Hair shaved or sprayed for a good cause
Cancer, a dreadful and life-threatening disease, and the awareness of this illness may have been overlooked by our communities as the HIV/AIDS pandemic has received a lot of attention over the years. On 8 March 2012, VUT’s HIV/AIDS unit organized an event at the Amphitheatre to remind the VUT community of the existence of cancer.
Mr Vusumuzi Dlamini, Counsellor: VUT Clinic co-ordinated the campaign and encouraged people to come forward and donate to this cause. As a gesture of support to those who are affected by the disease, students and staff members gathered at the Amphitheatre to have their hair shaved or sprayed for R10. It was a colourful event as students walked around with their hair sprayed red, silver, yellow, purple or orange. Some staff members donated money to the campaign to help those who wanted to participate, but who lacked the necessary funds. Thanks to all of those who made this possible.
Free services offered by the VUT clinic on the day included pap smears, mammograms and other cancer-related tests. It was good to see that both students and staff visited the clinic to get tested. The fact that they got themselves tested, shows that they take responsibility for their health. However, it was disappointing that very few male students and staff headed to the clinic to get tested, as the disease affects both male and female, regardless of race.
The campaign was a success as students and staff came in their numbers. The VUT community has been encouraged to regularly undergo testing for cancer as the disease can affect different areas of the human body. Cancer can be prevented through education and we support and care for cancer sufferers and survivors.
Mrs M Motsukunyane, Director: HIV/AIDS Programmes said: “People with HIV/AIDS have a high risk of developing certain cancers, such as Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancer. For people with HIV, these three cancers are often called ‘AIDS-defining conditions’ and this means that if a person with an HIV infection has one of these cancers, it can signify the development of AIDS. Kaposi sarcoma is the most common HIV/AIDS-related cancer, and it is more common in men than women. It is estimated that a person with an HIV infection is 20,000 times more likely to develop Kaposi sarcoma than a person without HIV”. She added that “prevention is better than cure”. Remember the ABC of HIV and STI Prevention: Abstain, Be faithful, Condomize. Furthermore, it is very important to have yourself tested and once you know your HIV status, we will be able to do the right thing. HIV Counselling is also available to help those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Some of the students and staff members who were interviewed regarding their participation in the campaign, had this to say:
“It is important for me to know what is happening in my body”. 3rd year Biotech student.
“I do not know what a pap smear is and who should do it, so I thought I should come and find out”. 3rd year PR student
“Always thought a pap smear was for women who are older than 35 years or who have kids. So I heard things changed that as long as you are a female and engage in sexual activities you should have your cervix checked from time to time”. 3rd year Office Management student
“My classmate told me that she found a lump in her breast, so I thought maybe I should use the opportunity and get myself checked”. 3rd year Human Resources student
“I’ve always wanted to get my breasts examined, because I know that people do suffer and die from breast cancer. And, an earlier detection of the disease helps prevent chances of suffering from the illness”. 2nd year IT student.
“I thought I should get checked as lots of women suffer from (breast) cancer”. Admin Assistant
“I have heavy menstrual cramps which I’ve had examined in the past. I was advised to be operated on, but I need a 2nd opinion”. Laboratory Technician, Chemistry
CANCER AWARENES: Staff and students gathered at Ampitheatre to have their hair shaved or sprayed for a good cause.