Breast cancer survival and recovery is all about people. The medical teams for their expertise and innovation, as well as family who send meals, friends who offer a lift or a kind word and those who reach out in care through every hard-fought step of the journey, like the supportive team at Reach for Recovery (R4R).
This national non-profit organisation is focused on bringing awareness of breast cancer to all South African women, no matter their location or financial situation. One of their most life-affirming initiatives is the Ditto Project, which provides silicone breast forms free of charge to state hospital breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy.
“These are expertly manufactured, as well as colour and size matched to each recipient,” notes Stephné Jacobs, the National Chairperson of Reach for Recovery.
Of the over 6000 breast cancer patients supported each year by R4R through pre-op calls, help at clinic visits, information distribution and hospital care packages, more than 600 were fitted with a comfortable breast prosthesis between January and November 2023.
At over R3000 per breast form, purchasing one of these is completely out of reach for most state hospital patients without medical aid.
To help pay that significant bill, the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA), along with Pick n Pay, each October runs the Power of Pink campaign, where R1 from every specially packed pink punnet of fresh mushrooms sold in PnP stores nationwide goes towards the Ditto Project. In 2023, a total of R438 912 was raised.
“At Pick n Pay, our instilled value is that ‘doing good is good business’, and through the Power of Pink campaign we are proud to contribute to raising awareness and funding for those battling cancer,” says Jacqui Peacock, Commercial Manager Produce & Horti at the retailer.
Part of the campaign success is that “many customers enjoy mushrooms, both for the taste and health benefits,” she notes.” We are also seeing it grow as a meat alternative for some customers.”
“It is always an honour for us to be part of uplifting South Africans, and in this case, underfunded breast cancer survivors,” says SAMFA Chairperson, Ross Richardson. “We are guided by research from the University of Kent and the University of Reading which found that uplifting your own health by eating good-for-you fresh mushrooms, vegetables and fruit, and taking part in regular exercise, can indeed make you a happier and healthier person.”
The recipients themselves find receiving Ditto Project silicone breast forms transformative!
Beatrice Mopp, an 80-year-old retired teacher from the Eastern Cape, was fitted for her breast form in November last year.
After two years of arduous treatment, she had been placed on a waitlist for a prosthesis at a state hospital. “I waited for more than a year to no avail,” she laments. That’s when a family friend put her in touch with R4R. “The volunteer called me and arranged an appointment to meet me at home as I do not have transport to visit their office. The fitting of the prosthetic breast was such an exciting experience. My initial anxiety and apprehension was allayed by the calm and relaxed manner in which I was treated.
“Words are inadequate when trying to express the elated feeling I experienced on receiving my prosthetic breast. To say I felt like a young woman again is putting it lightly. It gives me so much joy to be able to hug my grandchildren fully without flinching that they will feel my flat side. Gone was the hunched left shoulder as I am now balanced and confidently walk with my chest out. I remember smiling, in fact laughing, when I saw my image in the mirror. Truthfully, my confidence and dignity as a woman have been restored by getting the prosthesis.”
Elated is the emotion shared by many breast cancer survivors following their fitting. “After breast cancer treatment I was asking, ‘why me?’, not knowing the sun was going to shine again,” shares Gail Coombs from the Cape Peninsula. “I was looking for help with a prosthesis. My niece was planning her wedding. I searched Facebook and came across Reach for Recovery. After the fitting, my sister and I went dress shopping with the prosthesis in its box. Oh my, it was the best day of my life. Later that month I looked absolutely stunning at the wedding, with so much confidence – two boobs like God made us. Everyone that knew my story was stunned. So much confidence; smiles and compliments. The prosthesis changed my life for sure. It fits perfectly, is soft and comfortable. I am wearing it with pride, being whole as a woman.”
On behalf of all recipients, R4R, SAMFA and PnP, thank you South Africa for your generosity and ongoing support of the yearly Power of Pink campaign!
Now take a moment to think about adding more nutrient-dense fresh mushrooms to meals for your own preventative health going forward, perhaps even enjoying Mushroom, Kale & Black Rice Bowls with Za’atar Tahini Sauce https://rebrand.ly/vtmxvbj in solidarity with World Cancer Day on February 4. You can also select the Power of Pink tab at https://bit.ly/31Tza3V for more meals that will lower your cancer risk and uplift both your mood and wellbeing.
#goodfood #nourish #mushrooms #antiaging #antiageing #budgetfriendly #plantprotein #flexitarian #eatplants #blendability #whatsfordinner #plantbased #WorldCancerDay #breastcancer