The Love Box Project

The fourth of February is world cancer day and the breast clinic at Tygerberg celebrated by hosting partners and supporters for an update on developments. The occasion was a "thank you" for people involved in the breast clinic.  Some of the volunteers are part of national or international breast cancer support groups (such as Reach for Recovery and Project Flamingo). Other projects are unique to Tygerberg Breast Clinic.

The Love Box is an example of such a project.  It was started by Zondelia Swartz who had breast cancer.  Although she works full time as a teacher, she wanted to give something to women who have breast cancer and perhaps don't have the support that she had.  She was unable to be with us on 4/2/19 so came and talked to us and the medical students 10 days ago about her experience and about the work she has been doing.

The love box or bag (preferably wrapped in pink) is filled with the following:
🌸white soap for sensitive skin
🌸face cloth
🌸 bank bag filled with maizena
🌸 lip ice
🌸 small lotion 
🌸small baby powder
🌸a pair of socks
🌸 roll on for sensitive skin
🌸maybe a mint sweetie or two
🌸ginger biscuits
🌸a little stress ball to help with blood circulation after mastectomy
🌸 a word of encouragement
🌸pink nail polish  (optional)

Karin Baatjes and Athalia October

To anyone who hasn't had chemotherapy the contents will seem random and bizarre.  Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of having radiotherapy and chemotherapy will immediately understand what a difference these can make.

 For a project to be sustainable, it takes more than one person to be involved.  Karin Baatjes (a colleague from Tygerberg) has been involved from the start of the program and enlists the help of students when carrying all the boxes to the clinic or wards.
Other people (such as Athalia October) have hosted Love Box parties.

Having breast cancer and undergoing treatment isn't only about physical experiences.  As a profession, we have been slow to understand the importance of wellness and listening to what is important to patients. Dr Karin Baatjes has been running a wellness project with the medical students for some time.  Every other Thursday, they are asked to choose an aspect of wellness and discuss it with the patients in the waiting room.  When Zondelia visited us last week, we changed the routine and asked the medical students to talk to women with breast cancer and have an open ended discussion with them about what barriers to care they had experienced.   They gave us anonymous feedback and Zondelia shared her experiences with them as well.

She stressed how important family support is and it was lovely for all of us to have her daughter with us.

On World Cancer Day, we thanked many other people.  To list them here, is not doing their contribution to the breast clinic justice but as the year goes on, I will blog about them as well. They include:
The Love Army, Reach for Recovery, the transport project, Reach to Recovery, Elna Sutherland and the Flamingo Project. From the corporate side, we would like to thank DigIt and Lancet.

Last but not least, Penny Steynor painted a scene for us for everyone who has contributed to the clinic to sign.  Zondelia signed this last week.

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