South African Alumni Global Heroes of Hope 2020
Alna Kraak (Western Cape)
My caregiver journey started in 1987 as a registered nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital’s Oncology Department. I was also affected as I lost my father-in-law and two uncles to cancer.
I started as a CANSA volunteer in March 2009, receiving patient care and Phakamisa volunteer training. I am actively involved and have a ‘hands on’ approach with patients in my community. I have built good relationships with all my patients, clinics in the area, as well as the local hospital. Patient care is my main priority, but my love for people goes beyond patient services. I know all my patients by name and am available for them day or night. I always aim to make them feel special and loved. Read more..
Claudine Venter (Gauteng)
One is choked at the mere thought of cancer, especially if it is yourself or a loved one that has been diagnosed.
After I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011 and again in 2012, I learned that every breath and new day is nothing but grace. With a one-year-old son, cancer made me appreciate the little things in life again.
You might have cancer yourself or you may be the person who is walking beside somebody fighting cancer, either as a family member, friend, or caregiver. It is a very emotional and spiritual journey.
From diagnosis to losing our unborn baby, death of my grandmother, dark depression to remission. I hope my story brings you renewed hope. Read more..
Daphne James (Eastern Cape)
I am a 74-year-old dedicated CANSA Caregiver from Mossel Bay. My journey with CANSA started in 1995 in the Mossel Bay – George area. 25 Years later, I wouldn’t exchange it for any high-paying job because my reward with my patients is so much greater.
Cancer touched my life personally in 2015, when my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was a dark time that tested my faith, but I remained hopeful and I quickly became his strength.
God prepared me for 25 years for this moment, to not only be a wife and mother but to be a caregiver as well. My amazing husband unfortunately passed away in March 2019. Read more..
My meeting with thyroid cancer started in a strange, but oddly heart-warming, manner. The surgeon informed me, “if you are told you must have cancer, you have no choice, but you can choose…you choose this one.”
Prior to this, small nodules were discovered on my thyroid, when I consulted a general practitioner due to severe mouth ulcers. If he had not performed an examination of my thyroid, I may not have been so lucky.
I was very resistant to losing my thyroid, as a psychologist ai fait with the important role of one’s thyroid, I wanted to avoid the physical, emotional, and cognitive impact of living without a thyroid. Read more..
Elizabeth Bezuidenhout (Western Cape)
Many of my family members had cancer and at CANSA Relay For Life we had the opportunity to honour and remember them. As a caregiver for many of them, I always wanted to make them feel that they are not alone and Relay For Life offered them that. It also creates the opportunity to raise funds for cancer awareness and education.
In 2008 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and this motivated me to become part of CANSA Relay For Life Springbok where I became the Survivorship Chair and for the last seven years have been involved in various sub-committees including team recruitment, luminaria, and mission delivery. Read more..
Freda Botha (Eastern Cape)
In November 2008 just after my 34th birthday I began to feel sick. I was battling with my stomach and felt nauseated all the time. On 22 November 2008 it was so bad that I decided to go to my Doctor. He referred me to Provincial Hospital for x-rays and they immediately referred me to Livingstone’s Casualty division. They saw a blockage in my bowel and a bunch of air bubbles.
I was admitted to Livingstone Hospital. After still more x-rays, scans, and blood tests, they decided to operate on 26 November to remove the air bubbles from the bowel. Little did I know how my life would change that day. With the surgery they found a growth and decide it should be removed immediately. I was shocked when I woke up after surgery and I had a stoma bag and I had to hear how it had changed into a large operation. I don’t remember much about the month I had spent in hospital. I just know that if it wasn’t for me becoming ill, they probably wouldn’t have found the growth and things could have turned out very differently for me. Read more..
Gerrit Kortje (Western Cape)
My wife Anthea was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and underwent a left breast mastectomy.
She received treatment in Cape Town, approximately 150km from our home in Ceres. At the time we had two children at university and two more at school.
Although, we were very fortunate to have a medical aid, we still had financial constraints with all the travelling costs and so forth.
Cancer affected me in more ways, and I was emotionally drained because my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer as well in 2014 and later passed away, and one of my colleagues was also diagnosed with cervical cancer and passed away in 2015.
My wife’s cancer diagnosis affected our household but by the power of prayer we got through this difficult time. My blessing was that I was part of the CANSA Relay For Life committee and we were able to help less fortunate people in our poor, rural community through cancer education and awareness campaigns. Read more..
Lettie Korb (Free State)
In May 2015 I felt a lump in my left breast. After contacting my doctor, I went for a mammogram and the lump was removed on the same day, and later that month I was told that I have cancer.
This diagnosis really made me think that I was going to die, but once I met my oncologist and his staff, I realized that this is the beginning of the rest of my life – and what an amazing story it turned out to be.
In the chemo room I met the true angels of the oncology centre – myself and the other cancer survivors were all in the same boat – and we became family during our individual journeys.
Once you have walked the cancer journey your attitude towards life changes completely – you have more empathy, it strengthens your religion, and makes you thankful for every new morning. Read more..
Lyn England (Eastern Cape)
As a professional nurse, I have been involved in the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) for 29 years. I was permanently employed for 19 years, and since then I have been employed on a part-time basis. At the moment, I am a sessional nurse and am a trained lymphoedema therapist and geriatric nurse.
I have also been a primary caregiver to my husband and my father, who both lost their battles with cancer.
I had to get used to not making decisions for people, but rather listen, support, and then advise. I enjoy looking after the amazing cancer patients with all their trials and being able to give advice in different situations, be it family dynamics or emotional support.
I have also enjoyed going into the different communities, the rural areas, informal settlements, townships and learning the different cultures. It is not only the patient that we get involved with, but the whole family and sometimes the entire community as well. Read more..
We are very saddened to inform you of the passing of Mona. We would like to extend our condolences to Mona’s family and friends. May her soul rest in peace.
My name is Malikadevi Maharaj, better known to my community as Mona. I am a caregiver to my husband who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2018. I am also a caregiver to my community offering support to cancer patients and their families.
I have been involved with community work in Newcastle since 2002 when I was involved the SANBS and learned how much blood is given to cancer patients and I decided to become a volunteer with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and provide much needed support to the community in Newcastle.
I have been actively in involved in CANSA Relay For Life for ten years now as the Event Chair. CANSA Relay For Life creates awareness of cancer in the community and through Relay, I can offer hope and motivation to cancer survivors and their caregivers. Relay For Life symbolises hope. Read more..
Nadine Liebenberg (Northern Cape)
I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer in January 2007. The staff from CANSA Kimberley Care Centre were positive, caring and well informed on my cancer. We became a “family”.
They educated me on cancer and to assist other cancer patients in various ways according to their type of cancer. The Care Centre was well equipped with wigs and prosthesis and they were very professional in the way they fitted the wigs and prosthesis. I also often received phone calls from them during my journey, and that meant a lot to me.
I have been involved with CANSA Relay For Life for seven years and I serve on the sub-committee of Survivorship Portfolio. I also support the survivors during the Survivors Lap at the event. Too many survivors do not want to make their illness known for their fear of rejection, but through CANSA Relay For Life we show that cancer can be beaten and there needn’t be a stigma to the disease. At the event we promote cancer awareness and support. Read more..