Annually, October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month - an opportunity to place focus on women, reducing their cancer risk and to raise awareness. Santam, through our CSI department, has donated R100 000 to Project Flamingo, a non-profit company founded in 2010 dedicated to reducing surgery waiting time, to support newly diagnosed cancer patients and to alleviate pressure on the Oncology units.
The funds allow doctors to perform “catch-up surgeries" at Groote Schuur Hospital (Cape Town), Tygerberg Hospital (Cape Town), Livingston Hospital (Port Elizabeth) and George Provincial Hospital. Catch-up surgeries help alleviate incredible strain on theatre and staff resources that have led to waiting times of up to 14 weeks for cancer surgeries. Each surgery list costs between R16 000 – R30 000 in nursing and consumable fees with surgeons and anaesthetists donating their time and skill free of charge.
Depending on the type of procedures performed and availability of staff, between four to nine patients receive their surgeries on such a theatre list. To date, almost 700 patients have received their surgeries on these lists. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, surgical waiting times have taken a further knock and the fall-out nationally is tremendous.
Another focus area of Project Flamingo's funding is directed toward creating pamper packs for all newly diagnosed cancer patients. Every week a panel of expert clinicians, including surgeons, oncologists, pathologists and radiologists meet with approximately 20 newly diagnosed patients to discuss their diagnosis and treatment plan. This is a life-changing and traumatic afternoon for these women – and the pamper packs are an attempt to keep their feminine spirit alive. More than 7000 packs have been handed out to date and have become a token of hope.
Project Flamingo is currently busy negotiations to expand the project to a Gauteng hospital in 2021.