Sep 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
We hear how Pitso Majoro found out he had prostate cancer and how his wife, Marupine, dedicates her life to care for him. Pitso Majoro (81) lives in Soweto, Gauteng with his wife, Marupine. They have three adult children, two sons and a daughter, and one grandchild.  Diagnosed in 2016 In late December 2015, Pitso, then 77-years-old, complained about body pain, stiff muscles and insomnia. He also suffered urinary retention and constipation. Marupine rushed him to the emergency room. A urinary catheter was inserted and oral medication was prescribed. Five days later he was told to come in and get the catheter…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
Pragashnee Pillay shares how getting a dog for her daughter, Diya, helped both her and her daughter cope with her cancer diagnoses and treatments. Pragashnee Pillay (35) lives in Tongaat, Kwa-Zulu Natal with her husband, Terence, and their five-year-old daughter, Diya, and their pet Jack Russell, Stitch. Thyroid cancer A month before Pragashnee was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, in April 2017, her daughter, Diya, asked for a baby brother. Unfortunately, that was not on the cards as Pragashnee hadn’t been feeling well for some time.  “I told her that I am currently unwell and will not be able to…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
A surprisingly positive experience are not words that you would think would be associated with prostate cancer. Though, this is how Darren Robertson experienced his diagnosis. He tells us more. Darren Robertson (42) lives in Harfield Village, Cape Town with his wife, Loren and their daughter, Rebecca. Health check leads to diagnosis Darren never dreamt that he would be diagnosed with prostate cancer at the young age of 40, and never expected it to have been such a positive experience.  The financial planner decided to go for a full health check, in November 2018, because he was keen to boost his Discovery…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
Dr Sithembile Ngidi educates us on the risk stratifying system of prostate cancer. Once a patient has been diagnosed and the tumour biological behaviour (personality) has been identified, treatment modalities are chosen, based on what risk profile the cancer falls into.  Parameters, such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, Gleason score and T-staging, determine the risk profile. Other factors considered are patient choice, lifestyle, medical co-morbidities, risks and benefits, and life expectancy. I tell my patients to think of the risk profiles as dogs. Low-risk being your small friendly dogs, like a Chihuahua, which further divides into very low-risk and…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
Tanya Rubin explores the options of cancer survivors using a donor or surrogate to start or add to their family. Most people grow up believing that having children is a simple, easy part of life. But then enters a cancer diagnosis and infertility. Both are traumas and both raise questions that go to the very core of who we are: identity, roles, choices and life.  Sadness, loss, anger, regret, fear, guilt, anxiety and uncertainty are just some of the feelings you will face when dealing with cancer and infertility simultaneously.  Not all infertility journeys are the same. Each journey is a unique personal story,…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
Cancer is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. This includes the funding of cancer treatment. Dr Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health, expands on this. The incidence of cancer is increasing rapidly, for reasons that are not fully understood but which appear to be linked to lifestyle.  Discovery Health’s data shows that cancer cases increased by over 45% between 2011 and 2018, with almost 8 500 new cases in 2018 alone. As a result, the Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) has seen an increase of over 100% in the costs of cancer-related treatment, from R1,5bn in 2011 to over…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
Mother of twin boys, Anja Berkowitz, shares how her battle with cervical cancer while pregnant ultimately birthed her new business, Amara Grace. Anja Berkowitz (35) lives in Fourways, Gauteng with her husband, Jordan, and their twin sons, David and Noah (3). Cervical cancer and choices In September 2015, about a year and a half into fertility treatment, Anja fell pregnant. Jordan and Anja were thrilled to be expecting twin boys. Their life-long dream was becoming a reality. Three months into the pregnancy, Anja experienced complications, including bleeding. After changing doctors in January 2016, the expectant mother was told she had cervical…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media

In the previous article, we mentioned the importance of cancer advocacy to bring attention to areas of need in terms of cancer services in South Africa. Here are the eight challenges that were found in the research1. ONE: Emotional challenges  The total lack of psychosocial support services. The sparsity of psychosocial support services was reported in both the public and private oncology services in SA. Only a small number of patients could access support from a few cancer charities. The management of distress associated with cancer is a core part of the treatment protocol and is not sufficiently prioritised in SA oncology…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media
Dr Simon Naylar, a pathologist, helps us get a better understanding of biomarkers in relation to immunotherapy. Understanding the immune system The immune system is a finely-tuned balanced harmony of cells and molecules ready to react to the threat posed to the body by infections, foreign entities and tumours.  Once the immune system detects one of these potential threats (known as an antigen), the immune defences are activated and a complex set of reactions and responses begin the process of attacking this enemy.  Many tumour cells are destroyed by the immune cells and the action of antibodies (proteins which attack foreign cells or molecules). Immunotherapy explained…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
When faced with an ovarian cancer diagnosis three months before your wedding, at the age of 25, what do you do? Sarah Smit bravely chose to go ahead with the wedding plans. Sarah Smit (28) lives in Centurion, Gauteng with her husband, Pieter. Sarah and Pieter met on New Year’s Eve in 2008. They started dating and in July 2015, Pieter proposed. Sarah said yes and their wedding was set for 1st October 2016. Flu-like symptoms In May 2016, Sarah went to a doctor. “I had flu-like symptoms since the beginning of the year. I would get better, then a few…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Dr Jason Naicker tells us why the inactivated flu vaccine is best for most cancer patients. The flu vs. a common cold Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses. But they are caused by different viruses. Yet have similar symptoms.  In general, flu is worse and symptoms are more intense. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. And, colds generally don’t result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia or hospitalisations. Influenza According to the South African National Department of Health, influenza kills between 6 000 – 11 000 South Africans…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Dr Chris Venter educates us on the fertility preservation options for female cancer patients. When someone is confronted with the devastating diagnosis of cancer, the immediate goal is to survive the cancer. In the past decades, there has been a sharp increase of survivors of cancer. This is due to advancements in cancer therapy and earlier detection of cancer.  Many cancer survivors are in their reproductive years, and survivorship issues, such as family planning, become a real need. Evidence has shown that the desire to one day have a family is a strong motivational factor for patients fighting cancer. Unfortunately,…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
A dedicated oncofertility session was held at the SASREG – ISGE and ESGE Congress 2019. The International Society for Gynaecologic Endoscopy (ISGE) and the European Society of Gynaecological Endoscopists (ESGE) 2019 Congress was hosted by the South African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG) in Cape Town from 14 – 17 April. The theme was Endoscopy in Africa and Beyond and presented a great opportunity for African and international endoscopists to share ideas, teach skills and improve knowledge in this field.  One of the highlights of the congress was the oncofertility session. This is where the oncology and…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Dr Nirasha Chiranjan informs us about the new developments in radiotherapy in the treatment of brain tumours. Radiotherapy can prolong survival in most malignant brain tumours and may be curative in others. In the setting of benign and malignant brain tumours, radiotherapy may be used solely; may be used before or after surgery; and may be used concurrently with chemotherapy.  Radiation works at a cellular level to damage the DNA of cancer cells thereby preventing cell division and inducing death of these cells1. The duration may vary from a single treatment to daily treatment for six weeks. Radiotherapy has evolved…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Free oral, head and neck cancer screenings were offered on 10 April at Menlyn Maine Central Square, in Pretoria, by Oral Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW) South Africa. The US Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA), along with more than 400 national and international screening sites, offered individuals to get screened for oral, head and neck cancers during the 20th annual OHANCAW, which runs from 8 to 15 April.  The community was invited to participate in free head and neck screening. Individuals received a thorough exam and learned more about the symptoms of head and neck cancers, which include:…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Dr Sumayya Ebrahim addresses the important questions around breastfeeding and ovarian cancer. The benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby are widely proven and accepted. The anti-cancer benefits of breastfeeding, in relation to breast cancer, are also firmly established.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life for the health of both mother and child, and continuation of breastfeeding for two years and beyond, alongside other food and drinks. Ovarian cancer Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. It’s responsible for more deaths than any other cancer of the female…