As I have spent the weekend recuperating from food poisoning (having spent Friday night at a well known Cape Town harbour fish restaurant), I have been watching more of the cricket than I normally would.  Being British born and living in South Africa means that I am enjoying seeing the Aussies
having a hard time.  However, I have to say "Well done" to the Aussie cricket board for their "Cricket cares" campaign.  The aim of the charity to get the cricket fraternity to give back to the community.

Their 2 main charities are the McGrath foundation and Movember.  Both are charities involved with cancer issues.

The Mc Grath foundation was set up after Jane McGrath, wife of Glen McGrath, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Since its inception, it has raised $1.5 million dollars.  Much of that money goes into funding breast cancer nurses: nurses who help women navigate the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.  At the time the Breast Course for Nurses was being set up, I had correspondence with a number of breast cancer nurses organisations in Australia.  Although they have a more equitable heath system than we do, they have many rural clinic and so some challenges are similar to ours.

I am not up to date with what Cricket South Africa does for the community but would like to thank them for their pink cricket matches (the money goes to Pink Drive).  Whilst I am on the subject, I would like to publicly acknowledge the huge amount of work done by an unsung Cape Town hero,  Robin
Robin Jackman
, (South African cricket commentator) who has helped raise an enormous amount of money for the Hospice foundation in RSA and lately for the Mercy ship.

Before I can go back to hoping the Aussies get totally humiliated, I have to add that the Mc Grath foundation claim that 89c of every $1 donated goes directly to their projects.  Well done to them.


The other breast

One of the wonderful things about living in Cape Town is being able to go to Adventure Boot Camp (ABC) in Kirstenbosch Gardens in the morning before work.  We have an energetic but easy going instructor, Jason.  All in all it is a wonderful way to start the day.

ABC has 4 week cycles.  Last week was week one. As there were new campers we were asked to wear name badges.  I had mine in the usual place on my chest.  A new camper read my name badge and noted that her husband would follow up with the comment "What is the other one called?"

What do you say if you have had a mastectomy?  What is an appropriate response?  Missing?  Chester? I can think of many more answers and would be interested in your ideas.


World cancer day: what about an developing world perspective?

World Cancer Day came and went and there was scant attention paid to it in this country.  Should we bother ourselves with the plethora of special days?  Are they just a publicity exercise?

CANSA had a slide show addressing some of the commonly held myths about cancer.  The topics tackled were important but they do not address the problems faced by the majority in this country.

Source: Lynette Denny
The commonest cancers in women in Africa are cervical and breast cancer.  Why then, is the question of vaccination against HPV (which will result in a massive decrease in the number of cases of cervical cancer) not at the top of the list?  An excellent article explaining the issues about cervical cancer in the developing world and putting forward possible preventative strategies has been written by Prof Denny.

Not all my colleagues agree with me, however.  Last week, I had a discussion with a surgical colleague about the importance of looking at the problems of inequality of breast cancer care in South Africa.  There are huge disparities between the management offered for those with ample means and those without.  I urged that we should look at finding local answers rather than using first world models to solve developing world issues.  He astounded me by asking if I wanted "Voodoo" solutions.

This graph (source: BBC) shows some of the problems in the developing world.  The majority of the health budget is spent on treatment and care for suffers of infectious diseases.

As health practitioners involved in the management of cancer, we should be lobbying to get more resources.  It is absurd that we should think of local solutions as Voodoo solutions.

World Cancer Day is another opportunity to lobby politicians and their advisors that we have missed.


World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day will be celebrated tomorrow, the 4th February 2014. If you Google the term "World Cancer Day 2014", an average of 830 million results are given. This indicates that this is a well known day in the health calendar and is a topic that needs further discussion. This year the topic is "debunking the myths".  This is Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration.

The topics that have been chosen for discussion are: 
1. We don't need to talk about cancer.
2. There are no signs or symptoms of cancer.
3. There is nothing I can do about cancer.
4. I don't have the right to cancer care.

What do think about these topics? Are they relevant?  What topics would you like to see there


Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen has been in Cape Town for the last week.  He played at the Bellville Velodrome which is a relatively compact and intimate venue.  It was packed.  Tickets were sold out almost as soon as they were released some months ago, prompting an additional concert date.  What a wonderful performance. He wooed us and provided us with  3+ hours of nonstop, energetic music.  He sang a moving and memorable version of "We Shall Overcome" as a tribute to Pete Seeger who died this week.  Otherwise, he only spoke a little but noted,
eloquently, how cold the sea is around Cape Town.

How does a 64 year old rock star have anything to do with breast cancer?

During the performance, he picked several people to climb onto stage.  First was a young child.  Then others joined in the dancing.   One woman was led up by Bruce himself, she having held up a sign that said that she had survived breast cancer and melanoma.  She added that she had traveled
over 6000 miles to see him so I presume she was from America.

I am not sure how I feel about this.  What she did could be seen as inspirational, brave and courageous. Alternatively, it could be seen as using her illnesses to get a pass to be with one of the most famous musicians.  Is it a version of a DIY "Reach for a Dream" which is undeniably a wonderful organisation?  The fact he picked her out of the thousands of other women who would have loved the chance to dance with him says a lot about him.

How do you feel about this?  I would like to say a huge thank you to Bruce Springsteen.  It was certainly one of the most exhilarating concerts I have been to.