Spotlight on breast cancer

Lucien Ruiters was the programme director at the event.

A group of women felt more enlightened when they attended a breast cancer awareness programme hosted by the Manenberg library.

As part of its community outreach events, librarians there decided to focus on breast cancer awareness, as October is dedicated to this cause.

On Wednesday October 26, the hall at the library was filled with mostly senior women, who listened to inspiring stories of breast cancer survivors. They were also informed about what symptoms to look out for.

Soraya Hendricks, who was among the guests at the event, said although she has been educated about breast cancer before, “the information never gets old”.

“I used to care for a 96-year-old woman who lost her breast to cancer when she was 56 years old. I really value programmes like this. I would like to encourage people who are battling cancer – it is not a sentence, it is just a word, and you can overcome it,” Ms Hendricks said.

Elizabeth Cupido, 84, from Manenberg, did a fun ice-breaker with the women. She had been a breast cancer survivor for 23 years, and is a volunteer for Reach for Recovery. Ms Cupido said she brought some fun onto the programme, because cancer has a way of making people feel gloomy.

“I do counselling at day hospitals, churches or wherever I am needed. I like to do an ice-breaker, because some breast cancer patients don’t want to go out or interact with other people. Some don’t want to do anything. However, life goes on. The fight against cancer is all about a positive mindset and acceptance. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, you can never say you are finished with it – even if you have fully recovered from it,” Ms Cupido said.

Librarian Primrose Mki said when she was doing research, she found that there is big need for programmes around breast cancer, as there are still too many women dying of this disease.

“I invited Sister Mary-Ann Cox from Manenberg clinic, and Ms Cupido, as well as Myra America, who is also a breast cancer survivor. I read about Ms America’s story in the Athlone News, and had to invite her. This just shows once again how important the Athlone News is to us. As the staff, we are proud that we could successfully host this programme and we worked very well as a team,” Ms Mki said.

Ms Cox explained to the women what to look out for, and the correct way of doing breast self-examinations.

“Look at the size of your breasts, check if the one is abnormally bigger than the other. Also look at the colour of your breasts, and whether your nipples are inverted, if it has a discharge and sometimes there’s a rash around the nipple. Also check for lumps. The symptoms of breast cancer are not always the same. It is important that women do a breast self-examination once a month. A mammogram and ultrasound can help to diagnose breast cancer,” Ms Cox said.

Sylvia Jonkers said she found the information invaluable.

“This is good. They must have more programmes like this. I’m glad to learn more.”

Zaytune Losper, and Farida Majiet are both facing their own battle with cancer, and they were happy to be among other women they can share with.

“I’ve learnt that I must listen to my body. By the grace of God, I’m still going strong,” Ms Majiet said.