Become a volunteer

Reach for Recovery is a volunteer-driven organisation. Our volunteers are hard-working and dedicated people who give so much of themselves to serve people with breast cancer and their families. Join our family of volunteers and help make a difference to the lives of people – whether you engage in events, fundraising, community education, practical and emotional support or administration tasks. Since October 2014 our volunteer roles are open to anyone who is willing to help, however, our hospital visitors require that you have experienced the breast cancer journey and that you are at least 12 months post diagnosis and treatment.

Volunteer Stories

Our volunteers are people who give so much of themselves, but also acknowledge how much being a Reach for Recovery volunteer has helped them to heal and to support others on the same journey. Here are some volunteer stories:

Leonie Harry, East London

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2002. It was a turbulent time with so many decisions to take….. Then I joined Reach for Recovery as a volunteer. What an eye-opener and what a pleasure to connect with ladies from our training group – all breast cancer survivors. There was an instant connection between all of us. We all felt this passion to assist the newly diagnosed patient and to be there for them with practical advice and emotional support.

Being a volunteer for Reach for Recovery has opened a whole new world for me. It has been 11 years since I joined and I still value every single contact with a referred breast cancer patient – the fact that I understand the breast cancer journey because I’ve experienced and survived cancer to now provide her with support. I know my visit has been successful when she smiles at me or when we can share a joke.

Reach for Recovery has also afforded me the opportunity to visit the patients from different cultures and backgrounds. I have learnt that each one of them has the same concern: how the diagnosis is going to affect their femininity, their social life, their marriage and their children. Reach for Recovery has equipped me with the knowledge and skill to assist these women with their fears and concerns and to eradicate any myths that they might have heard.

Reach for Recovery has enabled me to forge friendships with women from all walks of life. I would never have met so many women if I had not joined the support group that has added so much value to my life.

Jenny Caldwell, Durban

Hearing that you have breast cancer at the age of 44 can be devastating news, especially if you still have a school going child. I am blessed with a strong faith, a positive attitude, and a great support network. That, combined with the early detection, the excellent medical team who looked after me and the emotional support of a wonderful husband, family and friends, I came through this journey with a new appreciation and understanding of what really is important in this life.

Facing a potentially life threatening situation truly does help to put things into perspective. I was given a second chance, and I had no doubt that it was for a reason. It was time to ‘give back’! In 2001, I joined Reach for Recovery as a volunteer. Over the past 14 years, I have met the most wonderful people, many of whom have travelled this same path. It has been my privilege to encourage, and walk alongside others on this journey, and to work together with fellow Reach for Recovery volunteers who have such a deep passion to help others through a difficult time. It has been such a positive, and enriching experience, and I am thankful for so much. I wake up each day filled with peace and joy, thanking God for this second chance. I am so blessed, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Tania Naude

My name is Tania. I was born in 1966 to an English Catholic Mother and an Afrikaans Dutch Reformed Father – the third of four children. Religion was always part of my life – but Faith? Faith would come later – much later.

In 1992 I married, but no children followed.  It did not bother either of us.  We were happy enough in each other’s company.

The bombshell hit in 2002 – I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and had a mastectomy of my right breast. Okay, we thought. Now we knew why there were no pitter-patter of little feet in our house.  As you can well imagine, Breast Cancer changed my life,  but not in the way you would expect. The day after my operation, I opened my eyes to see two middle-aged ladies standing next to my bed. Kind faces, soft smiles, tender hands. Brightly they introduced themselves – they were Volunteers from Reach for Recovery, and yes, they both have had Breast Cancer, and they are there to have a chat. Out popped the vacu-bag, the softy and a booklet.  All important items, but the most important part of their visit was the calm they brought to me – the knowledge that I was not alone. And with their help, I did not only survive, I survived with dignity. Slowly, my Religion became Faith – and my Faith became Helen.

Despite the chemo, despite the radiation, and despite the medication to suppress my estrogen, five years later, at the age of forty, I fell pregnant with our daughter, Helen. She was born in 2007, and she has become our Reach for Recovery branches’ Symbol of Hope – our Symbol of Survival. I believe that she will one day become a strong and special woman – after all, she is part of my extended Reach for Recovery Family. She is surrounded by the woman who constantly inspire me to go and visit a new sister to our ‘clan of survivors’; the woman who have taught me: “kind faces; soft smiles; tender hands.”

And most importantly: SURVIVAL WITH DIGNITY.