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Nursing Sister Inspires Cancer Patients


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By Ashok Ramsarup :: Breast cancer is reported to be one of the most common deadly disease among women in South Africa. According to statistics one in every 25 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the country in the southern tip of Africa.

The World Health Organisation has expressed concern that breast cancer is one of the serious health problems which is expected to double by 2040 as it had claimed about one-point-38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc around the world, South Africa is commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness month under the theme ” Give Hope, Save Lives”.  Health Minister Zweli Mkhize who is diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus, launched Cancer Awareness Month on Transnet’s Phelophepa Primary Health to provide basic health care to disadvantaged communities free of charge in Klerksdorp, located in the North West Province.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize at the launch Cancer Awareness Month and Sister Rita Naidoo – cardiac rehabilitation unit manager at Life Westville Hospital

Among the services included eye and oral care, psychological assessments, education and screening for HIV and AIDS, Cancer and Diabetes and medication and treatment for minor ailments.

Whilst Breast Cancer is one of the leading causes in women in developed and developing countries. Reports indicate that the incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the developing world as a result to an increased life expectancy, increased urbanisation and adoption of western lifestyles. Some risk reduction might be achieved with prevention, these strategies cannot eliminate the majority of breast cancers that develop in low-and-middle-income countries where breast cancer is diagnosed in very late stages.  But there’s a glimmer of hope, early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival is the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

51-year-old Breast Cancer survivor Rita Naidoo brings a ray of light to women after being diagnosed with the disease in December 2002. Sister Naidoo who is currently the cardiac rehabilitation unit manager at Life Westville Hospital. After graduating as a nurse, has recalled her ordeal when her twins graduated from pre-school.  

Sister Naidoo discovered an unusual daunting lump on her breast and this has placed a huge challenge in her life.  The emotional nurse says her husband Gregory and children Garrett, Brenton and Sheree and family members immediately showered her with love and moral support when she underwent mastectomy. She says the family had been the pillar of strength and had played a crucial role in her life to face the new challenges.

Sister Naidoo says early warning cancer detection programmes are important for survival after being cared by nursing colleagues during her illness that paved the way for her recovery that ultimately led to the improved quality of life. She has made it clear that early breast cancer detection to a large degree reduces deaths, extends life expectancy. “As health professionals one learns to impart knowledge to fight the disease and self-examination that’s vital for survival,” she says.

Sister Naidoo who hails from Chatsworth in the south of Durban qualified as a nurse from the nursing college at St Aiden’s Hospital after matriculating from Protea Secondary School, has clinched many awards during her career.  One of the accolades she treasures very closely to her heart when she was crowned the outstanding Ambassador for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) in raising awareness and spreading the gospel of hope to people with cancer.

The dedicated nursing sister says she’s a living testimony that cancer can be fought with a positive attitude. “I have beaten this disease and my talks focuses on encouraging cancer patients not be discouraged about chemotherapy as I am walking miracle,” says Sister Naidoo.

Sister Naidoo says when she was  honoured  with the International Hero of Hope award her primary goal was to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients that they can overcome all obstacles and hurdles that they face. Her motto in life is to encourage breast cancer patients to become ambassadors of hope to the rest of the world.

Meanwhile Dr Mkhize who is in quarantine at home, has made an impassioned appeal to all South Africans to adhere to health protocols, including wearing face masks, keeping physical distancing, and washing or sanitizing hands. His wife, Dr May Mkhize also tested positive for the coronavirus.   She is admitted for observation and rehydration.

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