September 20, 2021
Sunflower Day celebrates the strides made in blood cancer research and treatment, but is also an opportunity for us to connect with cancer patients. The day offers the power of a clap-out for every patient who survives cancer of any type, including blood disorders. It is also a day to raise awareness about blood stem cell transplants which have proven itself to be a formidable treatment option.
DKMS Africa (formerly known as the Sunflower Fund) Country Executive Director, Alana James, says Sunflower Day has always been about celebrating and providing hope for blood disorder sufferers.
“Often, the only hope for a cure is a blood stem cell transplantation. Knowing that there are people out there who are willing to donate their stem cells is enormously encouraging for sufferers and their families in the face of often overwhelming challenges,” she adds.
“Stem cell donations are extremely easy to make,” says Busamed Modderfontein Private Hospital Oncology Unit Manager Sr Lindiwe Fokazi. “There are so many misconceptions about this type of donation. It isn’t invasive and there are no incisions made whatsoever,” Sr Fokazi says.
The process of finding out if you are a match includes registering to donate blood stem cells. Three sets of DNA swabs are collected from the inside of your mouth and cheeks, and there are facilities where this can be done from the comfort of your home. If you are a match, you will be contacted to donate.
The actual donation procedure is non-invasive and painless and does not require an operation, anaesthetic or incision. The reward is extremely gratifying, says Sr Fokazi. “To know that you are potentially carrying a means of helping restore someone’s quality of life, is in itself very powerful. So, I would recommend everyone to register.”
Sr Fokazi says technology has advanced at an impressive rate and these days patients can determine if they are carriers of genes that may lead to cancers, especially if there is a history of it in their family.
“Screening seems daunting because cancer is scary. But, there is nothing that rivals the peace of mind you have in eradicating worry or catching cancer early. Early detection remains our number one treatment plan for you, if you are at risk.”
Of course, the usual rules apply if you want to ensure you give yourself the best chance. Lifestyle audits that take into account your eating habits, stressors and hereditary factors will help in the long run. “If you’re not satisfied that you are in the clear, come in for screening test,” says Sr Fokazi.
There is a notion we hold dear to ourselves, here at Busamed. It’s that no patient, especially those who have lost their battle with cancer, endures this illness in vain. Every patient contributes valuable insight into the eventual cure for cancer. And we hope that today, this thought will comfort and inspire you to get behind the initiatives that try to raise funds and awareness.
Oncology Treatment is offered at the following hospitals:
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