MISA-Swaziland e-Forum article
October 18 2013
Can you brave the breast?
This is the question Swaziland’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Network (SBCCN) is asking as it prepares for its annual fundraising event.
On Saturday 26 October they hope to see over 1,000 people taking part in the Brave the Breast Challenge, held on the footsteps and slopes of Sheba’s Breast Mountain in Swaziland’s lush Ezulweni Valley.
Participants can choose their own challenge: a 5km round-trip walk to nearby Mantenga Falls; or a 10km trek up Sheba’s Breast mountain and then down via Mantenga Nature Reserve, finishing where you started at the Woodlands conference centre, opposite All Out Africa and Lidwala Backers.
“Brave the Breast, to me, means to be part of the people who are struggling through breast cancer and those who have passed on from breast cancer,” said SBCCN events coordinator Yazie Magagula. “It shows that we are with them, we feel their pain and we understand their physical state.”
Magagula said the money raised from the event will go towards SBCCN’s services and to continue getting the proper medication for those in need.
Lena Preko, office manager at SBCCN, echoed Magagula’s words. “The money raised from this walk will help to support our breast and cervical cancer services,” she said.
“We support patients with diagnoses services, so we pay for private laboratory services for emergency cases. We also support breast cancer patients with drugs as well as providing counseling services.”
When asked about the next step for the Network, Preko said they are working towards getting the country’s first chemotherapy clinic.
“We are hoping to bring chemotherapy to Swaziland, because at the moment the only form of treatment we have is the surgery,” she said. “The patients are either on their own or they rely on support from family if they are to have anything more than surgery.”
As for Braving the Breast on Saturday 26 October, SBCCN are not far off reaching their target of signing-up 1,200 people. With one week until the big walk nearly 800 people have paid up. At E150 a ticket they have already raised over E100,000 ($US12,000).
“For us, the walk is an opportunity to celebrate the survivors, to remind the community that we can all be affected by this condition, and we should be supporting improvement in the services here,” said SBCCN monitoring and evaluation officer Jo Chesson. “We rely on this [fundraising walk] so we can be financially secure so we can do our work and help the community.”
The event starts at 8am on Saturday 26 October at the Woodlands restaurant in Ezulwini Valley. For those who don’t register beforehand, registration on the day is between 6.30 and 7.30am.
“On the day there will be breast screening, so if you pay for the walk you will get free screening, free t-shirt, free breakfast,” said SBCCN clinic coordinator Bukiwe Dlamini. “I’m inviting the whole Swazi nation to come and join us, to hold hands so we can fight this killer disease.”
The camaraderie in the SBCCN office is clear, and they are passionate about standing in solidarity with people affected by breast and cervical cancer.
“If corporates, individuals, survivors come together we can join hands and fight cancer in Swaziland,” said SBCCN accountant Nokuthula Khumalo. “My heart goes to all those people who have passed on because of breast cancer… to their individual families and to people who are still battling with the disease; and I’m hoping they will find comfort in knowing that God is with them and we are also with them in prayers and in thought.”
SBCCN is open on Saturday 19 October from 9am-4pm to register people for Brave the Breast. The office is located at A3 Printpak Building, Sheffield Rd Industrial Site Mbabane — take the service road after Sheffield Rd before Galp to Printpak car park as roadworks currently blocking street entrance. You can also visit their office all next week to buy a ticket, or on the day of the walk if pre-registration has not exceeded 1,200 people.
To register you must submit participants details and payment or proof of payment to the office in person or by email. For more info call 24049270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
During October efforts are made around the word to raise awareness in order to treat and prevent breast cancer and assist those affected. Throughout the month in Swaziland the clinic at the Mbabane Government Hospital is offering free consultations on breast and cervical cancer health.
In all other months you can get a free consultation at the clinic at Mbabane Government Hospital on Thursdays.
Free consultations are also offered on Tuesdays in a clinic at the Manzini City Council Buildings, as well as at a clinic in the town of Hlathikulu in the Shiselweni region.
For more information contact the Swaziland Breast and Cervical Cancer Network on 24049270.