In South Africa the detection and treatment of breast cancer is the preserve of those with medical aid and the money to pay for it.
The burden of breast cancer in South Africa is on the increase. Many women and men do not receive adequate care for the disease because of lack of access and low levels of awareness. Unless medical care, education and screening practices are improved, breast cancer mortality rates are projected to keep increasing.
Non-profit organisation, The Journey of Hope now in its fourth year, was established to educate and create awareness about breast cancer, the importance of early detection as well as providing support to those affected by the disease.
The Journey of Hope 2011, which was launched today at Montecasino, aims at educating the public and to de-mystifying the myth that only middle-aged women are prone to breast cancer. Over the course of the seven days the group will be riding motorcycles to raise awareness and educate communities about breast cancer and continue along a personal path of growth and healing by building a supportive community with other people throughout the country.
John Mitchell, Product Manager from Honda Motor Southern Africa was pleased to announce that Honda motorcycles will be the official sponsors of the motorcycles, training and road support for the Journey of Hope 2011. “We are delighted to endorse the Journey of Hope campaign, and are glad to be a part of this wonderful initiative. We at Honda understand the importance of creating awareness and support the ladies and gentleman who will be taking the message of early detection across South Africa.”
From 09 – 15 October 2011, 15 breast cancer survivors from all walks of life will embark on reaching rural communities by riding Honda motorcycles from Gauteng to Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the North West, to reach outlying communities and educate them about breast cancer.
Claudia Zwane, 28 year old breast cancer survivor and rider says, “if I had not been vigilant about self- examination and detected the changes in my body early, I would not be here today. During this year’s Journey of Hope Ride, it will be important for us to focus on rural areas and bringing home the message about the importance of early detection.”
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) one in 27 South African women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 3 000 women die each year from the disease. Breast cancer is becoming more prevalent in younger women, but men are also affected and make up 1% of patients with cancer.
Tex Neveling is the Journey of Hope’s first male rider, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. “As the first man to join the Journey of Hope ride, it is important for me to raise awareness that breast cancer is not gender specific.” He hopes to change the perception that only women gets breast cancer and hopes to set a pace for other man to follow in creating awareness.
“It’s vital for people to understand the difference that detecting and treating breast cancer early can make,” says Zwane. “Most cancer campaigns are generally targeted at urban stakeholders and never reach the rural parts of our country where there is a great need for education. We also want to eradicate misconceptions and unfounded beliefs of breast cancer. In rural parts of South Africa, breast cancer is considered to be a result of a curse or poison sent by an enemy, or putting money inside bras; these are all myths that we need to dispel.”
Zwane continued, “Many women in the rural areas are without the much needed education on the basics of breast cancer and they hide their symptoms or simply fall into denial. When cancer is diagnosed early, treatment is often simpler and more likely to be effective. People are more likely to survive cancer if it is found at an early stage. With late diagnosis accounting for thousands of unnecessary deaths from breast cancer each year, it’s important to know what’s normal for your body and look out for any unusual or persistent changes.’’
For more information about the Journey of Hope 2011 ride contact their offices on 011 317 3861 or 082 840 3633 or visit their website www.journeyofhope.co.za