Organisation’s cancer support efforts recognised

Five women who know what it feels like to be diagnosed with breast cancer are helping other women through their treatment at Tygerberg Hospital, and on Monday they were recognised for their dedication.

Hospital spokeswoman Laticia Pienaar said the five volunteers from Reach for Recovery — a support organisation for breast cancer survivors — visited patients daily in the wards offering them whatever help and advice they could.

They had improved the lives of almost 500 breast cancer patients in the past three years.

“In recognising their selfless and at times tiresome work, they were awarded with peer support accolades at the 50th Celebration Conference of Reach for Recovery, South Africa,” Ms Pienaar said.

Dr Karin Baatjes, of the hospital’s breast cancer unit, said breast cancer was the most common cancer among South African women.

“Approximately one out of every eight women reaching 85 years and older are at risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.”

One of the volunteers, Yolanda Barry, is a 50-year-old breast cancer survivor.

“Since I was treated I wanted to plough back in the community and want to teach ignorant people how cancer can affect one’s life,” she said.

“I have been volunteering at the hospital for five years, and I am very excited about the award received.”

Cora Swano said it was very important for every woman to examine her breasts regularly.

“It might not be cancer, but prevention is better than cure.”

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and said support from a patient’s family was an important part of their recovery.

“We at the Tygerberg Hospital Breast Cancer Unit are very pleased and grateful towards the volunteers of Reach for Recovery who themselves as prior patients are now supporting new breast cancer patients,” said Dr Baatjes.

To find out how you can become a breast cancer peer support volunteer or assist the organisation, contact Reach for Recovery at 072 433 0127 or