The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) is celebrating International Volunteer Day this December.
As stated by the organisation, without volunteers, it cannot deliver quality emotional and practical support to cancer patients, loved ones and caregivers or educate local communities regarding how to lower personal cancer risk.
Volunteers are an integral part of Cansa, helping to render valuable care and support services and assisting with fundraising, marketing, health promotion and administration, said the head of marketing and communications Lucy Balona.
She said volunteers take the lead in communities to offer services to patients, their families, and caregivers.
“They further raise awareness by conducting talks and holding exhibitions in their local communities, promoting Cansa’s cause and getting involved in advocacy work.
“Volunteering can provide the opportunity to learn many skills that can be carried into a career, including leadership, managing meetings, negotiation, and communications.”
Lisa Strydom, Cansa service manager, volunteer programmes, said, “We have a new initiative to assist cancer patients at our Cansa information and support desk project at public hospitals, offered by our trained volunteers who provide information to patients and help with referrals to Cansa support groups, tele counselling, and other services.
“We recently received approval to launch information desks at Universitas Hospital (Bloemfontein) and Robert Sobukwe Hospital (Kimberley). We hope to expand to other hospitals soon.
“Oncology patients at public hospitals often lack cancer information and are not well-equipped to cope with the disease, either physically or emotionally, and we hope to provide some relief to them at a difficult time.”
Setting up the information and support desks is costly, and Cansa is encouraging online donations towards this venture.
Setting up a new information desk requires basic materials such as a trestle table, four plastic chairs, a branded tablecloth and pull-up banner, various printed materials (in appropriate languages) and name badges to identify Cansa volunteers.
“Ongoing costs incurred by volunteers include transport and data costs. Any individual, company or service organisation can make an impact by contributing towards assisting our volunteers so we can help more patients,” added Strydom.
The organisation applauded its volunteers for generously volunteering their time at Cansa.
She said their willingness to give their time and service was appreciated and their support allows Cansa to continue to fulfil its mission and serve thousands of people in our communities each year.