The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and Netcare have partnered to establish a national virtual cancer support group. It will be open to everyone affected by cancer, including newly diagnosed people starting their cancer treatment journey, cancer survivors – even those who have been in remission for years – as well as relatives and caregivers.
The inaugural meeting took place last Saturday (26 June 2021), and included presentations by CANSA and Netcare representatives as well as a cancer survivor; the session allows for networking and discussion by all involved.
Gerda Strauss, national head of service at CANSA, said anyone could take part either via computer or a mobile device like a smartphone.
The plan is to hold monthly meetings but as interest and numbers increase, the format may be changed from a national to a regional basis, to keep the groups smaller and more personal.
“Partnering with Netcare and more specifically with Netcare Cancer Care, one of South Africa's largest private providers of oncology services, was an easy decision because of our shared passion for offering a holistic model of care and support to cancer patients on their cancer journey,” said Gretchen Minnaar, service manager – psycho social support at CANSA.
Rowan Robinson, cancer care navigator lead at Netcare Cancer Care, said: “Support groups is a way to empower individuals when they need it the most. The groups also provide a much needed platform where people who are facing similar challenges, fears and treatment side effects can share practical advice, celebrate ‘victories’ when they are told their cancer is in remission, giving hope to others who are still on their journey, and lending an ear.”
In February 2020, CANSA and Netcare established support groups at nine Netcare hospitals across five provinces. Plans for in-person support meetings, however, were thwarted with COVID-19 spreading throughout South Africa as from the next month, the subsequent lockdown, and the ongoing prevalence of the pandemic.
To join the virtual support group, email email@example.com or Gretchen Minnaar on firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 873 6358 for more information.