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CANSA Social Workers Make a Meaningful Difference

CANSA wishes all our social workers a very happy World Social Work Day! This day is celebrated each year in March to recognise the hard work, dedication and important role that social workers play in the lives of vulnerable families and communities. Thank you to each and every one of you who make a difference in the lives of our patients, and their loved ones, on a daily basis.

The theme for this year is “Ubuntu: I am Because We are – Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness” emphasising the social work perspective of connecting with people and their environment.

Our CANSA Social Workers share why this profession is important to them:

Elize Joubert – CEO of CANSA

“I am proud to be qualified in a profession that enhances human well-being and helps to meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable such as our cancer patients and their families. This profession equipped me with strong problem- solving abilities and analytical skills, effective communication skills, professionalism and good judgement and built my resilience to stress. Best career decision I could take!”

Gerda Strauss – Head: Service Delivery

I went to university as a handpicked student to join the Drama department (my first love) BUT I turned at the doors of the faculty and decided to follow my passion – to be there for people who need support. After I completed my Honours Degree, I started my career at the Correctional Services, as part of a multi-disciplinary team. This opportunity showed me the thin line between right and wrong and I saw the fruit of professional rehabilitation programmes. In 1991, 30 years ago, I joined CANSA as a social worker. Here I learned from cancer patients to live in the moment, what the word coping means, and that HOPE is a golden thread visibly woven through their day-to-day journey.”

Naasiha Dada – Service Delivery Coordinator, Cape Metro

“I chose to become a social worker because I wanted to live a purposeful life. I wanted to be of benefit to my community and surroundings and I wanted to feel like I was doing something fulfilling with my days. Being a social worker at CANSA helps tie together so many elements of the things I’m passionate about, namely, women empowerment – being able to support and uplift women through health education, accessibility of screening and pre / post-operative care, mental health – to be able to provide much needed psycho-social support to people awaiting test results, patients, caregivers, family members and those grieving the loss of a loved one from cancer and lastly assisting patients from difficult socio-economic circumstances, or with a general lack of resources, by empowering them with information, liaising with hospitals on their behalf or providing medical equipment where possible. I appreciate the safe space CANSA has created, the appropriate platforms and the resources to best support patients and caregivers. I feel like an added resource, and CANSA has facilitated this.”

Agnes Maree – Service Delivery Coordinator, George

“I absolutely love being a social worker- especially in the health care environment. CANSA offers me the opportunity to offer a wide variety of support to both the patient and those important to them. This includes conducting home visits, helping patients, and their families, establish effective palliative care at home, seeking the Oncologist’s advice regarding the patient’s symptoms and proper medication as well as preparing for the end of their lives and providing bereavement care for those who need it. I take my job very seriously because in most cases I am the only link between the patient and the oncologist. Very rewarding and I’m thankful and privileged to be a part of the CANSA team.”

Lee-Anne Roeloffze – Service Delivery Coordinator, George

“Maatskaplike Werk was nooit my eerste keuse as beroep, maar ek het nog altyd geweet ek wil graag met mense werk en hul bemagtig met die nodige hulpbronne tot hul bereik. Dit was eers toe ek as ‘n gekwalifiseerde maatskaplike werker in die veld self begin werk het, dat ek besef het dat die Here het my geroep om hierdie werk vir hom te doen, en tot vandag toe nog voel ek dat in elke werksgebied waar ek geplaas word, was en is daar ‘n duidelike doel en rede daarvoor. Dit is vir my ‘n groot voorreg om tans daagliks as ‘n maatskaplike werker te kan werk by KANSA. Ek dink die grootste geskenk wat enige iemand vir iemand anders kan gee of oordra, is hoop, en dit is wat KANSA bied vir mense daar buite, nuwe hoop en verligting om die pad voorentoe te kan stap elke dag.”

Gretchen Minnaar – Service Delivery Team Coordinator, Paarl

“My journey at CANSA started in 2010. I left my previous job and one of my gifts included a card with the following verse on it: Matthew 5: 16, “Let your light shine so that people may see your good deeds but praise your Father in heaven.” On my first day at CANSA, my manager gave me a welcoming gift, a pencil with the verse Matthew 5: 16 on it. My job as a social worker at CANSA is so rewarding, having the honour of supporting cancer patients and their families through difficult times. It enables me to touch, empower, educate, advocate, help, inspire, and encourage people to take control of their cancer journey, to make informed decisions and to face their fears. To be the light that shines when cancer patients have lost hope.”

Tanya Johnson – Service Delivery Coordinator, Paarl

“I always wanted to be in a helping profession, following in my mother’s footsteps. An experience, with a social worker, as a teen was the catalyst and a driving forces that made me want to be a social worker. To correct injustice, gain a deeper understanding of people, family structures and the communities they live in and how these factors can have an impact on someone. To assist people in overcoming stresses as well as empowering individuals with knowledge. CANSA provides me with the opportunity to connect and interact with people on different levels, to educate others, continuously educate myself and to be there for someone in their moment of need – just to be an ear that listens, where they can unload.”

Naomi Philander – Service Delivery Coordinator, Paarl

“I have always been interested in helping people. Social work was a perfect fit because it empowered me to see myself as a change agent who could make a difference in people’s lives. I chose Social work because it is a profession that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of society and the people that it helps. Social work is always varied, it’s challenging, it allows for creativity and requires a vast number of skills all while helping people and making an impact on their lives. In 2012, I carried out my social work practical with CANSA where I spent 2 days a week with cancer patients to assess how they were coping through their cancer journey. I learned so much from this experience. I started working for CANSA in 2018 where I could use the knowledge of support I gained for other people and their families as they battle with health and emotional issues. I want to be that social worker who goes the extra mile to ensure our patients have all the support they need and to be there for families if their loved one passes away.”

Ramphosi Shawe – Service Delivery Coordinator, Mpumalanga

“I became a social worker because I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. After having noticed that at risk populations need the most help but, have the hardest time getting it. They need someone who can make their voice heard and advocate for them. My father was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and lost the battle the same year. During his cancer journey my family and I were clueless about his diagnosis and the doctors never explained anything to us until his last days. It really hurt and made me wonder how many more people are going through what we just experienced. That’s the day I decided to join CANSA – with the intention to educate and support individuals and families affected by cancer. The aim is to make a difference in my community.”

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