Breast cancer initiative revved up
20 October 2008, 09:39
By Jessica Bell
They’ve revved up public interest to earn more than R1-million for charity during an epic 2 000km journey across South Africa, and now a dozen breast cancer survivors have raced their Harley-Davidsons into the Mother City.
The Temptations Journey of Hope Breast Cancer Ride arrived safely in Cape Town on Saturday after eight days on the open road.
From their starting point in Johannesburg, they traversed the country raising money and spreading awareness about breast cancer.
The team, who were accompanied by about 200 members of local motorbike clubs, was met by Cape Town Deputy Mayor Grant Haskin at the V&A Waterfront on Saturday.
Haskin expressed his admiration for the women for “conquering life’s challenges”.
“Due to ignorance, lack of information and awareness, many women die of breast cancer in South Africa. With information and education the picture could look much different,” Haskin said.
The 12 cancer survivors visited schools and town halls on their journey to demonstrate breast self-exams, hand out leaflets and tell people how to beat breast cancer.
Diane Parker, the project’s founder and one of the 12 riders, said that if detected and treated early, breast cancer is not a death sentence: the survival rate is 95 percent.
“One in 27 women are diagnosed with breast cancer of which 24,4 percent are Asian, 18,2 percent coloured, 17,9 percent are white and 13,3 percent are African women,” she said.
Breast cancer is the second biggest killer among women in South Africa and the fourth deadliest of all cancers in South Africa, according to the latest figures available from the South African Medical Research Council.
The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) said on its website that inconsistent messages in South Africa’s “fragmented” breast health service impede women’s ability to make informed choices, limiting the possibility of early detection and treatment.
October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Cansa has appealed to women to check their breasts regularly and to get screened.
Parker reiterated this advice and said that women must check their own breasts for lumps.
She said the trip was a success in raising awareness across the country.
“It exceeded our expectations,” she said.
“The support from communities was overwhelming and we did even more than we expected to.”
The money raised will go towards reconstructive surgery for 12 breast cancer sufferers.
The women, who have not yet been chosen, would not otherwise have been able to afford the surgery.
For more information about the Journey of Hope visit http:www.journeyofhope.co.za.
* This article was originally published on page 4 of The Cape Times on October 20, 2008