Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media
Andrew Hunter tells us about life after a laryngectomy: how he learnt to communicate with a tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis and recently via oesophageal speech. Andrew Hunter (59) lives in Soweto, Gauteng. He is divorced and has two adult children. Diagnosis In 2012, Andrew who had been smoking for over 20 years and drank occasionally on weekends, started to develop flu-like symptoms. His voice became croaky and deterioratedand his throat was dry and painful. He went to see a doctor who referred him to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. After numerous tests, including a biopsy, Andrew was diagnosed with cancer of the…

Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media

Elsabé Klinck educates us on the basics of medical schemes when affected by cancer. Medical scheme cover The jargon of medical schemes can easily confuse patients, or the loved ones of cancer patients. Apart from choosing between various plans, there is a bewildering array of types of benefits (e.g. oncology benefits with or without co-payments); divisions into chronic, savings and/or risk pools; thresholds; payment gaps; co-payments and the likes. The law, however, creates a ‘fairly’ straight-forward system, where schemes:  must offer so-called Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs) which must always be funded. may offer other healthcare cover for other conditions, not included in the PMBs. There is, in law, no such…

Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media
Kristin Smith, a patient navigator in oncofertility care, enlightens us on how she assists newly diagnosed cancer patients with their fertility preservation journey, at Northwestern University’s Lurie Cancer Center, in the USA. Note, this article pertains to practices in America. As a patient navigator, I work with adolescents and young adults whose lives are upended by a major diagnosis like cancer.  Fortunately, modern advancements in cancer treatment protocols, coupled with widespread early detection programmes have led to extended life expectancy and improved survival rates. However, radical surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation can leave patients infertile or unable to have biological…

Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media
The landscape of radiotherapy is changing rapidly and the many innovative developments are making this an exciting field of medicine. Dr Mariza Tunmer, a specialist radiation oncologist, tells us more. As technology is improving across all aspects of medicine, radiotherapy (RT) too is advancing in numerous ways. Wilhelm Röntgen was the first to discover electromagnetic radiation in 1895.   Around the same time, Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre, discovered the radioactive decay of certain elements. Over the next decades, the cancer-treating properties of irradiation were discovered and described, and the scientific discipline of radiotherapy was born. In more recent times, innovative technologies have been revolutionising radiotherapy…

Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media
Azra Hoosen educates us on how a speech therapist supports and empowers head and neck cancer patients with speech, voice, communication and swallowing difficulties. Many patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer may present with speech, communication, voice or swallowing difficulties which hugely impact activities of daily living and quality of life.  A speech therapist is a health professional that is involved in the screening, assessment and ongoing management of individuals with the abovementioned difficulties. Assessment, treatment and beyond The speech therapist will assist with the following areas of assessment: Providing education and counselling regarding anticipated changes in communication and swallowing. Providing counselling prior to surgical procedures….

Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media
Dr Chris Joseph, an ear, nose and throat surgeon, outlines what a laryngectomy surgical procedure entails, when it is needed and the effects of it. A total laryngectomy is the complete removal of the larynx. When a portion of the larynx is removed, it’s called a partial laryngectomy. The function of the larynx The larynx functions as a valve to prevent food and liquids from entering the trachea and lungs during swallowing. It’s also necessary for normal voice and speech as it houses the voice box.  Its cartilaginous framework or “Adams Apple” can be seen and felt in the neck. When and why…

Mar 20, 2020 Word for Word Media
Cardiologist, Dr YT Singh, explains what cardio-oncology is and why it forms an integral part of a cancer journey. What is cardio-oncology? Cardio-oncology is a field in which a cardio-oncologist (a cardiologist who is familiar with the cardiovascular complications of cancer drugs and radiotherapy) works closely with an oncologist, in detecting and treating cardiovascular complications due to cancer drugs and radiotherapy. The cardio-oncologist must be aware of the international guidelines and protocols pertaining to the follow-up and management of such patients. Cancer therapy Cancer therapy today has advanced greatly, resulting in cure of many cancers like breast-, prostate-, lung cancer, and…

Mar 19, 2020 Word for Word Media
Prostate and lung cancer survivor, Iain Johnston, talks about cancer treatment and running his fifth Hollard DareDevil Run with the aim of raising money for Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa. Iain Johnston (64) stays in Dainfern, Gauteng with his wife. They have two children and two grandchildren. Fluctuating PSA level Iain went for regular PSA screening tests every year. For a few years, he had a high PSA level. He explains, “Just because you have a high PSA, doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer, but it’s an indication and should be followed up with further observation or investigation….

Feb 3, 2020 Word for Word Media

Naniki Seboni tells us how she was teased at school for ‘wanting to be like a white girl’ because she used sunscreen and how at the age of 24, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 malignant melanoma. Naniki Seboni (29) lives in Soweto, Gauteng.  Ailments as a child Naniki sufferred severe nose bleeds as a child. “We never knew what that was all about. My parents just took it as my sinuses as normally it would happen just before I got flu. But then it happened more frequently and had nothing to do with the flu,” Naniki explains. Eventually, a doctor…

Feb 3, 2020 Word for Word Media

Dr Chris Venter updates us on the current standing of oncofertility care in South Africa. At the start of a new year, it seems reasonable to take a “surgical pause” and reflect on the past year. What challenges were achieved and what challenges still lie ahead? Eighteen months back when I was tasked to co-ordinate a national collaborate attempt between fertility clinics unified under the South African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG), I was made aware by my overseas mentor, Teresa Woodruff, that this would be a long-term mission, and that the challenges we’re facing in oncofertility care are universal in…

Feb 3, 2020 Word for Word Media
Dr Carrie Minnaar informs us about hyperthermia, a new treatment in South Africa, and its benefits when used alongside chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperthermia explained Hyperthermia describes an increase in the tumour temperature above the normal physiological temperature range. A complex set of reactions of the tumour cells and environment in response to the heat results in improved tumour destruction.  How does it help? Possibly the most important response is the change in blood flow to the tumour. In an attempt to lower the temperature at the tumour site, the body responds by increasing the blood flow and oxygen to the heated area. While this may…

Feb 3, 2020 Word for Word Media
John McPetrie shares his humorous views of the side effects of prostate cancer treatment. John (66) lives in Constantia, Cape Town, with his wife, Sue. They have two adult sons, having lost their eldest four years ago.  REGULAR PSA SCREENINGS  John was diagnosed with Stage 3b prostate cancer in late 2018 despite regular PSA testing for 22 years. “After many years of a relatively high PSA (it went up to almost 11), it began to drop; fairly unexpectedly and quite rapidly.  It fell to 4,02 in mid-2017. My then urologist thought that whatever had caused the high reading had disappeared. But evidently not,…