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Jul 24, 2018

Hlokomela Women's Clinic celebrates Mandela Day

Sonja teaching breast self examination
Sonja teaching breast self examination

Thanks to your support, our GlobalGiving friends, the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic is reaching and teaching more women by the day about women’s health issues.

Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, in conjunction with Rotary Club Hoedspruit, hosted an outreach on 18 July 2018 in celebration of Mandela Day. This event took place at Kgwana High School in Sekororo, Limpopo South Africa.

At this outreach we reached 400 high school girls. The theme of the day was “My body, my rights”. We spoke about breast and cervical cancer and demonstrated how to perform a self-breast examination. Each girl received a goody bag with sanitary products and treats. The day was a great success.

You may recall a patient by the name of Anna* from my previous reports. Anna (55), was scanned early this year and ultrasound examination found her to have a highly suspicious BIRADS 5 mass. After our friends at the Helen Joseph Hospital assisted in getting Anna in for a biopsy, her results came back positive for Breast CA clinical stage T3.  Anna underwent a unilateral mastectomy and is now recovering well. Anna would most likely never have had the opportunity to fight breast cancer, had she not been able to access ultrasound screening. Anna is now anxious to get back to work and continue with her life.

Lerato* (39) who was also scanned in the same week as Anna* was also diagnosed with Breast CA after a biopsy was done. Lerato has small children and is currently unemployed. At this point her treatment plan does not include surgery, however she has started with chemotherapy.  She is being assisted through the kindness of people, who believe in this programme, with transport costs to and from the hospital in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province where she will be receiving treatment. Just to put into perspective, Lerato is a Hlokomela patient. She knew about breast self-examination as she was taught by our staff. She knew to report to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic if she ever felt a lump.  Lerato’s cancer was detected early because she was taught about Breast Cancer. Education. Awareness. Accessibility. This is what we are trying to achieve and Lerato is proof that we are indeed, one person at a time, reaching our goals.

Our third patient is Sally*. She was 12 weeks pregnant at the time of her visit to Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. Sally’s pregnancy came as a shock for her and she decided to get an abortion. Her local doctor gave her oral medication to abort the unborn foetus. Sally took the medication and thought that she had aborted. After about a week of not noticing any bleeding, she decided to come to Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. After obtaining her history and explaining the Ultrasound procedure to her, we commenced with a scan. Upon touching her stomach with the probe, an image of a foetus appeared on the screen. The movement of the foetus surprised her and she gave a sigh of relief. I asked her if she wanted to hear the foetus’s heartbeat and without hesitation she said “yes please mam” The following few minutes were emotional to say the least. Sally commented by saying “I think this baby should be alive”. Sally was referred to one of the Professional Nurses at the Hlokomela Main Clinic for a consultation and referred to an ante-natal facility. This baby boy indeed has a strong will to be born and to live!

*Pseudonyms were used to protect our patients’ identity.

School girls at the Women
School girls at the Women's Clinic outreach
Handing out goody bags at Women
Handing out goody bags at Women's Clinic outreach


Apr 30, 2018

Health Workers receive training in trauma relief

Health workers learning Trauma Relief Excercises
Health workers learning Trauma Relief Excercises

The Trauma Relief Exercises (TRE) training at Hlokomela is in full swing! Seventeen (17) rural health workers from Hoedspruit, Tzaneen and Phalaborwa areas are already feeling the effects of the training on their own bodies.

Under the expert guidance of Dr. Erika Coertzen, they are beginning to experience the effects of TRE as they enter into the process of chronic stress relief. ‘ I feel different in my body’, ‘the stiffness and tiredness is reducing’, ‘emotions like sadness are coming up’ and ‘the pain in my ankles is better’ are some of the effects Hlokomela’s rural health workers are experiencing as their bodies begin to release trauma, tension and stress.

After 3 of the 9 course days, participants are motivated and excited to see the first results on themselves. They are learning how trauma and chronic stress affect the body and nervous system, how to recognize when someone is experiencing extreme reaction during TRE and are practicing on each other how to deal with this. They practice TRE at home on their own and soon they will be encouraged to start facilitating other people in one-on-one situations, taking notes and reporting back during the course.

With the continued support of our GlobalGiving family, Hlokomela will be able to tackle trauma debriefing in rural communities as our 17 rural health workers in training are eager to take on the task. Thank you GlobalGiving for making this project possible!

Dr Erika Coertzen teaching TRE at Hlokomela
Dr Erika Coertzen teaching TRE at Hlokomela


Apr 25, 2018

Early interventions saving lives

Dr Sarah Zeb (middle) with Hlokomela staff.
Dr Sarah Zeb (middle) with Hlokomela staff.

It’s time for an update again, oh how time flies! A lot has happened during the past three months here at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

Our Ultrasound Nurse, Sonja Botha, attended two Ultrasound training courses in Johannesburg, Gauteng. She was trained in basic obstetric scanning as well as abdominal and pelvic scanning. A need for these kinds of examinations had been identified and we are proud to now offer this service also.  

She is using her training daily and in this way improving on her skills and on the quality and spectrum of services we can provide to our patients.  In May 2018 she will be attending a 4D training workshop. This will enable us to provide expectant mommies with beautiful images of their unborn babies. This will be a first for many patients!

Sadly, two patients were diagnosed with BIRADS 5* findings in their breasts! Both ladies in one week! They were sent to a referral hospital for biopsies. Results are currently pending. If it was not for the ultrasound services we provide, these pathologies would probably never have been detected, or probably only when it was much too late.

Dr Sarah Zeb, from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore USA, volunteered at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic during the month of April. She is a specialist in the field of breast imaging and ultrasound. Dr Zeb worked with Sonja and shared some of her knowledge and skills. This was a wonderful opportunity for our staff and a great experience to have Dr Zeb visit us. She also sponsored much needed teaching material which we are grateful for.

Thank you to you, our GlobalGiving family, for continuously making it possible for us to do what we do and save lives!

*When a radiologist interprets an ultrasound image, he or she assigns a score to it used to communicate with doctors about how concerned he or she is about the findings. Did anything look abnormal? How serious is the abnormality that was found? This and other information is efficiently summed up in one number, called the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) score.


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