Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fighters Support Group sessions heal cancer survivors

Fighters Support Group (FSG) has become a family for cancer survivors all over the country.

Cancer patients and cancer survivors gather every now and then in what they call support sessions to discuss their experiences and to encourage one another to keep up with the fight.

Patricia Letlape is the founder of the group and is herself a survivor of breast cancer. Letlape was preparing for her marriage in 2015 when she decided to do a full body health screening. While screening, her doctor told her that she had a lump growing in her breast which was later confirmed to be breast cancer.

She described this to have been a traumatizing and depressing experience. Letlape ascribes her cancer experience as the birth of Fighters Support Group in 2015, a group which supports people who are on or have finished cancer treatment which also educates the public about cancer.

“Back then I doubted chemotherapy in Botswana and went straight to South Africa where I was swindled by a private doctor. I later asked to be transferred back to Princess Marina Hospital for treatment. I had the best treatment in Princess Marina Hospital and went on through the surgery. The doctors gave me options to either remove part of the affected breast or to remove it altogether. After understanding the pros and cons of both, I chose the latter and went through radiation,” she explained.

Letlape says that the group has helped her to heal. It helped her build confidence to share her testimony boldly. Before the FSG sessions, she did not want to hear the ‘C’ word being Cancer. She says the group helped to give her a peace of mind and she has realized that the more she talked about her experience, the more it freed her. “It brings closure. You get to know about other people who have made it.” the leader said.

During their insightful session last Saturday, FSG members encouraged cancer patients to trust government health facilities as there is a false culture that tells them that the government cannot assist patients well.  As survivors with positive testimonies about cancer treatment in Botswana, they discourage shaming of local health facilities, especially the oncology department.

They further illustrated how treatment of cancer is costly and most patients in other countries cannot afford it. Cancer treatment can cost up to P400 000.00 with a single treatment cycle costing between P10 000.00 and P21 000.00. In Botswana, treatment for cancer is fairly free in government hospitals.

FSG discourages the sale and use of black market treatments. All prescribed medications collected on the streets or from social media should be shown to professional oncologists for approval or dismissal.

Since its formation, FSG has run awareness campaigns to encourage the public to donate wigs for Chemo patients. They also encourage people diagnosed with cancer to seek medical help as soon as possible.

The group also reminds the public that cancers come in different forms be it thyroid, leukemia, prostate, ovarian, cervical, breast cancers among others. They encourage every single person to be alert about their bodily changes and to consult professional doctors for medical reviews.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.