People Living With Cancer (PLWC) was established in 2002 by Carl Liebenberg and Linda Greeff, both of whom are cancer survivors. For the past seven years the organisation has set about developing volunteer counselling guidelines that are aligned with international protocols and this has allowed the organisation to have one of the most established volunteer psycho-social programmes in the country.
The buddy support network offers a “buddy” support network where cancer patients can interact with and receive advice and support from cancer survivors who have a similar profile, disease and treatment protocol.
PLWC has established branches in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and in Mpumalanga by training and recruiting volunteers (buddies) (all our volunteers and caregivers are cancer survivors and have been through the cancer journey). Our aim is to provide support to newly diagnosed cancer patients when treatment starts, to assist with the initial adjustment to the process. This service ensures that a cancer patient and their caregivers have access to support services near their treatment units.
PLWC aims to develop a national support system for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. The organisation aims to assist cancer patients and their families individually, or within groups, in dealing with:
- their diagnosis and treatment;
- emotional and psychological issues;
- legal, social and;
- living with, and beyond the treatment of cancer.
The importance of support while learning to live with cancer is fundamental to developing a true cancer survivor approach. Dealing with each “chapter of survival” involves more than medical management; it requires attention to your psychological, social, emotional, spiritual and practical needs as well. Developing a patient active approach which empowers the patient to take some control over the process and which encourages them to see healing as more that just physical, is an important outcome the cancer buddies try to achieve.
Talking with someone who has survived cancer and has regained their life offers hope and a sense of empowerment. Through empowerment comes a positive attitude, which has a profound effect on the outcome of the treatment.
“Survivorship begins at the moment of diagnosis and continues throughout the course of life, no matter how long or short that life may be. But there are cycles and varying terrains on the journey of survivorship.” – National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, USA.
The most important support I needed after my diagnosis was to simply talk to others who understood.” Carl Liebenberg, co-founder and director of PLWC.