First Cancer Survivors’ Summit in SA held in September 2015

First Cancer Survivors’ Summit in SA held in September 2015

More than 1 000 Cancer survivors attended the first-ever Cancer Survivors’ Summit, held on 10 September 2016 in Cape Town. The event was designed to encourage those who have been touched by cancer to share their experiences, and our hosting of it was in cooperation with the Cancer Alliance.

Cancer survivors from across the country were invited to make use of a new platform to share ideas and encourage others living with cancer to live creative and meaningful lives.

Hosted by the Cancer Alliance, a group of 22 Cancer NGOs are working together to ensure that the government prioritises cancer issues in South Africa, and Cancercare – one of the largest private oncology groups in South Africa. The one-day Summit promises was a unique new platform for cancer survivors to share their cancer journeys with each other.

The focus was on physical and emotional post-treatment issues and seeks to empower patients and survivors as well as their families and caregivers with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to create meaning in their lives, deal with anxiety and manage lifestyle changes.

“Cancer can be a lonely journey, and no-one really understands how it feels to have cancer – to face treatment – and then have to return to daily living unless you have been there yourself,” says Linda Greeff, Manager of Oncology Social Work Services at Cancercare and a cancer survivor herself.

“The Summit aimed to create awareness around cancer, encouraging survivors to get involved with existing NGOs working in this field and advocacy. Possibly most important of all, we want to give survivors hope, and the realisation that life is precious. Cancer is not a dead-end street. Armed with the right knowledge, support and tools they can still lead productive and creative lives.”

Speakers at the Survivors’ Summit included oncology specialists, patients and survivors who have developed good coping methods that they can share with others.

Cancercare is the largest private oncology group in the country, with cancer treatment centres in Constantiaberg, Rondebosch, Bellville [Panorama & Cape Gate], Somerset West, George, Port Elizabeth and East London. The organisation takes a holistic approach to cancer and its psycho-social support service forms a key part of its patient-centred approach.

“We focus on compassion, a passion for excellence and respect for patients while value-added services and comprehensive information on all aspects of cancer and patient care is offered too,” says Greeff.

Cancercare's first Survivors' Summit was an opportunity for cancer survivors and their caregivers to celebrate their journey with others... it inspired the attendees to live a life full of creative meaning despite their experience with cancer. Information was provided about new developments in oncology, managing late side effects of cancer treatment and the adjustments to lifestyles necessary to improve quality of life in post-cancer treatment.

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