Cancervive, the dynamic project of People Living With Cancer, embarked on its colourful annual cancer awareness ride for 10 consecutive days during the month of September. Upon our return, we reflect on the impact of this internationally hailed education and awareness campaign that has now spanned 6 years.
Our entourage of survivors, supporters and crew, transported in generously sponsored motorbikes and vehicles received a spirited send-off from the SABC 3 Expresso Morning Show studios during our first ever live TV launch. This presented an opportunity for our organisation to reach a wider audience before engaging one-on-one on the road. We thereafter rode straight into the heart of this initiative, which is to provide a shoulder to lean on for anyone undergoing the cancer journey.
The first of our caring sessions took place in the wards of Red Cross War Memorial Hospital in Cape Town where all admitted children were treated to bedside visits and gifts from our sponsors, which were handed to them by our survivors and supporters. This same sentiment of sharing and caring characterised the rest of our journey as we gave of our time to patients living with cancer at Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth where we entertained and educated through song and dance on the hospital’s lawns and later at the newly-built Oncology Unit of Frere Hospital in East London with its doors open to us to engage with men and women who had travelled long distances from villages, townships and the immediate urban community to receive much-need cancer treatment.
The cancer journey is often lonesome and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to offer hugs and the simple words of encouragement, “You are not alone” to those who desperately long to hear them, not only at hospitals but also at various facilities such as the Missionvale Care Centre, in Adelaide and the homes of young cancer patients from the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, whom we visited.
A sad day for us – Tobeka Daki a HER2+ breast cancer survivor and our Face of the FTPL campaign for trastuzumab passed away earlier yesterday at her home in East London. Tobeka was not provided with the option for the treatment with trastuzumab at public hospital level. Although this treatment is available for the public sector at a negotiated price, many treatment centres are not able to provide this treatment due to the high price of the drug. It is currently only available at one public sector hospital in the country, thus exacerbating the issues around inequitable access to cancer treatment. We are in process of a submission to the Minister of Health in this regard at their request.
We are aware that there are many more similar stories such as Tobeka’s and we want you to share this with us. It is our mission to advocate and lobby in a responsible manner for equitable access to cancer treatment for all South Africans.
To all the Cancer Alliance and FTPL members that were able to support Tobeka and her family in her last days – THANK YOU. This is what partnerships are all about.
TOGETHER WE CAN – it is not beyond us.
CANCER ALLIANCE EXCO:
Nersan Govender, Linda Greeff, Liz Gwyther, Alana James, Elize Joubert, Adri Ludick, Salomé Meyer, Esme Pudule
“Nusha Loubser” ~ Photographed by Tracey Derrick
50 years old, | Hairdresser | Vredenberg
Diagnosed: 1st November 2005 – mastectomy, chemotherapy and tamoxifen for five years.
“The worst was losing my hair and being so tired, yet we believe all things are possible like the Word of God reminds us in the Bible.”
“Cassiem Rayghanah” ~ by Tracey Derrick
50 years old | Liaison specialist | Heideveld
Diagnosed: 5th August 2005 – lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation & tamoxifen for five years.
Second diagnosis: 15th June 2009 – cancer lesion in breastbone. Radiation, chemotherapy and femara estrogen suppression. Liaison specialist. Heideveld.
Member of amaBele Belles breast cancer dragon boat rowing team!
“We like to think of ourselves as a floating support group because we’re fighting a communal battle with dignity and commitment.” 2009
From Tracey’s 1 in 9 seminar paper, continued from yesterday’s post:
“I agree with his [Richard Avedon] sentiments but it is also about directing the photographic situation and the challenge is still to try and capture a moment, the communication between myself – the photographer – and the subject. As Kuhn says, “The face stands in for the person’s whole being, the subject’s essential humanity is seen as inhabiting the face, the ‘window of the soul’.” (1994:37).
Photographs function in constructing and encouraging particular ways of viewing and telling about the world. The photographs of breast cancer survivors – Alicia and Suzanne (above), Cassiem and Siona (not shown) – are woman that I have met during my breast cancer process. My projects have always developed over a period of time, influenced by the people that I have met along the way and interacted with. These photographs reflect in part my relationship with them.”
DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE AMABELE BELLES!
Friend them on Facebook here!
SURVIVAL OF 1 IN 9
sure | viva revival | arrival
sure – positive, certain
revival – renewal, recovery, resurgence
arrival – appearance, presence, homecoming
“In this new body of work, my working method has changed in two ways. When photographing myself I have exchanged a manual camera, and working in black and white, with a digital SLR camera photographing in colour and learning the computer skills associated with it. The other difference is when photographing women who have survived breast cancer I have used a medium format camera. This has changed my approach because I use a tripod, which slows down my movement, and so my own presence is obvious, and the photographs have become more staged.
Richard Avedon says, “…portraits are performance, and like any performance, in the balance of its effects it is good or bad, not natural or unnatural. The point is that you can’t get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. The surface is all you’ve got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface. All that you can do is to manipulate that surface – gesture, costume, expression, radically and correctly.” (Richard Avedon Portraits, 2002).
Alicia Quinteros: Mother & Jeweller. Cape Town.
44 years old, diagnosed 15th September 2008. Lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation.
“We’re always working towards ourselves, changing, aging, growing, being born again.” 2009
Today’s photograph from Tracey Derrick‘s body of work, 1 in 9, is a photograph of the plaster cast she made of her chest, post-mastectomy. Through the tender replication of her chest, she somehow manages to both powerfully AND gently obliterate the media’s ‘requirement’ for women to ‘build themselves back together’ into a state of ‘normal femininity’ —- and instead presents us with a portrait of herself simply as she is: pure, unencumbered, real and unutterably and beautifully herself: unique!
Whether we choose reconstruction, to wear breast prostheses or go breast-free, the power of choice lies in our hands: it is our choice, and our choice alone.
If you would like to share your story about your post-mastectomy body
and your new, YOUnique normal,
please pop us an inboxed message on Facebook!
RESOURCES & IDEAS:
ART THERAPY BLOG: Activites & Ideas
EXPRESSIVE ART WORKSHOPS by Shelley Klammer
- We love the idea of art journalling as creative ‘self therapy‘ (click here to read more!) but the website is full of other wonderful ideas – and we recommend signing up for her very helpful and inspiring newsletters too!
“After breast cancer treatment this identity of ‘desirable object’ becomes confused because the ‘traditional’ nude, as an idealized object of male desire, clearly precludes any possibility of illness or ‘imperfection’ and denies the ‘unacceptable’ hidden truths within, for example, the scars, a single breast, lumpy breasts, false breasts; changes that women live with after treatment. Through the media, the ideal woman is ‘put together’ and defined by appearance.
Artist Jo Spence was especially concerned with the breast as an object of desire, as a device for nourishing babies, and finally in her case of breast cancer, as a possession to be placed in the hands of the medical institution. This is exemplified by her photo of her breast, marked with a pen “Property of Jo Spence?” where she appears to question her rights over her own body, using the breast as a metaphor for women’s struggle to become active subjects. Following her *lumpectomy, she documented the appearance of her scarred breast, thereby challenging traditional representations of that subject. In one image she documents the struggle between her everyday appearance (revealing her scars), and the glamorous representation of women – signified by the Hollywood-style sunglasses and the seductive pose and drape of her blouse off her shoulder. (1986:157)
*Lumpectomy is surgery in which only the tumor and some surrounding tissue is removed. It is a form of “breast-preservation” and technically is a partial mastectomy. Jo Spence had a mastectomy later on in her life when her breast cancer returned.” ~ Tracey Derrick
TAKEWAYS RE: SCARS & SCAR MANAGEMENT
TITLE: “Hang on? – come unstuck, detach, unfasten, free. Why reconstruct, whose ideals?” 2009
This particular photography by Tracey Derrick simply refused to fit into our graphic designer’s template – so it was decided the photograph would be most powerfully appreciated shown – purely – on its own.
How do you feel looking at this image?
How does it resonate with your own experience of mastectomy and the decision to opt for either reconstruction, prostheses or go completely breast-free?
Within the South African public health space, the bare minimum of breast cancer treatment options are very often not even managed – so how do our public health survivors navigate their post-mastectomy recovery where even one breast prosthesis costs R700?
Reach For Recovery is “a breast cancer support organisation with a unique focus on breast cancer support and one of the only organisations that provide a patient support service on a national basis. It is built on a simple yet universal principle: that of one woman who has experienced breast cancer herself giving freely of her time and experience to assist and support another woman with breast cancer.
Well-selected and trained volunteers, who each have experienced the breast cancer journey, render an emotional care and practical support programme to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and their families.”
The Ditto Project aims “to help these women who come from very low income groups to feel confident again after the traumatic diagnoses and surgery through our Ditto Project… and aim to assist them with a silicone breast prosthesis.”
For SUPPORT: get in touch with Reach For Recovery by clicking here!
To VOLUNTEER, click here!
To help support The Ditto Project, click here!
“My treatment on chemotherapy drugs was called CAF, a common cocktail for breast cancer. The regime combines cyclosphosphamide, doxorubican (andriamycin) and fluorouracil. Adriamycin is one of the most toxic chemotherapy agents available, notorious for its drastic side effects. It is a fluorescent red and when one sees the fluid flowing into one’s veins, nausea begins and a feeling of helplessness takes over – the body produces a violent reaction and fights it.
Nausea becomes a way of life, also vomiting and extreme fatigue.” ~ Tracey Derrick
READ MORE ABOUT THE WHAT, WHY & SIDE-EFFECTS OF CAF HERE
TAKEAWAY: Listen in to ABC’s Project Manager, Salome Meyer, chat with Kfm about why she’s determined to make her fight against breast cancer count!!
Click here to tune in!