Globally, breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women, and one of the most common forms of cancer overall.1 Closer to home, on the continent of Africa, South Africa records the highest incidence rate for breast cancer, with a lifetime risk estimated at 1 in women.2 It is also important to note that, although rare, it has been recorded that 1 to 3% of South African men are also diagnosed with breast cancer.3
As such, Zogera Kara, Pfizer Category Lead for Vaccines, Oncology, Inflammation & Immunology, says Pfizer Oncology is deeply committed to advancing scientific innovation and transforming the current state of breast cancer care for the millions of people around the world and in South Africa, who are affected by breast cancer every day.
Pfizer has a decades-long heritage in research and development, she says. “This, paired with an innovative use of technology and real-world evidence have accelerated our ability to deliver breakthrough therapies for those living with breast cancer.”
However, she points out that successfully treating people with breast cancer is more than just developing medicines. “It is for this reason that this breast cancer awareness month, Pfizer has sponsored Cancer Dojo, a social enterprise that empowers cancer sufferers to play an active role in their cancer therapy, with the intention of making them more resilient to the negative effects of the disease.”
Cancer Dojo helps cancer patients make the transition from feeling helpless to being actively engaged in their own healing. This, in conjunction with the patient’s prescribed medical treatment protocol from a healthcare professional, is aimed at empowering them to deal with the entire treatment and healing process in a more positive way.
Cancer Dojo founder, Conn Bertish, believes that empowering patients to play an active role in their own healing, together with medicine will ultimately enable them to build their resiliency and help them to become happier and healthier.
“Cancer warriors can enhance their understanding of cancer, share experiences and build their resilience within a supportive, inspired community with Cancer Dojo,” explains Bertish.
In October, Pfizer will be delivering 800 breast cancer mandalas to oncology centres across South Africa as a way to help the patients calmly meditate on their own healing and treatment.
“Mandalas are an ancient form of Asian art, dating back to the fourth century. Studies have since found that they are effective in helping reduce stress and keeping depression at bay4,” says Bertish, who explains Cancer Dojo’s latest range of “Healing Mandalas” which were created specifically for common cancers like breast, brain and lung cancer.
The Breast Cancer Mandalas caught the eye of Kara, who jumped at the chance to help empower patients during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Studies have shown that being diagnosed with cancer can substantially affect a patient’s mental health, such as bringing on depression and anxiety. It has also been recorded that this can impact cancer treatment, recovery and quality of life5,” she said.
As such, Cancer Dojo’s mandalas seemed like the perfect initiative to uplift and empower breast cancer patients, Kara added.
“We are committed to supporting patients each step of the way – providing access to medicines, as well as additional resources and support. Together, we are continuously striving to develop breakthroughs that change patients’ lives,” Kara concluded.
 World Health Organization. Cancer. Breast Cancer. https://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/diagnosis-screening/breast-cancer/en/. Accessed 3 October 2020
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269781/ accessed 3 October 2020.
3 https://www.westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/breast-cancer-awareness accessed 3 October 2020.
4https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232582396_Empirical_study_on_the_healing_nature_of_mandalas. Accessed October 3, 2020
5 https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-019-6181-4 Accessed October 5, 2020