Cancer is a scourge that appears to be on the rise. The most common form among women is breast cancer, with about one in nine South African women likely to suffer the disease, which is no respecter of boundaries. Women of all races and all classes are susceptible.
The good news is that, if caught early, breast cancer is one of the most treatable forms of the disease, and is far from a death sentence. This is where the support group Reach for Recovery comes in. An international organisation, Reach for Recovery was started in South Africa in 1967, and there are 20 branches in South Africa.
Reach for Recovery provides emotional and physical support to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. All the counsellors are trained breast cancer survivors, who are able to understand the feelings of the newly-diagnosed patient.
The counsellors provide the patient with pamphlets with information about breast cancer and its treatment, a pretty floral bag to carry their drain, as well as a soft cushion to put under their arm so they can be more comfortable. They also supply prostheses to indigent women, or women who have no medical aid. But the most important aspect is the support and encouragement for the patient provided by the counsellor. Because they have been through it, they are able to empathise with the patient and give her hope and encouragement.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for some years, Reach for Recovery has been the designated charity of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge, which will be run at Marks Park on Sunday October 8. A portion of the entry fees is presented to Reach for Recovery and does much to keep the NGO afloat.
Many of the Reach for Recovery counsellors will be taking part in either the 10km Challenge or the 5km Fun Run. They are easily recognised by their pink t-shirts and from the sound of laughter that follows them wherever they go.
Entry forms for the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge are available at all SPAR stores or online at spar.co.za.