The Breast Course for Nurses and the IASSS

The Breast Course for Nurses is growing at an alarming rate indicating the need for this type of education for nurses. However, it is impossible for a course like this to grow without the input of sponsors and people willing to help and give of their time.

The UCT Surgical Society has kindly taken on the Breast Course for Nurses as their project. They will be hosting the Inaugural International Association of Student Surgical Societies (IASSS) Symposium combined with the 2nd Annual Southern African Student Surgical Societies (SASSS) Symposium. The symposium's topic will be "Becoming a Surgical Pioneer" and will offer the delegates involved lectures and practical workshops related to this.

They will kindly be donating 5% of all proceeds from their registration fees to our Breast Course for Nurses! We thank them for their involvement and support!

For more information see their
website: http://www.iasss.org/

Sensitive Midwifery

On Friday, it was my pleasure to speak at the Sensitive Midwifery Symposium in the Midrand, Gauteng.  The conference is organised by Lillian Paramor and the organisation is in it's 19th year.  Sensitive Midwifery publishes a magazine on a quarterly basis and this is free for individual subscribers.

The conference was well attended by 250 midwives.  I was there until lunchtime.  There were a variety of talks but for me, two sessions stood out.  One was a session on role of dance during pregnancy.  The whole group of us were encouraged to do belly dancing.  The session was led by  Debbie Lake.

Map showing countries practicing FGM

We went straight from that to a talk on female genital modification (FGM) given by Doreen KM M'Rithaa.
She is the head of midwifery at University Stellenbosch.  The talk was sobering and horrifying.  It is impossible to believe that this barbaric practice is still be carried out in so many countries.  Her ending note was "Lets encourage Genital integrity".

There are 2 other midwifery  symposiums this year: one in Durban at the Suncoast Conference Centre 25-26th July  and one in Cape Town, River Club, 22-23 August.  I can recommend them to any midwife.


Port Elizabeth Breast Course for Nurses

Prof Woods teaching
Yesterday, we spent the day in Port Elizabeth starting a Breastcourse4nurses programme.  The day was well attended and timed to coincide with an advocacy training course being run by Salome Meyer in conjunction with Reach to Recovery.  Whenever I have been to PE, it has rained and the the weather didn't disappoint yesterday.

We had 44 nurses attending the course from 7 different hospitals.  The course was held in the very suitable Netcare Education centre.  As always, the food was good and plentiful.

Dr Linda Jones teaching breast examination
It is the first time we have held a course since the book was published with all the modules.  Pathcare kindly sponsored the book so all participants had a free copy.

Sr Lieske wearing a course T shirt
As I have mentioned before, it is a wonderful opportunity to find out what is happening in different areas in the country.  We had several nurses from Jefferies Bay (a wonderful place to holiday if you haven't been there). One talked to me about the problem of referring women seen in a private into the state system.  Not only is the course providing an opportunity to educate nurses about breast care, it is also and opportunity for them to discuss referral patterns.

Thanks as always to our sponsors: Netcare (especially Greenacres and Chritiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Pathcare and Carecross.

The whole group holding up their copies of their books given by Pathcare


Happy Birthday Lara

Last Friday, my morning started with a phone call from Mark Myerson.  He told me that his wife was planning a birthday party on Saturday and that she had decided to ask for donations to the Breast Course 4 Nurses rather than accept presents.  It was an amazing start to my day!

Elena and me
I had agreed to spend the morning umpiring at the V and A rowing regatta.  After some negotiation, I
did the (rather damp) early shift on the water and then joined the Myersons for the party.

I don't know them socially but Cape Town, being a small town, meant that not everyone in the room was a stranger.  I met the Myersons through Elena Varde.  She is from the Phillipines and the Myersons are her "South African family".

Lara had put out pink envelopes and invited her friends to donate money.  The amount given surpassed any expectations!  Thank you to all of you for your extraordinary generosity.  Lara will meet up with Sr Lieske next week and decide on how the money will be spent.  We have a course coming up in Port Elizabeth which is starting in 10 days time and we have over 50 nurses attending.

However, the value to the organisation of an event like this is not limited to the money raised.
There were many people there, mostly women, and during the morning,  I had several discussions which started with "I have such and such a skill, can I do.... for the oragnisation..." The sustainability of our project is dependent on people with different skills and ideas contributing.  It allows us to access more nurses in rural communities and so benefit more women.  The suggestions from this event included really exciting ideas and developments I had never thought about.

Lara, I am certain that your birthday will have a significant effect on the success and sustainability of this project.  To you, Mark, Elena and your extended family and friends: thank you from all of us!

Lara with her sister, neice and sister in law


Aromatherapy as complementary therapy

Last week, I bumped into Doryce Sher again.  She was a pharmacist and is now an aromatherapist and is the founder of the very impressive Aromatic Apothecary based in Cape Town.  Many years ago, I went to one of her lectures.  She was speaking to a medical audience, most of whom were dubious about the relevance of aromatherapy. (At the time, I was organising the lectures and there were several doctors who were quite vocal in their objections).  I rarely remember the opening line of lectures but I recall hers:  "I can't cure your patients but I can make them feel better".

Smell is a very basic sense.  It takes us back in time and place.  Smells that remind me that I am living in Cape Town include the smell of kelp and the brewery: the aroma of cow parsley takes me back to England.
Chemotherapy changes the sense of smell.  Many women complain that their food tastes peculiar.  Others associate the smell of the chemotherapy unit with feeling unwell.  Hospital wards have varying smells: some more pleasant than others.  Using oils to change the smell in the unit doesn't always work. What is soothing to one patient is intrusive to another.

Aromatherapy has been used in many different ways to relieve the unpleasantness associated with treatment.  The applications include inhalers, gels or creams.  I know of several women who have found using them has made their experience more tolerable.  In one study done looking at the benefit of aromastix for chemotherapy patients over 70% of patients felt they benefitted in some way.

Have you used aromatherapy to make you or another person feel better?  Did it work?  Please share your experience.  Should you wish for more information, please feel free to ask Doryce for her information sheets.