Being diagnosed with cancer is a daunting experience and most patients appreciate all the support they can get to deal with the challenges of diagnosis and treatment. It is for this reason that the cancer support group, Hold my Hand, has been established at Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton, Johannesburg.
The manager of the oncology centre at Netcare Clinton Hospital, Pogiso Tlholoe, says that in addition to appropriate medical treatment, social and emotional support can greatly assist patients in dealing with the disease and its treatment.
“Netcare Clinton Hospital is therefore pleased to partner with support groups such as Hold my Hand, an outstanding initiative which was started at the hospital by cancer survivor, Claire McLoughlin. Through various means, including counselling, the organisation aims to ensure that oncology patients do not feel alone and unsupported,” notes Tlholoe.
According to Tlholoe, 4 February was World Cancer Day and the hospital’s oncology centre, together with Hold my Hand and the Cancer Angels Network, commemorated it through a special function held at the facility recently.
“The aim of World Cancer Day is to make the public more aware of, and educate them on the scourge of cancer and the causes, signs, symptoms and treatment of all forms of the disease. The early detection and treatment of cancer saves lives, so this is a most worthy cause and one that is fully supported by Netcare Clinton Hospital.
“Hold my Hand is a support group for cancer patients by cancer patients, and was established at the hospital to mark World Cancer Day a year ago on 16 February 2016,” explains Tlholoe. “We therefore took the opportunity to commemorate both World Cancer Day and the establishment of this important support group, which has already touched the lives of many oncology patients.”
“Claire McLoughlin was a patient at the hospital and felt that there was a great need for a support group for both newly-diagnosed cancer patients as well as those undergoing treatment,” explains Tlholoe. “She approached us with the idea and we immediately gave it our full support. We then conducted a study that showed that more than 95% of patients also felt a need for such a support service.
“Claire has shown a remarkable energy and fortitude in establishing the project and we commend her for her efforts. She has since trained four other cancer survivors who now counsel patients when they come in to our oncology centre for first time treatment.”
McLoughlin says that when an individual is first diagnosed with this disease, their world is often turned upside down. “The thoughts flood through your mind,” she adds. “What do I do now? Am I going to die? How am I going to deal with this?”
“We established Hold my Hand as a space where cancer patients can find an ear to listen, a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”
McLoughlin says that it takes a very special person to be a counsellor for Hold my Hand. All counsellors have themselves battled, or are still fighting, the disease. “They fully understand the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, and this is their way of giving back to others.”
According to Tlholoe, organisations such as Hold my Hand, Cancer Angels Network, Reach for Recovery, Head and Neck Cansurvive, and Look Good Feel Better play a meaningful role in providing support to cancer patients in the greater Alberton area.
“Our approach is to provide our patients with a holistic service focused on their overall wellbeing, and we therefore have no hesitation in partnering with these organisations,” she concludes.