REAL TIME HEROES TO BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS

The tireless work of South African non-profit organisation Reach for Recovery (R4R) is funded each year by the Power of Pink campaign, a South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association’s (SAMFA) initiative.

R1 from every pink punnet of fresh mushrooms sold nationally at Pick n Pay stores during October is donated to R4R’s Ditto Project.  The sole objective of this very special project is to provide free silicone prostheses to breast cancer survivors who cannot afford reconstruction after the life altering and heartbreaking reality of a mastectomy.

Launched in 2011, the Power of Pink campaign has resulted in just under 8000 silicone prostheses provided to financially strapped breast cancer survivors at a cost of more than R5,5 million.

“To our astonishment,” exclaims Stephné Jacobs, Reach for Recovery’s National Chairperson, “2020 saw the highest amount raised since the campaign’s inception.  Big hearted South Africans contributed just under R700 000.00 despite their own financial hardships brought on by a year of lockdowns and job cuts. We and the Ditto Project recipients have been truly humbled by this generosity.”

“We couldn’t be prouder of our association with Reach for Recovery’s Ditto Project,” adds SAMFA Chairperson, Ross Richardson. “The dedication of every R4R volunteer – a breast cancer survivor herself – and the immense kindness of all South Africans who support the campaign is such restorative testimony to the goodness that lives in people.”

Courage is grace under pressure,” said Ernest Hemingway in a 1929 interview with poet Dorothy Parker for The New Yorker magazine. He, of course, was right. Over these difficult Covid-19 years, it’s a mantra that has fueled and furthered R4R’s most delicate of work, performed out of the public eye.

“Lockdown regulations and the vulnerable health of breast cancer survivors in need brought about new challenges for R4R and our Ditto Project,” explains Stephné. “But being survivors ourselves, we realised very quickly that we could and must continue with our services in other ways! As we have done for 53 years, we continued our work with the assistance of advanced technology. Our organisation’s Peer Support Services passionately offered ongoing much needed support via telephone, WhatsApp, and video conferencing. I am proud to be able to say that we were able to comfort women who not only went through mastectomies but who would also have had to live through the dreadful experience in complete isolation if we were not at the other end for them!” 

Whilst fresh mushrooms and breast cancer have a strong humanitarian connection in South Africa, there is another scientific link between fresh mushrooms and the fight against breast cancer. In 2010, the Beckman Institute at the City of Hope Cancer Centre in California found that eating just 10g of mushrooms a day more than halved people’s risk of developing breast cancer. That’s means eating just one fresh mushroom a day, a staggeringly easy step in self-care to avoid the ravages of such a terrible disease. 

So, in 2021 let’s once again take courage together, for each of our own health and the restoration of breast cancer survivors. Let’s once again purchase fresh mushrooms in pink punnets at Pick n Pay stores from September 20 this year in an extended Power of Pink campaigns that will run until the end of October.

For more information, please contact Gina McLoughlin on gina@rgcom.co.za or 0824137538.  Alternatively go to SAMFA’s website: www.mushroominfo.co.za

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