Isolation Broken through Access to Online Support
In June, CANSA acknowledges cancer Survivors (patients) and celebrates their courage, and resilience in the face of cancer treatment and side effects, which are often experienced well beyond treatment. #InternationalCancerSurvivorsDay
Gerda Strauss, CANSA’s Head of Service Delivery reflects, “For many cancer patients and caregivers, the cancer journey is a lonely one. Although the people in their lives may try to support them, it’s difficult to fully comprehend the impact that numerous side effects of diagnosis and treatment (physical, psychological and spiritual) may have on an individual.”
Many patients believe that they are not able to honestly express how they feel to acquaintances, loved ones or colleagues, as they may be seen to be looking for sympathy, when they are in fact expressing the reality of how side effects of treatment impact them on a daily basis. Fatigue, chemo brain, depression and chronic pain are genuine side effects of treatment which may interfere with a patient’s ability to cope with certain aspects of work or life during or following treatment. Added to this is anxiety or ‘scanxiety’ experienced when annual check-up dates loom, as patients may fear a recurrence. Caregivers may also easily become isolated from loved ones due to the demands on their time and energy levels that caring for a cancer patient entails.
“It’s important to provide an affirming, safe space where patients and caregivers may connect with others walking a similar path and express their genuine experience without fear of judgement. This connection and affirmation of their experience enables them to share valuable information and coping tips with each other and to break the isolation imposed by cancer. So we invite Survivors (patients), loved ones and caregivers to join our CANSA Facebook Support Groups,” Strauss continues.
CANSA Survivors – Champions of Hope for cancer Survivors and loved ones to share their stories and encourage each other; CANSA Caring for the Caregivers: for Caregivers of cancer Survivors who share their stores and encourage each other and CANSA TLC Childhood Cancer Support: for parents of children / teens affected by cancer who share their stories and encourage each other.
Other CANSA online resources include the iSurvivor support programme that provides guidance along the cancer journey through weekly emails to cancer Survivors. CANSA’s CancerCare Coping Kit helps cope with a cancer diagnosis in a booklet or downloadable link off our website. CANSA further offers Fact sheets informing patients and loved ones regarding types of cancer, risks and symptoms and coping with treatment. View these online resources on the CANSA website.
Individual Counselling & Support Groups
CANSA’s Care Centres offer care and emotional support through individual counselling and support groups to cancer Survivors and their loved ones. Support is also provided in the form of WhatsApp Groups. Contact your local CANSA Care Centre for more information.
“Patients and caregivers needn’t feel alone due to the online and face-to-face support CANSA provides. We also encourage them to find out more information about CANSA Relay For Life in their community through local CANSA Care Centres and to connect with others fighting cancer,” Strauss concludes.
CANSA’s Global Relay For Life Heroes of Hope for 2019 are ambassadors of CANSA, creating awareness of the CANSA Relay For Life programme and CANSA as well as being beacons of hope to cancer Survivors and caregivers, inspiring courage and determination to fight the disease.
Helen Ann Southey, (Global Hero of Hope in Kimberley) says, “CANSA Relay For Life has enriched my life. It’s an honour to meet fellow Survivors and to celebrate life with them. We must celebrate life as Survivors and show people that life can continue despite a cancer diagnosis. I want to inspire people and give them realistic hope to continue in the fight against cancer.” #CANSARelayForLife
Monica Lotter from Robertson in the Cape shared that when she was diagnosed with breast and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the staff from CANSA were such a big part of her lives, always willing to answer questions or just to listen.
She adds, “Cancer is a fact and fighting it, is my mission. Making people aware of early detection, healthy living and a balanced lifestyle is so important and I would like my children to, for the rest of their lives, always fight cancer and be there for others touched by it.”
For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email email@example.com. Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.
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 also supply patient care and support in the form of 12 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.
Visit www.cansa.org.za or contact the nearest CANSA Care Centre, call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to online resources and Facebook support groups, CANSA offers multi-lingual support on WhatsApp: 072 197 9305 for English and Afrikaans and 071 867 3530 for Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati. Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA (http://www.twitter.com/CANSA), join CANSA on Facebook: CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa and follow CANSA on Instagram: @cancerassociationofsouthafrica and LinkedIn.