CANSA Relay For Life

Fight Back

The responsibility rests with patients to contact CANSA for assistance. Read more...

Cancer in the workplace: promoting a culture of acceptance

“It’s critical for companies to sensitise their management and employees to dreaded diseases, including cancer,” says the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)’s CEO, Sue Janse van Rensburg.

CANSA places the spotlight on managing cancer in the workplace with its Relay For Life Corporate event on 5 & 6 October 2013. The 3rd annual corporate event, again taking place at Denel’s Irene Campus this year, not only honours cancer survivors and caregivers, it’s also a great opportunity for companies to introduce their employees to how to appropriately deal with a colleague who is a cancer survivor.

Cancer is a disease that many people are afraid of. So much so that most would rather avoid the topic completely and believe that they will never have to cope with it themselves. They especially don’t want to have to face it in the workplace, where it is relatively easy to distance themselves from its effects.

The reality is that cancer doesn’t observe boundaries and it affects all – you or one of your colleagues may well have to deal with the words: ‘You have cancer’.

Sensitise employees to cancer

Janse van Rensburg (herself a cancer survivor of nearly 30 years) adds, “A cancer diagnosis does not mean that the person affected no longer wants or needs to earn a living, or that they have become invisible. We know that work actually forms a valuable part of most cancer survivors’ recovery. It provides them with a sense of purpose and normality when, often, their lives have been turned drastically off course.”

Cancer survivors not only have a right to continue being gainfully employed in jobs where they are able to make a meaningful contribution, they also need to feel secure and comfortable in their working environment.

Promoting a culture of acceptance

“It’s about educating employees, providing them with information that enables them to deal with their colleagues who are living with a dreaded disease such as cancer. Cancer survivors benefit greatly from support and acceptance by their colleagues,” says Janse van Rensburg.

“This ranges from small gestures, such as a greeting and acknowledgement of the person to providing comfort to the person when he or she is feeling particularly weak as a result of the disease and treatment. Survivors often simply need to know that they are still making a difference in the workplace and that they are still valued,” she adds.

Where to start?

CANSA assists companies in building supportive environments by partnering with them at wellness days where they deliver presentations and hold workshops on cancer-related topics, as well as conduct screenings and tests.

“In addition, we provide material such as pamphlets, posters and articles that may be incorporated in companies’ employee communication channels,” says Janse van Rensburg.

For information, care and support, both cancer survivors and companies can contact their closest CANSA Care Centre  or call the toll-free line on 0800 22 66 22 or email

Companies are encouraged to enter teams to participate. Early bird registrations before 31 August will cost only R2 000 a team, which can comprise 10 to 15 members, with proceeds going to CANSA. To register, go to or email


All funds raised at the CANSA Relay For Life is allocated to the unique integrated service provided to the public and all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R6 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our wide-reaching health programme comprises prevention and education campaigns; over 30 CANSA Care Centres that offer stoma support and lymphoedema management; medical equipment hire; a toll-free line and support to those affected by cancer; patient care and support in the form of 12 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients plus one hospitium based in Polokwane, as well as CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA and join CANSA on Facebook.  For information, care and support, contact your closest CANSA Care Centre, or call the toll-free line on 0800 22 66 22 or email

(For more information, please contact Munnik Marais, CANSA’s Head: Business Development or email:, call 012 329 3036 or cell: 083 268 8701. Or visit or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22, or email:

Do you have a question?


Book a counselling session

CANSA Tele Counselling