2012 has been a year of opportunities and true to its name, Women in Action (Wia) has taken up every opportunity not only to spread awareness but also to make a difference in the lives of those it reaches.
Since its inception in 2009, Wia has undertaken various projects to educate women on significant issues. The group consists of pastors' wives, each devoting time and making it a priority to improve their skills.
Several days a week the "pink ladies" will be seen volunteering their time to counsel patients and family members in the oncology wards of the Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani Baragwanath hospitals in Johannesburg and Soweto.
WiA launched its second support group called "it's all about you" in Soweto on 9 October 2012. Special guest speaker was Rebecca Musi, a breast cancer survivor from the Best Health Foundation which was established in April 2002 to empower women by increasing awareness of breast cancer and breast health. Another guest was Maragaret Makapan, a social worker, who will conduct one of the future sessions.
Support group meetings will take place on alternate Fridays for five weeks. Speakers, who will address different issues of importance to patients and family members, include an oncologist, a social worker, a dietician and a cancer survivor.
Rebecca emphasises the importance of finding out about and understanding the type of cancer you are diagnosed with. Unless you know your "enemy" and how to fight it, it could end up killing you. She also stressed the importance of women examining their breasts themselves, getting to know what they were like and noticing anything out of the ordinary to have an immediate check-up.
Men should not ignore information on breast cancer since they too could get it. Better informed men would know how to assist women close to them.
When asked why few men attended such meetings, Rebecca said many men felt it was a woman's issue.
She urged women not to wait until the pain became unbearable before going to a doctor since this could be too late. Early detection saved lives. Medicine was so advanced that if woman's breast was removed, reconstruction could be done.
As 2012 draws to a close WiA can consider its many achievements, the most notable being its memberships of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC).
by Donna Onwubiko
Cancer Support Team Coordinator