Speaking at the pre-launch media briefing for World Lymphoma Awareness Day in Johannesburg, Lauren Pretorius, CEO of Campaigning for Cancer, said “This is the first time that there has been a globally coordinated campaign.”
She said 64 countries including South Africa will participate in creating a worldwide network of lymphoma patients, their caregivers and loved ones, and healthcare practitioners.
“It’s a step in the right direction to a global effort to create awareness about lymphoma and advocate for access to treatment for patients,” said Pretorius.
The activation of this network will centre on a Twitter chat on September 15 at 2pm South African time. The chat will focus on the unique hashtag, #EverythingChanges.
According to Pretorius the warning signs of Lymphoma can be similar to other less serious illnesses, and can sometimes be mistaken for ﬂu or fatigue.
“We believe it is essential that members of the global Lymphoma community stand together raising a collective voice that tells the world that we need to focus on this disease,” Pretorius added.
Campaigning for Cancer has established a Lymphoma Patient Advisory Board (PAB) and together Campaigning for Cancer and the PAB have worked to understand the needs of South African lymphoma patients.
People can show their support for people living with lymphoma simply by engaging with them in the global social media chat on today at 2pm.
Klaas Meyer, a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, said that in March 2014 he started to get sick.
“I had a fever, night sweats and headache which resulted in me losing weight. I went to a doctor and he gave me some medication and told me that it was just flu,” Meyer said, adding that the symptoms persisted.
“I went back to the doctor and he referred me to Baragwanath Hospital and I was admitted. Two days later I was discharged without a diagnosis.”
Meyer went to several clinics but did not get better. So he turned to private doctors who referred him to Netcare Garden City Hospital for tests.
“But I could not be helped because I did not have medical aid. So I was given a referral letter for Baragwanath Hospital, and they took two weeks to diagnose me.”
Meyer’s first chemotherapy took place in July 2014.
“I was given 12 cycles of chemotherapy and on 17 February 2015, I was in remission. And it has lasted until today,” he said happily.
Felicity Jethney (32), who was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, said “I was devastated by the news. I could not understand how a young person like me could get cancer. I always thought of it as an older person’s disease.”
Jethney said that she always feared that she would not survive, as many people have lost their lives to cancer.
“I thought about my children, and if they would have to grow up without a mother. I promised them I was not going to die, and I intend to keep that promise,” she said.
An edited version of this story was also published in Health24