#cancer85years – CANSA research

ABC - Advocates for Breast Cancer - CANSAThrough its Type A programme, offering funding to established researchers at South African universities and research institutions, CANSA is currently funding a number of projects addressing breast cancer.

These projects span a wide range in terms of types of research and focus areas. Several projects are looking at breast cancer prevention in basic science studies. Dr Donita Africander of University of Stellenbosch is examining the chemo-preventative properties of bio-identical hormones; Prof Anna-Mart Engelbrecht of University of Stellenbosch is examining whether melatonin can prevent the onset of breast cancer in a mouse model; Prof Ann Louw of University of Stellenbosch is looking at the chemopreventive action of a Cyclopia extract in rat models of breast cancer; while Dr Annadie Krygsman of University of Stellenbosch is examining whether simple dietary modification by restriction of carbohydrate and/or omega-6 fatty acids can prevent breast cancer development in the urban South African context.

A number of other projects are looking at genetic aspects of breast cancer which could impact early diagnosis. Dr Adrienne Edkins of Rhodes University is conducting an analysis of stem-cell associated genes in breast cancer as biomarkers and predictors of cancer malignancy. Prof Lizette Jansen van Rensburg of University of Pretoria is looking at the role of DNA homologous recombination genes in breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility; Dr Ans Baeyens of WITS is examining genetic screening of triple negative and young breast cancer patients in South Africa; while Prof Fourie Joubertof University of Pretoria is conducting an investigation into genetic variation in South African breast cancer patients using genome sequencing.

We are also funding projects in the areas of clinical and public health research. Dr  Herbert Cubasch of WITS and Prof Jennifer Moodley of UCT are both conducting projects that will contribute to our understanding of delays in seeking care and accessing treatment in women with breast cancer in South Africa, and may have significant outcomes for healthcare delivery.

Compiled by
Dr Melissa Wallace, Head of Research
Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co – ordinator

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#cancer85years – celebrating CANSA

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R12 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to address reduction of cancer, 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 whereby we inform and educate our public regarding how to reduce their risk for cancer, CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those patients and family affected by cancer, offer among other things 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 11 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas to accommodate out-of-town cancer patients when they receive their cancer treatment plus one hospitium based in Polokwane, as well as CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

ABC - Advocates for Breast Cancer - CANSAAs mentioned, CANSA provides home-from-home accommodation to patients undergoing cancer treatment at oncology clinics far from their homes.

Patients at our CANSA Care Homes stay for an average of six weeks and receive meals and transport to and from treatment centres.

We are there to help and support not only the person who has been diagnosed with cancer but also the friends, loved ones and care givers of those affected by cancer.

To arrange to stay at a Care Home please contact the CANSA Care Home nearest to you and book your stay. For more info, visit www.cansa.org.za or join on social media for more information. CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa on Facebook, @CANSA on Twitter and @CancerAssociationOfSouthAfrica on Instagram
Cancer survivor, Magda stayed at Mkhuhla Care Home in Durban, Monday to Friday for the six weeks while she was undergoing radiotherapy. She had a room overlooking the garden and made friends with two other ladies who were also staying over and receiving treatment. Every day they were taken to the treatment centre in a minibus.

She shared, “It’s wonderful here….and the meals are just right when you’re not feeling so well. I don’t feel self-conscious. We’re all in the same boat.”

Henk Hills, a recent guest, shared his experience via Twitter, “As a cancer survivor, I would like to thank CANSA and especially the staff at the Tipuana Care Home (Pretoria) for all their support, I really owe you guys my deepest thanx”.

Offering a place to stay is just one of many ways CANSA helps cancer patients cope with this awful disease. In 2015, CANSA with the help of donors and volunteers, brought comfort and care, served meals and provided transport to almost 3 847 individual patients who came to them for help. Find out more on http://www.cansa.org.za/cansas-care-support/cansa-care-homes/

Online Support Groups & Programmes for Survivors

CANSA also has various online support platforms offering support, receiving and providing encouragement from fellow members and sharing stories:

 

Compiled by
Dr Melissa Wallace, Head of Research
Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co – ordinator

 

A voice for the voiceless

 

IMG-20150715-WA0000My name is Martie Westraad. I am 53 years old and live in Suiderberg, Pretoria. 

I was worried and concerned about my breast as I could see something terrible was wrong with my one breast. I first went to CANSA in Rietfontein. They referred me to Pink Drive, who immediately referred me to George Makhuri Hospital in Ga-rankuwa. 

I was diagnosed with stage 3 advanced breast cancer in March of 2016 after all the required test were done and started with chemotherapy in June 2016. My next appointment was scheduled for 12th July 2016, however on the 8th July I received a phone call from the breast clinic to inform me that my appointment had been postponed as there was no chemo stock available for my treatment.

They said I should phone again in August to determine whether they have received stock of the specific treatment.

This was very stressful for me as I realised that I cannot miss one chemo treatment and if I do I have to start all over again. My colleagues at work offered to help me financially to pay for the treatment if we could buy it  privately, and if it could still be administed. This was a dead end as well, and to crown it all the staff at the hospital were very rude to me.

I decided to phone the Pink Drive as I knew that this is not supposed to happen. I was asked to send an email with all the details, which I did and the next moment the emails started pouring into my inbox from ALL the various organisations that started fighting on my behalf.

I sat back and read …. I did not even know that they all exist. I did not even know that this is possible.  That was Friday 8 July. On Monday 11th July I received a personal phone call from the acting CEO of the George Makhuri Hospital, Dr Freddy Kgongwana, to inform me that I must come to the hospital for the scheduled chemo treatment on the 12th July as they have received their stock. I went – and yes I was able to get my treatment on time.

THANK YOU to The PINK DRIVE for initiating this CALL for HELP and to ALL the members of the Advocates for Breast Cancer who got on board and voiced their concern about this.

You really are the “Voice of the Voiceless”. Thank you to the Department of Health for dealing with this matter so speedily – is certainly good to know that we can depend on you in our time of need!

 

Introducing… The Breast Health Foundation

The Breast Health Foundation was launched in 2002 to raise awareness of breast health among women through a series of community based education projects and creating awareness via community health facilities.

The projects currently employ six women, themselves breast cancer survivors, who give talks at churches, places of employment and public clinics about breast health, breast self-examination and the importance of early detection.  Fourteen years on and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of women being diagnosed early.

Over the years the organisation has, through expansion, based itself in the Vaal/Sedibeng area, Cape Town and Durban. The women based in those areas facilitate educational talks, counselling and patient navigation. These educators are also at the regional breast care centres to assist the patients that have been referred and provide counseling if diagnosed.

To date our community educators have directly impacted 72 811 women through community education projects and have made 291 clinic visits. In total, 2913 women have been navigated and 376 diagnosed with various stages of breast cancer throughout all our active areas.

Bosom Buddies (BB) was established as a project of the BHF, a support group for survivors and their family and friends. The group aims to provide emotional and informative support to all individuals diagnosed with breast cancer and is run by survivor volunteers. The ‘buddies’ provide support to people affected by breast cancer at point of diagnosis and during treatment. BB hosts public meetings in Johannesburg every seven (7) weeks and speakers are invited to share knowledge and experiences with the buddies.

Buddies for Life, a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine, is published by Word for Word Media on behalf of the Breast Health Foundation. In sustaining the aims of the Breast Health Foundation. All of the persons involved with Buddies for Life are either medical or healthcare professionals, and they have been affected by breast cancer themselves or have been inspired by a breast cancer survivor. Each issue of Buddies contains a section dedicated to the early detection of breast cancer.

The Breast Health Foundations purpose is to:

  • increase the awareness of breast health;
  • promote education and treatment and
  • provide support in respect of breast health.

Our mission is to

  • create breast health awareness in the community,
  • ensure individual access to information,
  • potentiate access to appropriate healthcare resources,
  • create an ongoing audit of operational effectiveness and
  • offer emotional and informative support.

 And through our projects, we have succesfully managed to realise great results.

You can connect with us on a daily through our social media pages:

:

BHF: https://www.facebook.com/BreastHealthFoundation/

BB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/31260668033/?ref=br_tf

Buddies For Life: https://www.facebook.com/BFLMagazine/?fref=ts

EBC:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/903665216386353/

BHF: @BreastBhf

Buddies For Life: @BFLmagazine

This post was written by R.Vanessa Mthombeni for The Breast Health Foundation

 

 

 

Creamed root gratin

Another recipe for the tough times. This is pure comfort food for when you feel like nothing else.

gratin

500g potatoes, peeled and chopped
a generous cup of celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 small parsnip, peeled and diced quite small
1 small chopped onion
1 clarge carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and the same of black pepper
1 teaspoon low salt stock powder
Soya milk to cover

Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are very soft. Drain and mash or blend to a smooth puree.

Pile into an oiled, overnproof dish, splash with a little olive oil and soy sauce and bake in a hot oven (200 deg C) until golden.

Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley or chives.

Yummy!

THANKS TO DR ROSY DANIEL, WHO HAS GENEROUSLY SHARED THE CANCER LIFELINE RECIPES WITH US. THIS RECIPE IS FOR THE TOUGH TIMES, FOR USE WHEN YOU ARE VERY ILL, DURING TREATMENT, WHILE THE APPETITE IS POOR AND THE WEIGHT LOW.

Targeted biological therapies

Approximately 20% of breast cancers are known as HER2 positive. This means that a gene mutation has caused the cells to have an over expression of HER2 receptors and this protein signals the cancer cells to grow and divide.

The HER2 receptor can be tested for by:

  1. Immunohistochemistry (IHC)- which shows how much of the protein is on the cell surface
  2. In-situ hybridisation (ISH)- which tests the number of copies of the gene inside the cell..

HER2 positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than HER2 negative cancers.

Trastuzamab (Herceptin) is a biological therapy that has been designed to specifically target the HER2 receptor in HER@ positive breast cancer. It reduces the risk of recurrence and death in women with HER2 positive breast cancer and prolongs survival in women with HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer.

Lapatinib (Tykerb) is another “HER receptor blocker” that is sometimes used in combination with Herceptin

med-her2-600px

Side effects:

Although Herceptin has been shown to have greatest benefit when used in combination with chemotherapy, it is not in itself a chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy treatments affect all rapidly dividing cells whether they are cancer cells or healthy cells.

Herceptin, however, targets only those abnormal cells with increased display of the HER2 receptor and it spares the healthy cells.

For this reason the side effect profile is substantially less.

Its main possible side effect is on the heart and the use of Herceptin in some patients may require baseline and periodic cardiac function tests. This side effect is usually reversible. In some cases hypersensitivity or allergic reactions can occur and for this reason it should be given in an appropriately equipped facility by staff who are trained to manage a possible reaction. Other less common and mild side effects may include fever, throat irritation and runny nose.

It is an intravenous therapy administered via a peripheral drip into a vein ideally every 3 weeks for one year.

However, it is unfortunately extremely expensive, not yet available in State hospitals and not covered by many Medical Aid schemes.

For those who can afford it, or those whose medical aids will cover it, Herceptin has significantly improved the prognosis and survival of patients with HER2 positive breast cancers to the extent that the outcomes are even better than some patients with HER2 negative breast cancers!

This blog was kindly supplied by Ronelle de Villiers at http://www.capebreastcare.org

 

Buddies for life!

bhf circleBuddies For Life is a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine, published by Word for Word Media in association with the Breast Health Foundation, for breast cancer patients, their families and friends. It was launched in June 2011, and 22 issues have been published to date with many more to come.

The glossy print and online magazine aims to educate, encourage and provide support. An array of medical professionals and experts write supportive and educational articles for the magazine on topics such as treatment, health and wellness, diet, fitness, sexuality, new advances and psychological advice that will assist those affected by cancer to understand the disease and treatment.

The content is essential reading written in a style that simplifies terminology. Super Survivor is featured on the cover of every issue and the breast cancer survivor’s story is told. On the Chemo Couch is another platform for survivors to share their unique story.

In keeping with the aims of the Breast Health Foundation, each issue contains a section dedicated to the early detection and awareness of breast cancer.

Oncology Buddies, supported by CANSA, is a new section within the magazine catering for other cancer awareness, early detection and various support groups.

Buddies For Life is available in print at hospitals, private clinics, oncology practises, Buddies for lifemammography units, radiology centres and support groups. Medipost courier the distribution of the print magazines to all the various distribution points.

A digital version is also available on www.buddiesforlife.co.za and yearly subscriptions are offered.

bu

 

The Breast Health Foundation is one of the partner organisations in the Advocates for Breast Cancer (ABC)