In a remarkable display of true sisterhood, almost 1,000 “gently worn” dresses have been donated by South African women to others who are struggling to cope with the hindering burden of cancer.
The collaboration between Miladys and the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) epitomises the spirit of compassion, and highlights – particularly in Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) – the constant challenge faced by thousands of women in their daily experience with living with cancer.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women, worldwide. In South Africa, it is the most common cancer among women, accounting for 22.6% of all female cancers and 16% of cancer deaths among women. Overall, more than half of all cancer diagnoses in SA affect women.
Those fighting the disease and coping with treatment – and women who have survived it – deal with numerous challenges, including body changes. Often, said Louise Howell, Miladys head of marketing, their resources are constrained.
Not only the survivors themselves, but mothers enduring the trauma of children with cancer, or who have lost children during or after treatment – all should be acknowledged, she added.
“So many are so focused on survival that getting a gift of a dress is extraordinarily meaningful to them. We want them to feel beautiful and feminine even during trying times, and our customers responded to our call, donating – within just three weeks – 920 dresses.”
Joani Sadie, CANSA’s corporate relationship manager, said the organisation’s ultimate goal is to lead South Africa towards a cancer-free society.
“We aim to provide access to care and support when someone is faced with a cancer diagnosis. To achieve this, we collaborate with like-minded organisations, like Miladys, that share our passion for enhancing the lives of people affected by cancer.”
The journey of cancer is difficult, especially for mothers of children facing the disease.
“For women already struggling to finance the cancer treatment, including transport costs, the emotional toll can be overwhelming. Many of these mothers who stay at CANSA TLC facilities cannot afford the travel costs to government paediatric oncology wards. They arrive with only the bare necessities: the impact of a beautiful dress during this challenging ordeal cannot be overstated,” Sadie added.
“Similarly, women during their cancer journey, who are staying at one of the nationwide CANSA Care Homes, carry the burden of being taken care of while also feeling responsible for their families.
“The gift of a beautiful dress can help them feel ‘themselves’ for a moment and make them feel supported by other women.”