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Pink Proteas do it for cancer research

Breast cancer survivor Nersan Govender with Momentum’s Charlotte Nsubuga-Mukasa and former goalkeeper Brian Baloyi.

Breast cancer survivor Nersan Govender with Momentum’s Charlotte Nsubuga-Mukasa and former goalkeeper Brian Baloyi.

Published Apr 6, 2021

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Johannesburg - South Africans always look forward to the one day in the year when dressing in pink becomes a national uniform.

On Monday, the One-Day International (ODI) cricket match between the Proteas and Pakistan saw the Proteas win by 17 runs. The national team were dressed in pink for the Pink ODI.

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For the last 10 years, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Momentum have partnered with the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital to raise money to help accelerate research into, and awareness of breast cancer treatment.

At the weekend, Momentum hosted a cricket-viewing event as the lockdown restrictions do not allow fans to fill the stadiums.

“Although Covid-19 is pandemic number one and gender-based violence is pandemic number two, 19.4 million women in this country aged 15 years and over will be diagnosed with cancer. These are primarily black African women, because they make up the majority of women, statistically speaking, in South Africa,” said Charlotte Nsubuga-Mukasa, Momentum brand marketing head.

She added that many women died due to late detection.

“If they just knew a little bit better and caught it at stage 1, the treatment options would be less invasive and less damaging, and they could go on to live happy lives afterwards.

“Because of a lack of knowledge, we are not taught to sit down and have a conversation about cancer. Even when you are diagnosed with cancer, you are not taught to break it down to the family, so family members aren’t empowered to help you navigate that journey that can be very lonely.”

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She said Momentum’s role in the Pink ODI this year was a little different due to the pandemic.

“While we can’t be in stadiums, we can still remind people to donate. We’ve created the WhatsApp Bot to help people. There’s a tutorial that can show you how to examine your breasts, a geo-locate to help find the nearest cancer clinic.” The bot also has information from survivors, oncologists and financial advisers.

Also in attendance was breast cancer survivor Nersan Govender, who found out he had cancer after enquiring about a pimple under his nipple.

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“Once it started growing, I went to have it tested. I remember the date so clearly, it was June 17, 2013. I went to the outpatients department and the doctor said I needed to get a biopsy. The woman who did the biopsy asked me a question: What’s your support system like and do you have all your paperwork in order? That’s when I knew this thing wasn’t looking good.”

It was the 10-second call Govender received four days later that confirmed the cancer. His tumour was rare; one in 100 people have it, and many men do not know it is there, making the survival rate very low.

“Many males discover it late, at around stage 4. In my case I was lucky to be given a second chance at life.”

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Govender is also the part of the Wings of Hope Cancer Support nonprofit organisation. He said the easiest thing to do was to literally, be in touch with your body. “When you’re taking a shower, feel your body and anything that doesn’t feel natural – pimple, boil – watch it for a few days and if it’s still growing, go and get tested.”

From next year, Momentum will redirect its sponsorship to the women’s cricket team.

“It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and support more women athletes,” Nsubuga-Mukasa said.

The Star

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