Peo­ple has heart

AN NPO needs your help to bat­tle the silent killer.

People (South Africa) - - Contents - BY ROBERT CLUNIE

FOR as much as can­cer is a phys­i­cal blight, it is just as rough a time emo­tion­ally, and while Can­cer Bud­dies can’t (or not just yet) fund the treat­ment for those who need it most, they can pro­vide some­thing just as im­por­tant – emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal com­pan­ion­ship. They sup­port and guide the ill through­out their con­va­les­cence at no cost at all, em­pow­er­ing pa­tients, care­givers and fam­i­lies.

The peer-to-peer sup­port net­work was es­tab­lished in 2002 by Carl Lieben­berg and Linda Greef. Brett Simp­son, the CEO, a sur­vivor of squa­mous cell car­ci­noma, is heav­ily in­volved in this project. He was first di­ag­nosed in 2007. Brett and the Can­cer Bud­dies team bring up to 15 years’ worth of ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with can­cer and they know bet­ter than any other that a rock-solid sup­port struc­ture is paramount. The Can­cer Bud­dies team is there­fore more than ca­pa­ble to guide, ed­u­cate and sup­port those who are poorly. Think of it as a per­son­alised ser­vice for can­cer pa­tients.

The NPO of­fers one-on-one sup­port, prac­ti­cal ad­vice and guid­ance in tack­ling the im­pact of a can­cer di­ag­no­sis and nu­tri­tional and life­style changes in over­com­ing phys­i­cal, emo­tional and men­tal ob­sta­cles on the road to re­cov­ery.

“What makes Can­cer Bud­dies so unique is that newly di­ag­nosed can­cer pa­tients are matched with sur­vivors trained to of­fer sup­port and guid­ance. This en­ables can­cer pa­tients and their loved ones alike to come to terms with their can­cer jour­ney with­out feel­ing iso­lated and over­whelmed,” Simp­son says. “The land­scape of how we cope with and heal from can­cer to­day is chang­ing tremen­dously quickly thanks to new and ground-break­ing psy­choneu­roim­munol­ogy, epi­ge­net­ics placebo speaks emo­tions af­fect our to ef­fect, and how phys­i­cal and think­ing our which the science in be­ings. oth­ers, my can­cer the Like di­ag­no­sis im­pact so many of was psy­cho­log­i­cal an emo­tional roller­coaster. and For the first time in my life I was faced with the fear of death and, more sur­pris­ingly, my fear of whole­hearted liv­ing.” It is be­cause of this that Brett made a self­less shift so that he might help those who bat­tle the ex­act same psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional demons that plague a can­cer pa­tient. “When I had the op­por­tu­nity to meet with a can­cer sur­vivor – some­one who un­der­stood my fears, in­se­cu­ri­ties and my spe­cific can­cer, be­cause they had walked in my shoes – it changed my per­spec­tive. I then un­der­stood that ‘can­cer’ doesn’t mean death and I was able to shift my neg­a­tive thoughts and nur­ture the hope I had left and use it to heal.” With all of the suc­cess thus far, Brett fig­ured it a great idea to reach a new de­mo­graphic of­ten med­i­cally over­looked by oth­ers – the 8.15-mil­lion-strong Xhosa com­mu­nity. He was in­spired by Nel­son Man­dela’s cen­te­nary and Breast Can­cer Aware­ness month in Oc­to­ber to, along with the help of the Can­cer Bud­dies team, set up a cam­paign to as­sist the oft-over­looked group. In fact, Can­cer Bud­dies has found that sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions pre­dom­i­nately cater to English and Afrikaans-speak­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

With their cam­paign they are look­ing to raise an ini­tial amount of R100 000 to bol­ster both their ef­forts and see to it that their pro­fes­sional staff are paid for.

“As a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion deal­ing with can­cer, a dis­ease that af­fects one in four South Africans in one way or an­other, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to bridge the lan­guage gap and branch out to lower in­come ar­eas who could use our sup­port. With the funds raised from our Back­aBuddy cam­paign, we will be able to em­ploy re­tired on­col­ogy nurse Marta Booi for 12 months to an­swer our toll free help line in Xhosa, trans­late our web­site, and to adapt our so­cial me­dia strat­egy to in­clude both English and Xhosa con­tent. The funds will also keep Can­cer Bud­dies op­er­a­tional for the next four months.”

As of Oc­to­ber 2018 the fund has raised R13 785.67.

Brett Simp­son, CEO of Can­cer Bud­dies

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