Cancer support group needs new home

Reach for Recoverys Cape Peninsula branch needs new premises.

A breast-cancer support group will have to clear out of its Mowbray offices at the end of the month and is now hunting desperately for new premises.

The Cape Peninsula branch Reach for Recovery says it needs a suitable space for its Ditto Project – about 5m by 4m with storage cupboards for the stock – and enough room to hold its support groups when lockdown levels allow.

The Ditto Project raises funds for external silicone breast prostheses that are fitted and provided for free to state mastectomy patients. It’s helped more than 6 500 women since 2011.

Reach for Recovery can only pay R4 000 rent a month, and that money comes from fund-raising efforts, which have been disrupted by Covid-19.

Branch chairwoman Carla Lind said: “We are looking anywhere where the premises will be on a taxi and bus route for easy access to our services.

“Mowbray would be great, but we cannot afford to pay too much rent.”

According to Reach for Recovery national manager Stephanie van Deventer, the Ditto Project is on hold as prostheses can’t be fitted because of physical distancing rules.

“The Covid-19 pandemic also affects our fund-raising efforts so the loss of the premises is a big concern. We are awaiting confirmation of the protocols to be put in place to be able to resume our prosthesis-fitting service. Breast cancer has not stopped in this pandemic and finding a location and safe space to store stock and operate from is imperative so that we can resume our support services as soon as we can,” she said.

Ms Lind said they had heard late last year that the building housing their Mowbray offices had been sold.

“We have not been to office since the lockdown and two weeks ago it was closed for sanitation, after one of the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) staff members had tested positive for Covid-19. We were told on Monday June 1 that we would have to vacate by Tuesday June 30.”

Ms Lind said during lockdown they had been unable to give care packs to hospital patients, do fittings for prostheses, hold meetings and talks, fund-raise and do outreach work.

“We are only able to provide telephonic and email support. No visits to patients in hospitals are allowed at this stage,” she said.

Dr Justus Apffelstaedt, a supporter of the Ditto Project and a specialist surgeon, said it was an essential service that should resume as soon as it could.

“We are assisting Reach for Recovery in their search for new premises as we recognise women’s need for prostheses and the subsequent emotional and mental benefits.

“We appeal to landlords who are able to assist to please get in touch.”

Reach for Recovery has 23 branches across the country, with six branches in the Western Cape. If you are able to assist, contact Ms Lind on 083 280 3456.