Pretoria - Surging cancer statistics in South Africa have prompted SA United Against Cancer founder Tshepang Lutshaba to find ideas about how to curb the problem.
In February this year, The World Health Organization estimated that 1.1 million new cancer cases were being reported in Africa each year, with about 700 000 deaths in the continent from the disease each year.
Lutshaba’s aunt succumbed to cervical cancer, while a number of her family members battled with the same disease, resulting in the birth of SA United Against Cancer – an NPO organisation based in Joburg.
According to Lutshaba, her organisation aims to bring about a paradigm shift in the approach to cancer prevention by developing new communication and advocacy methods.
Now she has organised a wellness walk against the disease.
“The initiative started in 2017 after losing my aunt from cervical cancer. It was then that I saw a need to raise awareness about cancer and make it my mission to change lives.
“I find the initiative helpful and we are on the right path. The Gauteng health department has been so supportive, while we’ve seen massive support from community and corporate companies. We’re happy with how things have been unfolding so far,” she said.
The story behind the wellness walk is to support people living with cancer and cancer survivors.
“After losing my aunt, I felt there was a need for me to have an NPO so we can assist people living with cancer, because my aunt had mentioned that rural areas still need to be educated about cancer. I had to live by her words and honour her.”
Lutshaba said some of the success stories around her initiative were that the organisation had affected the lives of over 22 000 people, with most having learnt about different types of cancer and guarding against it.
“The awareness we have created has enabled people to treat different types of cancer, they now know what the difference is between breast cancer or prostate cancer.”
She called for the government to assist people by giving more support and better services in hospitals.
“We can also have our government leading awareness campaigns for those who are still ignorant.
“The initiatives we have, like the Wellness Walk Against Cancer, need support from the government so we don’t only do it in October, but regularly, or on a monthly basis.
“If we raise awareness with each type of cancer, South Africa will stand a big chance to win against this disease,” she said.
This year Lutshaba has targeted getting 5 000 entries for the walk.
“Wellness Walk Against Cancer is a family event, so we encourage all people from different walks of life to join us and make a difference.
“This year we are aiming high, we have targeted 5 000.
“October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the country, with the walk taking place on October 28, hosted at the scenic Rietvlei Zoo Farm in Alberton.
“We will have live entertainment, health screenings, aerobics, and so much more.
“We urge people to bring the family for a day filled with fitness, fun, and a focus on fighting cancer.
“From kiddies’ play areas to health screenings, we have activities that cater to everyone.
“Participants will celebrate life while making a tangible difference in the battle against cancer,” she said.