Cancer survivors take to the catwalk

17 Nov 2017 13:30pm
WINDHOEK, 17 NOV (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Health and Social Services on Thursday celebrated its fifth Windhoek Central Hospital Cancer Survivors’ Day with a fashion show under the theme of ‘Beating cancer with confidence’.
This year’s celebration focused on building self-esteem, and cancer survivors themselves modelled cultural attire and wedding gowns to an appreciative crowd of other cancer survivors, cancer patients, families and hospital staff.
Izaan Diergaardt, a paediatric oncologist and social work intern at the Cancer Ward of that hospital, said they struggle to get survivors to the point where they can “find themselves” and be comfortable with who they are and understand themselves.
“We work to empower our patients and today, survivors just wanted to give back to their families and support groups,” Diergaardt told Nampa on the sidelines of the event.
Barbara Kamba-Nyathi was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 but was cancer free in 2010. She told this agency that she had undergone 12 operations due to medical issues caused by cancer, lost her hair and her uterus.
“Surviving cancer is not about being cancer free; it is about surviving with the changes in your body. It’s about not being ashamed of yourself and accepting that your body will not function the same way anymore,” she said.
Kamba-Nyathi, a licensed psychologist, said cancer is a difficult battle and patients need support from family and other members of society.
In agreement, Diergaardt said the most important thing is psycho-social support - patients need to feel needed and part of society.
She noted, however, that families of some of the children in the ward stop visiting.
“Some kids have been here for three years and their families don’t visit. They are going through so much already and they just sit with their own voices with nobody around them to listen and when they meet someone new, you see their faces brighten up so much,” said Diergaardt.
Despite their ordeal, many children - some holding intravenous fluid drips - were jubilant during the fashion show, singing, clapping, dancing and jumping around in joy.
The Cancer Ward is Namibia’s only public hospital that provides radiation and chemotherapy to cancer patients. It treats about 100 patients at a time.