Monday, November 17, 2008

My New Link

Any form of headgear is not my favourite accessory, but I wore this bandana for this post to help promote breast cancer (and other cancer) awareness

Many years ago I lost my maternal grandmother to cancer. I can remember the trauma and upheaval so well even though I was only ten at the time. We lived in one city, and every night when my dad came home from work, (probably exhausted) we’d all get into the car and travel 86 km / 54 miles to Durban to visit my gran. She had been hospitalized and contrary to the doctor's prediction (that she’d have treatment and be discharged within a week or two) my grandmother lay there for six months and ultimately died in the impersonal general ward of a huge general hospital. She was fifty-six years old...

I’ve often thought about that period in our lives. How did my parents (especially my mum) cope?

We were four children under the age of fourteen; obviously we all had homework to do, had to eat, bath and get to bed after we returned from the hospital visit at about 10pm.
Cancer was not discussed nor were the patients or their families counselled. When my mum managed to corner and question the doctor dealing with my grandmother’s case, (they always seemed to avoid the patient’s family), he’d give her vague answers and never once was the word “cancer” mentioned. I can remember when my darling gran died and I saw the make-up pouch containing her lipstick -“Tomato Red” (Granny-Jo, not only do I have your name, I also inherited your love for bright lipstick) - her powder compact, her Blue Grass perfume atomizer, I wondered whether I'd catch her cancer by touching her personal stuff! I never asked anyone about these things either. None of us did. Now I feel terribly sad even voicing these thoughts, but there you have it. This is the way cancer was viewed when I was a child.

Today things are markedly different. Thank goodness.

There are hospices all over our country and CANSA (a Proudly South African Organization) has a reassuring mission statement * We will substantially reduce the impact of cancer by promoting health in all communities within South Africa, through advocacy and the sustainable facilitation of research, prevention, early detection and care.* Countrywide there are groups of dedicated men and women who are helping cancer sufferers to cope. (You can read more about CANSA here )

During October, (which is Breast Cancer Awareness month in SA) my hubby and I were in a clothing chain store. As our purchases were being rung up, he noticed a pink bandana which, if you bought it, you donated R20 - approximately US$ 1.80 - towards breast cancer awareness. (See how different things are today: in the past, men would NEVER have mentioned something lik breast cancer) The incidence of breast cancer among South African women is increasing, with more than 3 800 cases being diagnosed every year. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in this country. Many women still associate breast cancer with a death sentence, but in reality early detection of the condition can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis.

We added the bandana to the clothing on the counter.

This morning I took the bandana out of my wardrobe and the idea of a blog post formulated. Now, wearing scarves, helmets (for biking) hard hats (mining), caps or woollen hats, is not a fashion statement which flatters my face. Yet, I folded the bandana into a triangle and tied it onto my head. Having my photo taken with this headgear on gave me a millionth of an idea what it must be like to have to cover your head because cancer treatments have caused severe hair loss. That is why I placed this photo on my post today.

The reason why I have the breast cancer link on my blog is to encourage visitors to my posts to click on it (or add the link to your web page/blog as well). By clicking you help a woman who cannot afford it, to have a mammogram.

Thanks for visiting and thanks for clicking!


  1. JO, what a moving post this is. Thanks for being so honest & sharing the heartbreaking story of losing your Grandmother at such a young age - I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for bringing breast cancer to our attention. I'm off to click now ....

  2. Thanks Lynda, and thank you for clicking. Hugs Jo

  3. Thanks, Jo. This is a very sad post - yet a positive one when we compare treatment then and now. I'm so thankful for all the people who have devoted themselves to informing others about the possibilities for treatment. God Bless you.


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