Breast Course for Nurses in Durban

Last Friday, we started our 3rd Breast Course for Nurses in Durban.  We had nurses from Addington, Ngelezana (Empangeni), Albert Lutuli and Greys Hospital (Pietermaritzberg).  The course was held at St Augustines Hospital in Durban.  I went from Cape Town with Prof Wood and Sister Hill.  We were joined there by Dr Buccimaza from Durban

We were very warmly received.  We had an excellent conference room and delicious food provided by the hospital.

The core content for the course is the same wherever we teach it.  However, the emphasis can vary depending on the nurses present.  On this course, we have a less diverse cohort of nurses than we have had before and they all work in the public sector in specialised clinics.  Having explained what the course would cover, we asked if there were other topics they would like us to discuss.

Dr Krausey demonstarting an echocardiogram 
After the diagnosis of cancer and before chemotherapy can start, many patients are sent for an echo cardiogram.  Mr Naidoo (Addington Hospital) asked to see how one was performed.  Although it wasn't part of the the introductory day's agenda, I mentioned this to Dr Dorning (medical superintendent of St Augustine's Hospital) and within 30 minutes, Dr Krausey (cardiologist) arrived with his echocardiograph and, using Mr Naidoo as a model, showed us all how the investigation is done.  Thank you!
Mr Naidoo (nurse from Addingtons Hospital) as a patient

Whenever I teach, I learn more about this country and about the variable medical conditions.  I am constantly humbled by the dedication of health professionals working in poorly resourced facilities. Listening to the stories of how many women are diagnosed with advanced breast cancer makes me realise how important it is to try and make a difference at the primary level.  It makes me appreciate the excellent facilities I have become accustomed to.

As always, a huge thank you to our main sponsors: Netcare (especially CBMH ) and Care Cross.  Our Breast Course for Nurses website is up and running.  Please find out more about us on www.breastcourse4nurses.co.za

Dr Dorning (St Agustine's Hospital) and Dr Ines Buccimaza


Judge Jan Steyn

On December 30 2013, the breast cancer community lost a great supporter.  Judge Jan Steyn died peacefully at his home in Cape Town aged 85.  He was a remarkable man.  There have been many tributes listing his achievements both as a lawyer and as the head of the Urban Foundation and the Independent Development Trust.

His mother, Zerilda Steyn, was born at the end of the 19th century.  She studied social work at Stellenbosch University  and at Princeton University, USA.  Her major contribution was campaigning for housing for the elderly and those from low income groups.  She received an honorary doctorate from Stellenbosch in recognition of her work.  She taught her son that the most beautiful word in the Afrikaans language was "besorgheid" which means concern.

Jan spent much of his life fighting for justice and the rights of those who society chose to forget. When he married, he chose a partner with equal dedication who devoted her life to helping women with breast cancer.

Ann Steyn has been head of the Reach for Recovery movement at a local, national and international level.  In that role, she has spent many hours helping other women come to terms with their disease, many days organising the local branch, many weeks away from home during her tenure as international head of the organisation.  Legions of women with breast cancer benefitted from her time and compassion.  On a personal level, I have often been grateful for Ann's pragmatic approach to life.

There's no doubt that without Jan's support, she would not have been able to work as tirelessly as she did.  We often refer to the the woman behind the man.  How often do we think about the man behind the woman?

My condolences to Ann and the family.