Patient Support Service

Reach for Recovery in essence is a voluntary organisation that renders an emotional and practical support service to persons and their families that has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This sets the organisation apart from other breast cancer organisations that focus on awareness (Primary Prevention) and screening (Secondary Prevention). The particular focus if therefore on providing service that is post diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

When a person first finds out they have breast cancer, they may feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, and alone. While under this stress, they must also learn about complex medical treatments and choose the one that’s right for them. Talking with a specially trained Reach for Recovery volunteer during this time can provide a measure of comfort, as well as an opportunity for emotional grounding and informed decision-making.

The particular focus if therefore on providing service that is post diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Trained volunteers visits patients in hospital, either before or after the operation. Emotional and practical support is provided at this time and if necessary, at any later stage. Patients are supplied with a booklet and pamphlets dealing with various topics relevant to breast cancer patients. They receive a soft prosthesis (temporary breast form), a cushion for under arm comfort and a bag to contain the port-au-vac drain. Volunteers can also provide information on types of permanent prostheses, as well as lists of where those items are available within a patient’s community. No products are endorsed. Permanent prostheses (silicone) are offered to non-medical aid patients where funds permit.

Target Group

  • Women and men diagnosed with breast cancer and who is referred to Reach For Recovery by a Health Professional. These may be patients that are pre-operative, post-operative or who are receiving neo-adjuvent therapies
  • Immediate family members and friends of diagnosed breast cancer patients who are referred by the patients themselves

Volunteer Support Service

For many women the diagnosis of breast cancer is a major life stress, for themselves as well as their loved ones. While women will rely on physicians and other health care professionals for treatment and medical care, many of their psychosocial needs can be addressed through peer support and visitor programmes. Carefully selected and trained volunteers, who have had breast cancer, can provide support to new breast cancer patients, to help them meet the emotional, practical and informational needs related to the disease and its treatment.   Most importantly, Reach For Recovery volunteers offer understanding, support, and hope because they themselves have survived breast cancer and gone on to live normal, productive lives.

The Reach To Recovery International Breast Cancer Support Service (RRIBCSS) visiting programme does not interfere in any way with the patient’s relationship with her physician and other health care professionals. The programme fosters and open and productive relationship between volunteers, patients, family and members of the medical and allied professions.

The Volunteer Support Service Programme focusses on the actual volunteer base of the organisation. All Reach For Recovery volunteers complete an initial training and participate in ongoing continuing education sessions. Volunteers also actively work for breast cancer awareness through talks to encourage breast cancer self-examination and outreach programmes into all communities. Any other person who wants to support the organisation by volunteering their services to do admin work, fundraising or awareness raising, is welcome to join any Reach for Recovery Group.

Volunteer are grouped in Reach For Recovery Groups covering a specific geographic area. They meet on a quarterly basis to report back on statistics regarding number of patients reached, awareness activities and also fundraising achievements.

Target Group

  • Breast cancer survivors who have learned from their own experiences, and are realistic about themselves, and are committed to their own personal growth and development
  • Breast cancer survivors who can work co-operatively as a member of a team as well as working independently
  • Breast cancer survivors who are able to make a commitment to training requirements and additional education and supervision programmes
  • Any other member of public who wants to support the organisation by volunteering their services to do admin, fundraising or awareness raising

Prosthesis Support Service Programme

When a woman has had all or part of a breast removed, when the doctor says the patient is ready, a woman could be fitted with a breast form or prosthesis. Breast prostheses are breast forms that are put inside a bra to make your breasts look natural and balanced. They can be used in regular bras or mastectomy bras. Mastectomy bras have pockets inside that help keep the breast form in place and have a comfortable backing behind the form.

Types of breast prostheses: A temporary prosthesis is made of material that will not rub or hurt the healing area on a woman’s chest. It is tucked into the bra cup to provide a smoother shape. A bra extender may make the bra more comfortable until the swelling from surgery goes down. A permanent prosthesis is designed to look, weigh and move like a natural breast. They are made from silicone, foam or other materials. When properly fitted, a permanent prosthesis provides balance for good posture and helps prevent back and neck problems that can happen when a breast has been removed. It also prevents the bra from sliding up and gives a natural shape to clothing.

Reach For Recovery volunteers provide all referred breast cancer patients with a temporary soft prosthesis, a bag for their port au vac drain, a cushion for under arm comfort and a firm sponge for hand and arm exercise. These items are provided free of charge. However, not all patients can afford the cost of a permanent prosthesis. Although as much support as possible is given to the paying customer in terms of selection, affordability and even fitting a silicone prosthesis, Reach For Recovery believes that all women who have had breast cancer surgery should have timely access to appropriate breast prostheses, regardless of whether they can pay for it or not. We believe that such a support service will allow indigent breast cancer survivors to regain dignity and carry themselves with pride as women in their communities and therefore making a positive contribution to de-stigmatise cancer in communities.

Target Group

  • Breast cancer patients in need of a permanent silicone prosthesis and who are in the position to pay for it
  • Breast cancer patients who are not able to afford a breast prosthesis and in many cases not even a bra for the prosthesis to fit
  • Breast cancer patients in the public sector where women are mostly from the low income groups