Cancer survivor Mita Groenewald, of Kuils River, says the help of an all-female non-profit organisation made her feel like a woman again, following her breast prostheses surgery.
Mita is encouraging women who are battling with the disease or those who have recovered, to get involved with Reach for Recovery, which she says has the “tools that help women live a normal, healthy post-operative life”.
The 50-year-old mother of four was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma, the second most common type of breast cancer, in December 2018.
In July this year, she was admitted to Tygerberg Hospital where she underwent a single mastectomy.
Mita was introduced to the non-profit while attending one of her appointments before the surgery.
She says the group sessions of sharing stories helped her.
“These all-female volunteers, all of whom have previously battled breast cancer themselves, would come into the waiting rooms and introduce themselves. They’d give us advice and share their stories so that none of us felt alone.”
Before her surgery, Mita admits she was very emotional. “I was fortunately surrounded by my supportive family and friends who helped me believe that this (cancer) could be beaten.”
As one of South Africa’s oldest breast-cancer support organisations, Reach for Recovery has provided over 5000 women with silicone breast prostheses. This is under the auspices of The Ditto Project, a prosthesis provision and fund-raising initiative launched by Reach for Recovery in 2011.
Mita was one such recipient who purchased her own prosthesis for R80.
“I was surprised by how comfortable I was at the fitting for the prosthesis. It’s so comfortable, and everyone thinks it’s my real breast – you cannot tell them apart,” she says.
“I was very depressed when I was first diagnosed, and I asked God, ‘Why me?’,” says Mita, who admits that she originally did not want to undergo the mastectomy.
Asked what advice she has for someone who has just discovered they have breast cancer, she says they should be positive and understand that “it’s not the end of the world; it can be treated”.
Mita says that after her diagnosis, she built up the courage to say to her cancer, “You are not a permanent part of me – you are just a word. I will beat you!”
Mita says organisations such as Reach for Recovery are important because there is still a lack of understanding about breast cancer in South Africa.
“People seem to only pay attention to the disease when someone close to them gets diagnosed. Organisations such as this are helpful to the community so that panic doesn’t strike when that happens because people are empowered with more information and have more understanding.”
If you would like to be part of this initiative or donate you can visit www.givengain.com