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Save women from breast cancer in South Africa

by Hoedspruit Training Trust
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Outreach to teach breast self-examination
Outreach to teach breast self-examination

October is Breast Cancer awareness month

Every year the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic works on full steam during October to raise awareness about breast cancer and this year is no different!

On October 4th Hlokomela had their annual General Meeting and open day. During this meeting school groups and tour groups visited the clinic. Talks on breast cancer as well as demonstrating self-breast examination was given to our guests!

October 5th was the Hlokomela Migrant Recreation day! During this day, the female farmworkers were shown how to do a self-breast examination and taught the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Each lady received a bookmark with pictures illustrating Self Breast Examination. The main purpose of the day is to encourage good relationships between South Africans and migrants and to share health information with migrants and where they can access health services.

October 11th was Hlokomela and Rotary Hoedspruit’s annual wellness day. On this day we offered free blood pressure testing, glucose testing, HIV testing, and malaria testing. Health education is given and nursing staff is available to answer health-related questions.

The Hlokomela Women’s Clinic also has a stall at this event. Talks, training, and education was given to women on breast and cervical cancer. Free physical breast exams were conducted and educational material was handed out.

The month is not over yet and many more events are planned on which we will tell you all about in our next report!

Patient Feedback

During the month of August, a 57-year-old lady *Lebo, came into the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, complaining of large painful masses under her arms and upper chest. Some of the masses were also in her breast tissue. Thankfully at the time, the ladies from the “Pink Drive” were in Tzaneen, Limpopo Province. They contacted me and offered free mammograms to a max of 5 patients for that one day that they spent in Tzaneen. I was able to send Lebo to Tzaneen for a mammogram. I received the report last week. Lebo’s results came back as a BIRADS 5, highly suspicious for Lymphoma. Lebo will be travelling to Johannesburg on 11 September 2019 to visit the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province for a consultation at the Breast Clinic. We wish her all the best.

Outreaches

On 21 August 2019 Hlokomela staff, staff from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Rotary Club Hoedspruit set out to a high school in a local village. We visited a group of Grade 12 female students. The girls learned about breast cancer, cervical cancer, self-breast examination, and safe sex. Topics like transactional sex were discussed in-depth and were followed by a fruitful Q&A session. Members from SAPS also gave a talk about women’s rights. Each girl received a goodie bag of body soap and sanitary products donated by SAPS and Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. We enjoyed this combined effort with Rotary and SAPS in reaching out during Women’s Month.

During the month of August and September, Hlokomela Tours ran an initiative to allow high school learners from another local high school to participate in tours of Hlokomela’s various projects and facilities.

During their stop at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, I did talks on breast -, cervical - and menstrual health. I also spoke about safe and responsible sex, transactional sex, exploitation, abuse and “my body, my rights”. The learners received the talks well and we had many interesting questions in the Q&A after the talk.

Our last outreach for the year will be in early November before the schools start with final exams.

Bravolution update

We are so proud to say that the Bravolution has become a booming success! We have received in excess of 100kg of bras since the start of the project in early 2018! The gratitude and joy that we see from our patients when they receive something that could be viewed as mundane by some, is just so satisfying and an absolute pleasure. It has been wonderful to see how women from all around the world stand together and support this project. We often find that women who enter the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic are in such a poor economic state that they often don’t even own a bra! Imagine the delight when they receive some!  

Help a girl out

What a positive reaction we have had! It only goes to show how willing the people of our community are to help! Thanks to the men and women of Hoedspruit we have received a large number of sanitary products during August. This allowed us to fill up our goody bags for outreach as well as give every patient in need a pack of pads. We would like to continue this drive and we are very excited and focusing hard on the re-usable/washable sanitary pad project.

Migrants Recreation Day
Migrants Recreation Day

Links:

Bra fitting.
Bra fitting.

It would not be possible for the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic to function and provide much-needed services to members of the greater Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, had it not been for each and every donation received from you, our GlobalGiving family! Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to each donor!

Only 2 breasts for *Penny!

It gives me great pleasure to share the story of one of our sex workers with you. *Penny came into the women’s clinic with a condition called poly-mastic breast tissue. This means that she has excess breast tissue under both her arms that looks like two extra breasts. Penny also had cystic breasts and a few other pathologies that were concerning.

After consulting with the Breast Health Foundation, it was decided that Penny should go to the Breast Clinic in Johannesburg to consult with the team there.

The consultations confirmed that she had no malignancies. Penny, however, was still “stuck” with the aesthetically unappealing extra breast tissue. This influenced all aspects of her life and income. The doctors at the Helen Joseph Hospital decided to provide *Penny with surgery that would remove the extra breast tissue.

*Penny has since recovered from surgery and is doing very well!

(*Penny is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of our patient.)

Volunteers improve diagnosing process with new software

Early in June, sisters, Madeleine and Samantha, started volunteering with Hlokomela. Samantha is 21 and is starting dentistry in September 2019. She is volunteering at the main clinic, Charity Shop and Herb Garden, she also helps out in the Women’s Clinic when needed.

Madeleine is 20 years old and she is a third-year Biomedical Engineering Student. Madeleine came to introduce a system called Koios. This is a software program specifically designed to assist in categorising breast ultrasound images into the international BIRADS rating system. The system rates masses from BIRADS 1 – 6. In other words, it rates a mass as benign, suspicious or malignant, with different criteria for each rating. Koios allows you to load an image of concern onto the program, the image is then run against thousands of images in the database. It then gives you a “second opinion” and assists with a BIRADS classification. Madeleine received a scholarship and a big part of her trip to South Africa and Hlokomela was made possible through the Koios company. Madeleine is teaching me and assisting me to get to know this program so that it can help me in the Women’s Clinic as a second opinion on difficult images. This program is user-friendly and FDA approved. It is used by many radiologists and Ultrasound Technicians in the USA.

Current patients

We currently have 10 patients who have gone for further testing and/or biopsies for suspected Breast Cancer. Three of the patients are currently in the process of receiving treatment plans.

Into the lives of patients

On May 2nd, a camera crew (initiated by the Breast Health Foundation and the Tshemba Foundation) visited the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. The aim of this visit was to conduct interviews with some of the staff members and patients. The crew joined me at the bus stop where patients started their journey to Johannesburg from Hoedspruit to receive treatment at the Helen Joseph Hospital. They also visited some of our cancer survivors at their homes and captured a glimpse of their daily lives.

Bravolution update

I never imagined that this initiative would take off the way it has! I am overwhelmed by the generosity and selfless support from women from all over the world! As mentioned in previous reports, Dr Hemelaar took the Bravolution to her friends and colleagues in the Netherlands. Around mid-June Dr Hemelaar’s friend from the Netherlands, J. Zaal came to visit South Africa. With her came a suitcase filled with 14kg of bras!! Wow, this was quite a handover!

We have had wonderful moments in the Women’s Clinic during bra fittings. Every woman receiving a bra also receives a little bit of dignity and pride. This is what caring does to people. I am super proud to be a part of this organisation!

Links:

Washing line full of bras donated to Hlokomela!
Washing line full of bras donated to Hlokomela!

Hlokomela Women’s Clinic is going from strength to strength and with the support of the GlobalGiving family, we are able to reach new heights, some of which I take pride in sharing with you today.

Bravolution Update

We are proud to say that we are receiving bra donations on a regular basis at Hlokomela Women’s Clinic! We have been able to do fittings and give bras away to 10 patients since the project started. Very recently, some Brazilian visitors donated a whole washing line of new and used bras, over 300 of them!

We also plan to start an underwear drive in the near future, where people can donate new underwear to the vulnerable patients of the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. The need is so much greater than we can ever imagine!

A baby was born…

A huge part of what makes Hlokomela such a wonderful organisation is the ability of the staff to handle challenges. The personality of the organisation allows for people to grow, develop skills and with regular staff/team building events, we become equipped to deal with challenges and “out of the ordinary” situations as they arise.

In February one morning a woman (9 months pregnant and fully dilated) walked into the Hlokomela Clinic. Keep in mind that we do not offer maternity services as yet so this was not a regular event at all! The staff quickly assessed the patient and found that she was moments away from giving birth. With quick thinking, improvising and amazing teamwork, a little baby girl was born. Healthy and happy! This was truly a joyous day. Mommy and baby were taken to the Tintswalo Hospital with an ambulance for evaluation after the delivery.

Cancer patient receives treatment

During March, 3 patients were transported to the Helen Joseph Hospital for further testing and consultations with their doctors. One of our patients *Grace Ngobeni, came to the Women’s Clinic in October 2018. She did not present with a significant mass but had a strange re-occurring nipple discharge. A slide was sent to the lab and low and behold, the results came back positive for carcinoma. After undergoing ultrasound, mammograms and numerous testing at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg, she received her final results and it is indeed breast cancer. The staging and treatment plan is yet to be finalised. If not for the Breast Health Foundation, GlobalGiving, Rotary and the Tshemba Foundation, for making the work we do possible, this patient may never have been diagnosed.

*Grace Ngobeni is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the patient.

 

In October 2018 a 4D scan was done on a 40-year-old pregnant woman. During our consultation, she disclosed that her doctor had ordered some blood tests to screen her unborn child for the possibility of Down’s syndrome. This test is mostly indicated for women of advanced maternal age.

The blood test came back positive. The patient and her husband took the news badly. Although the blood test is just a screening and a definitive answer would only be obtained by means of an amniocentesis test, the family was nevertheless very distraught.

The risks of the amniocentesis procedure were weighed up and the family decided not to have the procedure done. Over the past few months, the patient visited the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic for scans during which I also counselled her, tried to comfort her and gave her some facts and cleared myths about Down’s syndrome.

By the end of her pregnancy, she felt ready and more equipped for raising a child with special needs.

On Monday 28th January 2019 this patient came to show off her precious little baby boy.

The final test results of the baby came in and this little boy it turns out was born without the extra chromosome that would have caused him to have Down’s syndrome.

Keeping sex workers safe

At Hlokomela we are committed to providing good quality health care to sex workers. This is something we do without judgement or prejudice. Due to the high risk female sex workers face in developing cervical cancer, we focus on involving our Sex Work Project peer educators in keeping a database of referrals to the Women’s Clinic. This helps assure that no sex worker misses her annual Pap smear. This also allows us to consult and provide treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), arrange Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) if needed and just give some emotional support. It also creates an environment where our women feel safe and comfortable to talk about their social or domestic problems, report abuse or just ask health related questions.

CANSA Shavathon – it’s all for a good cause!

On Saturday 13 April 2019, Maruleng Auto in Hoedspruit in conjunction with Hlokomela hosted a CANSA Shavathon. This was held at the Maruleng Auto premises in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, South Africa. This is a drive that motivates people to get involved in supporting cancer awareness. By donating an amount of money, you can have your hair sprayed in different colours, or on a more serious note, you could have your hair shaved off. The hair then gets used to produce wigs for cancer patients who lose their hair due to chemo therapy.

On this day, Hlokomela Women’s Clinic sold cupcakes as this was an opportunity to make the public aware of the work we do as an organisation. We also shared information about breast and cervical cancer. All the proceeds of the day were generously donated to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

Hlokomela staff at CANSA Shavathon
Hlokomela staff at CANSA Shavathon

Links:

                              Hlokomela Women’s Clinic Report

                                                  

                                                    

 

We are excited to reflect back on the last 3 months at the Hlokomela women’s Clinic.

2018 has been an award-winning year! Literally. The Hlokomela Women’s Clinic was nominated for a Community Chess Impomelelo Social innovation award.

We won a Gold award! The award ceremony was held at the prestigious Art scape Theatre in Cape Town on the 28th of November 2018. Along with this very honourable award, came a R30000-00 cheque.

The women’s Clinic decided to allocate the funds toward the production of re-useable sanitary towels.

With over a million South African girls missing school every year, due to not being able to afford sanitary products, we believe that investing in this project will allow us to help many young girls, not only for one or two months, but for much longer periods of time. Allowing them to attend school and obtain an education. This is the right of each child in South Africa.

No girl’s education should ever be hindered by the inability to obtain sanitary products.

Referrals

 

As mentioned in previous reports, one of our greatest challenges remains the referral system for patients with possible malignant findings in their breasts.

 

As also previously reported, negotiations between the Breast Health Foundation, Discovery Health and Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, it has now become possible to refer patients to a Breast Clinic in Johannesburg. The Helen Josef Hospital’s Breast Clinic now allow for patients from the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic to consult with the amazing team of doctors and specialist, under the lead of Professor Carol Benn. Prof Benn is well known all around the world for her research, and ground braking work in the breast oncology field. 

 

We are proud to announce that we currently have 5 patients under the care of Prof Benn and her team. Each patient at a different stage of diagnosis and or treatment.

 

The Breast health Foundation, under the guidance of their CEO, Louise Turner and Discovery Health, has generously agreed to take care of travel costs from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg as well as to provide accommodation to patients while undergoing testing or receiving treatment.

 

 

16 Days of activism against women and child abuse

 

On Saturday 8 December 2018, a group of farm workers, Hlokomela employees and members of the community, participated in a fun walk, in protest against the abuse of women and children. The high summer temperatures we experience here in Hoedspruit, and it can be extremely hot with mercury rising to mid-40’s (degrees Celsius) did not prevent us from part taking in this very important event. The day ended with one of our local farms, Rederberg Estate, hosting a friendly soccer match. The day was filled with music, fun and an awareness of the cause.

 

 

 

The “bra” drop

 

 

During the last 18 moths of working with female farm workers, it has become apparent that so many women do not own the correct fitting under garments. Many women simply cannot afford to buy bra’s or wear wrong sizes handed down to them from family members or friends.

The Hlokomela Women’s Clinic identified the need and decided to launch a project called The Bra drop. This project allows for the donation of new or previously loved bra’s to the women’s clinic. These garments are washed and sorted according to size.

When a patient enters our clinic and the need arises, we go through out stock of bra’s and find the correct size to fit the patient.

We have had a great response with this project and we hope to help many women in 2019.

 

We are very excited about 2019. We trust that we will help/ guide and continue to provide much needed breast cancer screening and other women’s health related screening to our farm workers and extended communities.

 

Team Hlokomela Women’s Clinic


Attachments:
Sr Nomsa Mashile teaches breast self examination
Sr Nomsa Mashile teaches breast self examination

We are excited to give some feedback on the last 3 months here at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

The team from Jacaranda FM (Possibly the largest South African Radio station and certainly one of the most popular) form part of an amazing initiative where the morning show host, Martin Bester (DJ and musician) and his band tour the country and involve communities of the towns they tour across South Africa.  There is no cover charge for the show, instead, people are requested to donate a blanket as entry fee, or in the case of Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, a packet of sanitary pads.

On 10 August 2018 the tour came to Hoedspruit! Hlokomela Women’s Clinic was the beneficiary for the event. The morning Breakfast show was broadcast live from the Moditlo Events Hub.

Christine du Preez and myself, Sonja Botha, were given the opportunity to talk about Hlokomela and in particular, the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, live on air. We were able to talk about the 4D Ultrasound now available and about the impact that the Women’s Clinic has on the Hoedspruit community.

This event was a huge success! The sanitary products and blankets have already been given to people in great need of these very basic things. 

Referral system

Identifying and diagnosing pathology is one thing, what comes after that is another thing altogether.

The referral system that is in place within the Government protocol, is just not effective or even functional at best. This challenge came under the attention of the COO of the Breast Health Foundation, Louise Turner. By January 2019 with the support of the Breast Health Foundation, a proper referral system, including accommodation, support before during and after treatment, will be put into place and made available for each patient with breast cancer.

Discussions and negotiations are also underway to allow for biopsies and more advanced procedures to be done locally.

Outreaches and Events

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Rotary in conjunction with Hlokomela hosted a wellness day on 12 October 2018. This event was a great success and just under 100 women were given free physical breast examinations and education on breast cancer. 

Throughout this month Hlokomela Women’s Clinic is involved various outreaches and awareness campaigns on farms in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region. The aim of these outreaches are to promote awareness about breast and cervical cancer. These events give farm workers the opportunities to receive physical breast examinations and the opportunity to be referred to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic in the case of a suspicious finding.

During these outreaches, women are given talks on women’s health and encouraged to ask questions. Each woman receives sanitary products and male and female condoms are also offered to them. We reach 200 to 350 people on such a day. 

The Hlokomela Women’s Clinic was also invited to speak about breast cancer at a “high tea” event for the elderly in the Hoedspruit area. Breast self-examination was demonstrated, a session of questions and answers allowed for some fun interaction. This was a lovely opportunity to reach yet another vulnerable group of women in our society.

Volunteers

We are very excited to welcome Dr. Petra Friedmann to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. Dr. Friedmann is a German gynecologist and will be volunteering from early October and into November. Many of our patients have already benefitted from her knowledge and skills. I am personally looking forward to learning as much as possible from her.

Thank you to our GlobalGiving friends for your support over the last 3 months!  You make all the difference to our work here at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic!

Kgopotso teaches young girls about safe sex
Kgopotso teaches young girls about safe sex
Breast cancer awareness for farm workers
Breast cancer awareness for farm workers

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Hoedspruit Training Trust

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Hlokomela
Project Leader:
Christine du Preez
Hoedspruit, Limpopo South Africa
$68,923 raised of $80,000 goal
 
152 donations
$11,077 to go
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