An organisation called People Living with Cancer hosts an effective Cancer Buddy system throughout South Africa. Support in the form of a friend who survived cancer may be closer than you think.
Two cancer survivors, Carl Liebenberg, a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, and Linda Greeff, an ovarian cancer survivor, initiated this organisation almost seven years ago, after the first Cancer Survivors Day held in Cape Town in 2000.
Liebenberg and Greeff voiced the need of newly diagnosed cancer patients to be able to chat to others – other cancer survivors who have gone through a similar experience and who survived to tell the story. They knew that this would inspire newly diagnosed patients and that it would give hope at the start of treatment.
The idea was to use the knowledge and skills gathered by Reach for Recovery to start a similar service for other cancer patients, living with different types of cancer.
From strength to strength
As a result, the first training programme for the Cancer Buddy system was launched on 16 October 2004 under the auspices of People Living with Cancer.
From here, the organisation, and the buddy system, went from strength to strength. In addition to the Western Cape pilot group of 20 cancer buddies, the organisation branched out to Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit and Pretoria, and will soon be in Johannesburg.
The participating buddies all survived cancer: from lymphoma, melanoma, lung, prostate, bladder, oesophagus and brain cancer to leukaemia, lymphoblastic leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and more.
More buddies needed
The organisation is hoping to recruit more buddies with colorectal, gynaecological, as well as head and neck cancers, as these cancers are particularly prevalent in South Africa.
People Living with Cancer aims to assist clients and families in dealing with the diagnosis, treatment, emotional issues, as well as living with, and beyond the treatment, of cancer.
For more information, call 076 775 6099 or visit www.plwc.org.za.