriving the CANSA Care Centre
  • checking for new emails (ZOOM appointments; blood results; brand promotion; assisting with cancer support related queries e.g. requests for wigs, stoma advice or counselling
  • assisting walk-in clients
  • driving home to Barberton

What inspires you?

Mother Theresa has inspired me in my personal life. She dedicated her life to helping others less fortunate, and when I look back on my life, I’d like to have achieved a similar goal.  I believe that her desire to help others made her a great leader.

One of me favourite quotes by Mother Theresa is “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail…”

Tell me about a time when an interaction with a patient or the public made an impression on you…

When I was a post graduate doing my Diploma in Intensive Care, I nursed a male aged 19 who had taken a Heroin Overdose. He was connected to a ventilator and his prognosis was poor. I was doing a 7-day night shift and made a point of it to play music to him on the tape recorder. I played Deep Purple music to him. I used to speak to him telling him the date, day and time of day.

One night while I was attending to him on my shift, I felt a hand touching my back as I changed the music. It was a brief encounter. I really had a fright as he was supposed to be comatose. Nothing else happened again until I finished my shift. I went on holiday not knowing if I will ever see him again.

During my holiday, I received a phone call from him telling me that he regained consciousness and would like to meet up with me. I was so touched. We met one morning at a coffee shop in Johannesburg. He hugged me and was very emotional and thanked me for looking after him and playing music to him.

We will have a lifelong connection… He promised me that day that he will never do drugs again… Unfortunately, I lost contact with him, but I will never forget this special encounter…

CANSA Service

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 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; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

Do you have a question?
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CANSA Tele Counselling

 0800 22 6622 Toll Free
 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans
 071 867 3530 Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati


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