Flying pink

Flying pink

Since 2013, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), through its Flying for Life project in South Africa, has been partnering with CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation and Pink Drive to run cancer awareness campaigns in the rural clinics in the Vhembe District of Limpopo.

CHOC focuses on training professional nurses, home based care workers and traditional healers, while Pink Drive focuses on raising awareness of cancers within the community.

During their visits, the CHOC and Pink Drive teams run cancer awareness campaigns at clinics where community members learn about breast, cervical, prostate and testicular cancer, as well as the warning signs for childhood cancers. This includes demonstrations on how to check for lumps and teaching the community the importance of doing these simple checks. Cancer awareness training is essential because many clinics and traditional healers know very little about cancer and how to identify its early stages.

During a visit to the Manenzhe clinic, in the Mutale District, local nurse Sister Nekhubvi told us about an 11-year-old girl with a growth on her eye. The team met with the young girl and her mother and took photos of the growth to enable their expert ophthalmologists to make a diagnosis.

A home in Johannesburg run by CHOC was put on standby to receive the patient if treatment was necessary. We waited to hear the news and it was with great joy that we were told that she didn’t have cancer. After being examined further, a diagnosis was made that it was benign lump known as a granuloma. We were able to fly Professor Polla Roux, a volunteer ophthalmologist, to the remote village and he was able to operate and remove the granuloma.

MAF in South Africa arranges other cancer outreach flights where doctors, nurses and midwives are flown to remote areas to conduct cervical screening tests. Before the tests are conducted, the medics explain the importance of the examinations so that any concerns can be alleviated. The samples are then flown back and tested. If there is anything wrong, the patient is contacted and referred to the nearest hospital for further tests.