“Reach for Recovery and I share the same belief: that all women facing breast cancer must be treated with dignity and have the same access to care, regardless of whether they can afford it,” says Dr Apffelstaedt.
According to Stephné Jacobs, Chairperson of Reach for Recovery: “After an initial total suspension of our Ditto prosthesis service due to the close contact between fitter and recipients, we allowed some groups to resume the service under the current lockdown level, but our volunteers still had the choice to deliver this service. Groups in provinces who experienced large numbers of infection initially suspended fitting services, but as the situation changed for the better, they too resumed the service to patients. We are happy to report that 486 women received a subsidised silicone prosthesis compared to just 98 during the previous year (Year 1 of the Covid pandemic). This represents an increase of 388 prostheses.
Since March 2021 our groups have continued to increase their stock of prostheses to be ready to resume the fitting service when it is safe to do so. To date, total order of 635 prostheses has been placed with our service provider.”
“The Ditto Project aims to help women regain their self-confidence, giving them access to high-quality silicone breast prostheses and also assisting them – through local branches of Reach for Recovery – to ensure they choose the correct shape and size for their body,” says Jacobs.
“Having a mastectomy leads to a tier of decision making regarding whether to have surgical reconstruction, wear an external breast prosthesis, or not wear anything at all to replace the amputated breast,” says Stephanie van Deventer, national manager of Reach for Recovery.
“External breast prosthesis may be the best option a woman has, especially if she cannot either afford to or chooses not to undergo reconstructive surgery. However, not all patients can afford the cost of a permanent prosthesis. The reality is that many breast cancer patients in South Africa cannot even afford a bra, let alone a breast prosthesis.”
Dr Apffelstaedt is endorsing the NGO in its fundraising campaign by donating all money raised at any of his speaking events to the Ditto Project in the Western Cape.
In addition, Dr Apffelstaedt is funding a collaborative awareness campaign to assist Reach for Recovery in highlighting the project and driving donations.
“Reach for Recovery wants to help these women who come from low-income group to feel confident again after the traumatic diagnoses and surgery. We believe that a breast prosthesis is an important step in her recovery, especially for those women from communities where there is still a stigma attached to a cancer diagnoses. A more natural appearance with a breast prosthesis, together with the emotional support that she can continue to receive from Reach for Recovery volunteers through support groups, will help her to return to her place of employment and continue to provide for her family,” says Dr Apffelstaedt.
“We are very happy to have Dr Apffelstaedt endorsing the Ditto Project. This new collaboration, based on similar beliefs, will strongly contribute to enhancing our project through the voice of an expert on breast health management,” concludes Jacobs.